By Team Bollyy
New Update
My father, Haroon Ali was a writer. He had, I think all the experiences, he had seen life in all its colours, he had lived a life very few could have lived and he had loved and lost, which was enough to inspire him to write and  he wrote. He had written eight hundred pages of a novel he had planned to write. It was supposed to be an expose of his family and when his two sisters, Zeenath and Sameena came to know that he was going to exposed the family, they made a  bonfire of the pages he had written and he never wrote a line after that "accident" ( niece, Aziza).I wish my father would continue to write because his real story began only after he had tried to write and had met with that "accident "..
My aunt Zeenath Futehally was a known writer and had written a novel titled "Zohra",which was her version of the story of my father's family and had a  foreword by the eminent English writer E.M.Forster .I had only one meeting with her in her bungalow on Pali Hill and had shown her some of my  writings and she had looked at them condescendingly and had said, "you have a long way to go. This is childish ".She told me that she knew some very big writers and would talk to them about me ,which she never did.
The only advice she gave me was to  wear khadi kurtas because she knew I had no money and the kurtas were available at the Kadi Bhandar for only ten rupees ! I received one of the first big shocks of my young life when I saw one of my own aunts (my mother's sister)sweeping the floor of the drawing room of "Zeenath phuphi "and the aunt told me in "Konkani" my mother tongue not to come there again because "Zeenath phuphi " was a very cruel woman. I don't know whether it was what my aunt said, but I never went back to " Zeenath puphi" bungalow even when there were times when I was starving....
I didn't  know writing could be a way of making a living, but when I first saw a very famous writer called Rajinder Singh Bedi coming to see my neighbour in a Chevrolet car and smoking the most expensive brand of cigarettes that I realized that a writer could also make very good money, but I stuck to my  three ambitions of either being a priest, a bus conductor or  a manager of a Udipi hotel.....
The first time
I discovered the power of a writer was when I started reading,"The Last Page "written by a man called K.A.Abbas. Reading that page became an addiction for me and I saw  to it that I read it  every week even if I had to beg ,borrow or even steal .How could I then even dare to imagine that the man called K.A.Abbas was going to be my guru and change my life and inspire me to take writing seriously and fifty years later, I can still say I am whatever I am as a writer all because of that great man, K.A.Abbas.
It was during the two years I worked with Abbas Saahab that I met some of the well-known writers like Krishan Chander,Kaifi Azmi,Sahir Ludhianvi and others who behaved like school boys when they met and talked to Abbas Saahab in his library which was the only luxury Abbas Saahab had.....
 I May have met Hundreds of writers of different languages during my entire life, but I can place my right hand on the place where I think my heart is and say that if there has been one writer (after Abbas Saahab)who has appealed to both my heart  and mind it is  undoubtedly Javed Siddiqui .....
I didn't have to meet Javed Saahab. He met me when I was fallen drunk outside the Sun N Sand hotel in Juhu where we were attending a party. Some of my best friends and so called friends had all left me alone in the place where I had fallen almost unconscious. I only remember that some one had stopped a car, put me in it and dropped me home in Versova .It was only the next morning that I knew that it was Javed Siddiqui who had been my saviour that night.....
It was the beginning of a long friendship during which we have exchanged lives and all that is a part of life .He was and  is so very different from the image of a writer people normally have. He has never carried his learning on his shoulder and has never made efforts to show off his knowledge and wisdom. If you ask me, I  consider him to be one of those rare blessings in my life. The time I have spent in his office cum part time library at  Venus Apartments in Four Bungalows (It was his residence before he shifted to a bigger and better apartment in Millat Nagar )was a learning experience with us surrounded by hundreds of books of every kind and in different languages, with endless rounds of the best tea prepared under his guidance and served by him in a way which showed how much he cared for the one he was serving the tea to and I never knew why  the mintues I finished one long meeting with him, I had already started making plans for my next visit....
It was during one of our many meetings that he told me of his early days in Bombay... He had come to the city from  Rampur in Uttar Pradesh and had landed at the Bombay central station with only fifteen rupees in his pocket. He had paid the taxi driver who had taken him to his destination eight rupees (when the actual fare was only two rupees).He was left with only seven rupees and like he says what happened with those seven rupees is what his story in Bombay is all about....
Javed Saahab had started off as a Urdu journalist for the leading daily 'Inqilaab "and rose to become a fiery reporter and a writer, as a result of which he was arrested during the Emergency and was jailed .....
The Emergency was over and Javed Saahab had to look at a very uncertain future. He was living in a one room tenement in Kurla East with his family. Satyajit Ray was planning his first Hindi (Urdu)film, "Shatranj ke Khiladi "and was looking for a writer who could write the dialogue. Shama Zaidi, a writer friend of Javed Saahab recommended his name, he passed the test and was signed by Ray to the write the  dialogue. It was a new beginning and  a new life for Javed Siddiqui, the writer....
He came back to Bombay, again not knowing where his destiny would take him next. He joined Abrar Alvi,the writer of Guru Dutt,as an assistant and ended up writing dialogues for the films of Mehmood the  ace comedian. This  phase didn't last long ,but he had to wait for a long time to be recognized as a writer in mainstream Hindi cinema and his determination to prove it come what may worked and he was soon writing the screenplay and dialogue of films like DDLJ,Koi Mil Gaya and Baazigar which opened the floodgates of success and popularity for him.
I have been following Javed Saahab like a disciple and an orphan overawed by the body of work he has done. It is very difficult to believe that this one man has written novels, films, some of the best plays sketches and even TV serials.
When I say that he has never shown how much he knows to make an impression this is what I really mean, because otherwise I have seen writers who have not even achieved one -tenth of what he has,preen like plastic peacocks....
Javed Saahab had given an entirely new dimensions to plays when he wrote "Tumhari Amrita "which had only two characters played by Farouque Shaikh and Shabana Azmi reading letters they had written to each other years ago, sitting on two chairs with a common table was the only set in the play and the real stars of the play were the letters which were all written by Javed Saahab. The play became such a rage that it had shows almost everywhere in the country and even the world and had for the first time proved that a play could also make big money when tickets for the shows were sold for thousands of rupees, dollars and dinars. Javed Saahab wrote his next play, "Aap ki Soniya "which again had only two performers, Farouque Shaikh and Sonali Bendre.This play too was a  success and Javed Saahab was accepted and acknowledge as one of the leading playwrights of India.....
Javed Saahab tried his talented hand at writing for TV serials and he was successful again. The serial "Udaan"which he wrote with his writing partner, Robin Bhatt and his son Sameer Siddiqui ran for more than three years.
Javed Saahab has three main strong points. He started reading at the age of six and has read every kind of book because he feels a writer has to read if he has to know the world better and he also believes that reading a book is like having a discussion with the book.And today when he is more than seventy five and  his eyes are failing him, he still writes with a sketch pen and reads at least five or six pages without which he says he can not  sleep.The other kind of reading he loves is reading live characters from real life whether it is a millionaire,a peon or a sweeper. And his biggest plus point is his challenging himself all the time ,which is why he has never given up whatever the odds in his way....
I have been very fortunate to not only know him as a friend and a great writer, but also to know him as a family man who loves his family, which includes his gracious wife Farida,his sons Sameer and Murad and daughters Lubna and Farah who had interviewed me on radio for a Urdu programme when I was still struggling to find my place. I have rarely seen such a happy family in my long life.
Javed Saahab has been a part of all the the important events in my life and not once has he said no to any of my requests and invitations. He was one of my esteemed guests at the launch of my autobiography, "Life-Bits-and Pieces"on my fiftieth birthday. Some of the greatest legends and titans of the industry were present and spoke very highly about this"naacheez".
There was a truck load of bouquets and flowers I had to take  home as a symbol of the love of some of the most respected men who I had once only seen in my dreams when I went for a hair cut at one of the cheap saloons and when I was obsessed with the idea of becoming a conductor, when Javed Saahab called me back and said, "Kamaal hai, Ali, tumhare baare mein itne bade bade logon ne jo kha, aise toh kisi ke marne ke baad bhi nahi bolte ".
I think that was a tribute from a friend and writer I respect and still do ,will  be something  that will never happen  in my life again.
He had written a play called "Badoomba "with his daughter Lubna in a key role and it was the first time in thirty years that I couldn't be present  at the opening show and the kind of reaction the Siddiqui family gave me for not being there brought a lump in my throat which I can steel feel sometimes....It was the second stage of  the lockdown and I wondered if any of the thousands of people I had come across and even helped would call me to inquire about how I was battling with Corona. But one evening when I was worrying about whether I would go into depression, I received a call from Javed Saahab and the talk we had brought back life into my life which was about to surrender to the power of the worm wrecking the world. He even offered to get me the tablets without which I couldn't function, it was difficult for even a man  like Javed Saahab who could challenge himself to do things and get them done, but the very feeling of his being concerned about me was enough to see me through this lockdown and any other war I would have to fight in the life left in me.
Thank you, Javed Saahab for being there with me from the time you picked me up from that dark and lonely road outside the Sun N Sand and continue to guide me to find a new light every time there is defeat and despair staring me in the face and making me look at the darker side of life, which I have seen once too often.
If even his worst critics think it is time for  the writer in him to wrap up, they will be sadly mistaken. Javed Saahab has worlds and worlds within him which he has to give expression to and bring alive .And he has already challenged himself and I am sure he will meet the challenge head on .
Latest Stories