It’s Javed Akhtar’s birthday today and I love him, both as a scriptwriter and a lyricist. I could easily come up with 71 reasons, but about half of them would just be quotes from Sholay and Deewar. So I am going to try to limit myself to 25, one for every film he wrote with Salim Khan, plus a bonus just for being him. And I’m going to include quotes from his Salim-Javed films, because although they were both credited, it’s generally believed that Javed wrote more of the dialogue.
(This is an updated and re-posted post from last year)
- I love that you write poetry and lyrics for all your kids’ films. Like these, from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
(Even if you don’t understand the Hindi, they just sound so beautiful)
2. I love that even for a mediocre film, you will still write an amazing lyric
(The English subs don’t quite capture it, but I love the repeated “and what? and what? and what?” in the chorus)
3. I love how, when it is a good movie, your lyrics can bring it to a whole other level
4. I love that you nailed song lyrics on your first try
5. I love that your lyrics for the opening song are the best part of Talaash. And Talaash is a really good movie!
(I like the opening credits visuals better, but I can’t find that version on youtube)
6. Naam kya hai, Basanti? “What is your name, Basanti?” (Jai’s response to Basanti’s chatter in Sholay)
7. Mere Baap Chor Hai. “My father is a thief” (the tattoo on his arm which drives Vijay in Deewar)
8. Kitne Aadme Thi? “How many men?” (Gabbar’s introductory line in Sholay)
9. Poore Pachaas Hajar “Full Fifty Thousand” (Samba’s one line of dialogue in Sholay, which made the actor immortal)
10. Main aaj bhi phenke hua paise nahin uthata “I still today will not pick up money that is thrown” (Vijay’s reintroduction of himself to the crime boss he met as a child in Deewar)
11. I love that you turned a standard engagement party song into a brilliant dialogue
(Poor quality video, but worth it for the subtitles)
12. I love that you wrote a song which perfectly captures the mood of the soldiers on the Border, but was also the favorite of a friend of mine in the diaspora, receiving letters from India.
(English translation here)
13. I love that you were able to work with the genius composer RB Burman on his last film.
14. I love that you worked with genius composer A.R. Rahman on one of his first films
15. I love that you wrote my anthem, for whenever I am feeling especially proud of myself
(you don’t really need subtitles, the main point is in English)
16. Mogambo Khush Hua “Mogambo is Happy!” (Mogambo’s catch phrase in Mr. India)
17. Ye police station, tumhaare baap ki ghar nahin “this is a police station, not your father’s house!” (said by Vijay in Zanjeer as he kicks a chair out from under a criminal who is lounging in his office)
18. Aaj Khush to bahut hoga tu “Are you happy today?” (Vijay confronts God, once the tragedies of his life have finally driven him to prayer, in Deewar)
19. Don ko pakadna mushkil nahin. Na mumkin Hai “Catching Don is not difficult…it is not possible” (Don‘s catchphrase in both the 1970s original and the 2000s remake)
20. This introduction, I think the all time best Amitabh intro
(no subtitles, but his first line is “One who has seen his mother die little by little everyday for 25 years … what will death scare him?”)
21. That you were so uninterested in writing the English part of this song, you passed the job off to your kids.
22. That you experimented with mixing Spanish and Hindi in a glorious stew.
23. That you translated Rahman songs into Hindi, and actually made them better
24. That at 64, you perfectly captured the feeling of being a lost 20-something
25. Of course, is the greatest line in the history of Indian cinema:
Mere Paas Maa Hai