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The K.A Abbas Award For Journalism’…

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WHAT A FORTUNATE YOUNG MAN I WAS, ABBAS SAHAB OPENED UP THE WORLD FOR ME AND THE FIRST EVER AWARD I RECEIVED WAS ALSO CALLED ‘THE K.A ABBAS AWARD FOR JOURNALISM’….

Ali Peter John

I had attended film awards functions when I was in college, thanks to some neighbours and my professor who could pull strings in the right places to get invitations. But, never in my wildest dreams or imagination could I think of winning one myself…

I had joined ‘Screen’, thanks to my Guru, K.A Abbas who one day asked me, “how long will you work with me for hundred rupees a month and a cup of tea and a banana? You have the talent to go far. I will give you a letter to Mr Pillai, the editor of ‘Screen’ and he will do something good for you”. All I knew was that Abbas Sahab had written that I had a good character and wrote poetry. I made Mr Pillai wait for four months before I could join ‘Screen’ and he kept waiting for me till I finally decided to join even if it was only for a few days. I kept telling Abbas Sahab that I didn’t want to leave him and wanted to be with him all the time. He laughed at me, called me an idiot and literally forced me join ‘Screen’ where I started off on a monthly salary of four hundred thirty rupees…

I kept growing and Mr Pillai kept encouraging me by giving me some of the most interesting and many times tough assignments. I took it all in my stride even as my senior colleagues kept telling me that Mr Pillai was taking advantage of me…

I had completed five years in ‘Screen’ and even if I say so, I had made quite a name as a writer and some of the best and leading stars and filmmakers and even strugglers wanted to be written about by me, an opportunity I had earned from Mr Pillai….

One afternoon, I received a letter from Sahyog Foundation whose chairman, Mr Ram Jawharani wrote to me saying that I was selected for the first ever ‘K.A Abbas Award for Journalism’. I jumped up with excitement and the first thought that came to my mind was what Abbas Sahab would have felt if he was alive….

However, after a few days I received another letter from Mr Jawharani, who gave me the details about the awards function. It was to be held at the Sun n Sand hotel and the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr Manohar Joshi would be presenting me with the award. My head went into a whirl and I instantly made up my mind that I would not under any circumstances receive an award in the name of Abbas Sahab from a dirty politician….

I was still quite a junior, but that very evening I called up Mr Jawharani and told him that I would not receive the award from Mr. Joshi..

Mr Jawharani was very angry and upset and told me that had had created a very big problem for him as he had already spoken to Mr Joshi and he had accepted his invitation to receive the award…

I stuck to my guns and Mr. Jawharani who was seething with anger asked me to get my own chief guest for the function…

There were just two days to go and I met my friend Amitabh Bachchan who I had seen signing his first film,“Saat Hindustani” for Abbas Sahab. Amitabh had become a superstar, but when I told him about the award in the name of Abbas Sahab which was being given to me, he didn’t take a minute to agree to come and present me with the award which was in the name of his Guru and my Guru…

My function was to be held on Sunday morning. The Filmfare Awards were to be held on Saturday evening, after which there was a big party. But I knew if Amitabh had said yes, there could never be a no….

I reached ‘Prateeksha’  at 9 am as he had asked me to. He came down in a hurry, wearing the plain trouser and a plain blue jeans shirt, but I couldn’t understand why he was wearing dark glasses at ten o’clock in the morning…

He was driving his own car and told me about the blunders he had made the previous night at a Filmfare function. He was supposed to mention the names of all the rising stars and and had cleanly forgotten to mention the name of Anil Kapoor. He drove straight to the house of Anil and profusely apologised to Anil and even presented his own trophy to him and it was a very memorable and moving moment when they embraced each other…

From Anil’s house he drove straight to the Sun n Sand hotel where a huge crowd was waiting for him. He apologised to the audience for being late and told them the reason why he was late in great detail and the audience burst out into a round of applause.

The main awards function started and others like the bhajan singer Anup Jalota, Tabassum and some actresses spoke about me and when one of my friends told me, “aise toh log kisike marne ke baad bhi nahi pahunchte hai”. I was overwhelmed…

And then it was the turn of Amitabh to speak and when he said that I was the right choice to get an award named after my Guru. He kept talking about what was common between Abbas Sahab and me and I wondered if I was worth being compared to Abbas Sahab.

He took the audience and especially me totally unawares when he talked about my unusual way of working. He said, “this man, Ali is my friend, but there is one thing about him I have never been able to understand. He has done countless interviews and chats with me on various subjects, but I have never seen him carrying a tape-recorder or taking down notes. He has spoken to me for hours and yet when I have seen the forthcoming issue of  ‘Screen’, I found every word I have spoken as it was. I would after his function like to ask Ali what magic he has to retain so many facts and experiences in his memory. I hope someone unravels the mystery about this aspect about this very humble and quiet friend who can sit in silence and roar when he is writing, so much like his mentor, Abbas Sahab”.

I have received many other awards after that award, but the heart beats giving that first award in the name of Abbas Sahab and presented by his discovery, Amitabh has still been retained in a special corner of my heart.

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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News, K.A Abbas, Indian film director, screenwriter, novelist, journalist , Amitabh Bachchan

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