My soul is a strange being that has put my body into trouble several times . It has been following my madness to find the best kind of writing in any language and to meet and talk to some of the great and genuine writers, poets and playwrights – Ali Peter John‘
I had not met my dear friend Javed Siddiqui for one year and eight months, the time during which he and l were far away from each other , even though we were so close , all because of the lockdown which is the result of the on going pandemic .
I found my chance to meet him when my new found friend Hemaa Singh expressed her desire to meet Javed Sahaab to ask him to talk about her father , one of the finest actors of lndian cinema .
It was a physical test for me before l could meet the only writer l respect with all my heart and mind today .
The lift of his building had stopped functioning and l could have taken it as an excuse and postponed our meeting , but my quest for better writing and better writers inspired me to climb up the two floors to reach the man l call Javed Sahaab, genuinely one of the last of the most talented writers we have .
I reached his apartment with Hemaa standing by my side to make sure that l didn’t slip , trip or fall . The welcome Javed Sahaab assured me that the goodness of man and humanity were still alive .
We started our evening talking about how the lockdown had treated the world and especially javed Sahaab who had not got out of his house for more than one an a half year which he said was a situation he had faced in his entire life , but he was also happy that he could catch up with all his writing and especially his reading.
At the time when we met , he was working on some kind of a thesis on Dilip Kumar who he considered to be one of the greatest actors ever .
When he began talking about Kanhaiyalal, he said that the actor was among the three major contributions made to Hindi cinema by Benaras , the actress Leela Mishra , Kanhaiyalal and the poet turned lyricist Anjaan. .
He was one of those who still couldnt get over the loss of Dilip Kumar in between our talk he kept making remarks and remembering all the little incidents , anecdotes, scenes And situations that made Dilip Kumar the complete personality he was .
He has still to complete the work he is doing on Dilip Kumar and his lost in the world of Dilip Kumar.
Incidentally , Javed Sahaab had worked with Saira Banu in a serial called “Zara Dekho Toh Innka Kamal” , which was a talk show with some of leading the starts.
I took the opportunity to ask Javed Sahaab about his experiences with theatre and the plays he had written and realised that his contribution to theatre and cinema competed with one another.
I was interested in knowing the background f his most successful play ,” Tumhaari Amrita” and he reeled out the realities of the play within minutes ….
He was thinking about what to do next when he thought of writing a play based on A.L Gurney’s “love letters ” .
He wrote the play with a fierce kind of passion and when it was ready , he called it ” Tumhare Amrita” .
The reaction to what he had written could have disillusioned him , but he had faith in the play he had written and finally Feroz Abbas Khan decided to take up the challenge of directing the play .
Shabana Azmi and Farouque Shaikh agreed to act in the play but not before having reservations about whether the play would appeal to people or not.
It was a very unusal play in which just two characters sits on tables and chairs and read our letters from their past .
The play on surface was a lite play , but it had layers and layers of thoughts , feelings and emotional experiences decribed in depth by the letters exchanged by the two characters played by Shabana and Farouque.
The first ever show was held in an atmosphere of insecurity and excitement at the Prithvi Theatre .
It was the presence of Shabana and Farouque live on stage that attracted the crowd on the first day and first show , but gradually the tremendous impact of the play and especially the dialogues written by Javed Sahaab had proved that we could also make enlightening plays .
The play was then staged in different parts of the world and was appreciated by theatre lovers all over and the presence of Shabana and Farouque brought in new lovers of theatre .
Tumhaari Amrita ran for more than 23 years in different parts of the world and was even staged at the united nations .
Tickets in places like Dubai and other Gulf countries sold for 3000 , 4000 and even 10000 rupees.
Tumhaari Amrita became the first play to break the records of even some of the most successful films .
The kind of miracle Javed Saahaab worked with Tumhaari Amrita has earned him a place in the history of theatre , a name that generations to come will remember as the playwright of Tumahaari Amrita .
As we were finishing our long talk and were joined by Javed Sahaab’s endearing wife and Javed Sahaab’s strength , support and inspiration for 50 long years, Farida And his son Murad who is also a filmmaker joined us over the best Kababs and the best tea l have had during the entire lockdown, l made a mental note of the other meaningful and successful plays written by Javed Sahaab .
And l could easily remember his plays like Saalgirah , Aap Ki Sonya ” , Hameshaa, Kharaashe and other titles which have been etched and the pages of the history of Indian Theatre and cannot be easily erased.
It was more than two hours that we were talking and for the first time l felt how time could fly even in these beautiful times .
That was the magic l had wanted to experience and thats why i had claimed those steps , and that is why l climed down the same steps even though my foot kept protesting in pain .
I dont know how l can thank Javed Sahaab and the Siddiqui family for always treating me with so much affection , care and even respect which I have never felt l deserved .
Farida has promised me an evening with better snacks and may be even some delicious biriyani and of course my life – giving cups of tea .
I will be a fool if I dont accept the invitation of Farida which is backed up by Javed Sahaab who himself is a grand celebration with his knowledge, wisdom and experience being the most precious delicacies whose taste never leaves .
HAZAARON KADAM CHADNE KE BAAD EK JAVED SIDDIQUI MILTE HAI . HAZAARON KOSHISHE KE BAAD EK AISAA PYAAR BHARAA PARIVAAR MILTAA HAI. JAVED SAHAAB KI LIKHI HUI FILME AUR NAATAK AAJ BHI DIL AUR MANN KO CHHOOTE HAI AUR AANEWAALE KAHI YUGO TAK PADE BHI JAAYENGE AUR YAAD BHI KIYE JAAYENGE. SHUKRIYAA, JAVED SAHAAB AAPKO AAP HONE KE LIYE.