About the Book:
'There is one more state in this country, and that is Hindi cinema. And Hindi cinema also has its own culture
quite different from Indian culture, but it's not alien to us, we understand it.'
This book features the well-known screenplay writer, lyricist, and poet, Javed Akhtar, in conversation with Nasreen Kabir on his work in Hindi cinema, his life, and his poetry.
About the Author:
Nasreen Munni Kabir is an independent television producer/director in London.
Experts from Reviews:
'Talking Films provides an insight into the remarkable personality of the poet and lyricist through conversations between Akhtar and the author
Akhtar, a man of letters is also the co-scriptwriter of Sholay, Zanjeer and Deewar - all milestones of Indian cinema.'
Nasreen Munni Kabir has done seminal service to contemporary Hindi filmography. Her 137-page interview with Javed Akhtar, poet, screenplay writer, lyricist and pillar of Bolllywood, will remain an authentic chronicle of our (entertainment) times for years to come.'
0The Book Review
'Talking Films is a work that every person interested in mainstream Hindi cinema should go through. It is a radical departure from the orthodox view of cinematic personalities as dream merchants selling gauzy fantasies to a disenchanted race.'
-Indian Review of Books
'Talking Films makes a good beginning in the genre of books written on popular Hindi cinema.'
Sometime in late 1997, over coffee at the india international centre in Delhi, my editor and I talked about the idea of a collection of published 'conversation' on Hindi cinema and what shape it would take. Interest in books on Hindi cinema has increased over the years as film has become the most popular art from of the century, defining notion of the ideal family, the perfect romance, code of conduct and the love of country. Above all, cinema has become the over-riding from of entertainment for millions of people the world over.In India, with the proliferation of satellite and cable channels, Hindi cinema's power and influence have become even greater as we enter the new millennium.
For various reasons - from organizing film festivals in Paris to producing and directing two series on Hindi cenema titled Movie Mahal for Uk's Channel 4- I have had the privilege of meeting many people involved in Hindi filmmaking. Some were at the peak of their career with little time to consider their work outside the reality of adoring fans and shooting dates. Other, whose films marked a previous era, now saw the importance of taking stock of their contribution to cinema. Having discovred just how difficult it is to find published interviews with now dead partitioneres of India film, i have often suggested to an actor or a director how valuable it would be to read their autobiography, or to read some from of written record of their work and life. They would usually smile and say, 'Where's the time to write?'
I realise that things in the making don't allow for much distance or analysis, and the hectic pece of Bombay life is not conducive to reflection or revisiting of the mental space in which a film was conceived. Besides, filmakers aren't uaually inclined to write about their approach to films, prefering, in most cases, to let their film reveal their method, thinking and intentions. So the idea of publishing extended conversation with an ideal 'crew and cast' list of Hindi cinema , including a director, writer, lyricist, music director, actor, actress, photographer, and choregrapher, seemed exciting and useful.
It wasn't difficult to decide with whom the conversations on Hindi cinema should with stat, because Javed Akhtar;s name immediately sprung to mind. We had first met in 1986, when Khaid Mohamed, now editor of Filmfare, intorduced me to this amazing screenplay writer, lyricist and poet, so that I could film him for Movie Mahal. The interview was brief and took place in a room at the Holiday Inn in Juhu. Minutes before we began, Javed Sahib seemed distant and somewhat preoccupied with whether he should shave or not. I remember thinking, 'it' going to be difficult to get him to concentrare' But I was wrong. I have rerely met anyone so clear-thinking on the subjuct of Hindi cinema and so able to switch from the mundane to the profound within seconds. The moment the camera rolled, Javed Akhtar spoke with a natural ease on the changing flavour of film language, the quality of the Urdu dialogue in Mughal-e-Azam and why Hindi film songs have become such an essentail part of our collective memory. At the end of our fifteen-minute interview, he smiled, stood up and said 'Accha main chala' (All right, I'm off). Thankfully that wasn't the last time I saw him, and over the year we've managed to meet in different circumstances, taliking at length about movie and movie actors.
Javed Akhtar's film work is extraordinary, co-writting with Salim Khan the most significant screenplays of the 1970s (Zanjeer, Deewaar, Sholay, Trishul). His creative talents didn't end there and in 1981, he started writing film lyrics. His unusual songs, from Hawa Hawaii (Mr India) to Ek Ladki ko Dekha (1942, A Love Story ), use language and metre to pleasing effect. His book of poety, Tarkash, published in both Urdu and in Hindi, has also known vast critical and commercial success. In his public life, he is outspoken and defends what he believes in. A lesser known fact about Javed Akhtar is that he is a brilliant conversationalist and an original thinker. I was delighted when he agreed to participate in the book. During the interviews, and depite a dozen ringing telephones and a flow of visitor, Javed Akhtar turned his mind entirely to the task at hand. He'd come alive when speaking of Urdu poetry, Parsee Theatre or Gabbar Singh. But nothing exicted Javed Sahib as mush as ideas- when he hit upon one, his eyes sparkled and he'd go quite for a moment, almost as though he were painting a mental image of the idea taking from. He has great wit, razor-sharp humour, an intense mind and a special connectedness to the pulse of India. I found him disarmingly honest about his life and work, and visionary in his understanding of Hindi cinema. Between April and October 1998, we spent hour in his small and characterful study in his juhu home, discussing all kinds of things and only stopping when his wife, Shaband Azmi, reminded us that it was time eat. Talking to Javed Akhtar has been immensely rewarding.
I 'd like to thank my sister, Priya Kumar and Shameem Kabir, for never failing to encourage me, and to thank the many friends whose advice and help in all sort of direct and indirect ways have made this book happen, including Rukun Advani, Olivia Bennett, Jeanne Brody, Urvashi Butalia, Peter Chappell, Ramachandra Guha, Omar Hafeez, Shahrukh Husain, David Lascelles, khalid Mohamed Gautam Rajadhyaksha, Andrew Robinson, Anuradha Roy, Joy Roy, Pepita Seth and Christopher Shackle. Special thanks to Shabana Azmi who nourished this project in every way.
List of Illustrations
Text of the Conversation
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