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David Dhawan: “Bhaijaan Was The Backbone Of My Cinema”

The  death  of  Hindi mainstream cinema’s most prolific and versatile writer Kader Khan  has left  filmmaker David Dhawan  bereft.

“Bhaijaan—that’s what I called him—was  the backbone  of  my cinema. After we worked together  for  the  first  time in Bol Radha  Bol, I couldn’tthink of directing a  film without Bhaijaan. I wanted him to  write and act in every film  that I made, and I made sure  it happened.  But he was so busy. There was  a time when every  big commercial film had Bhaijaan’s contribution,  not just as an  actor or writer. He  was  all there for  every film that he  did,” mourns David.

Recalling Kader Khan’s  pervasive  contribution David says, “He was  not just a writer or actor. He was  the backbone  of  every film. When Bhaijaan was in my film  I felt safe and secure.  He was my go-to  friend and  ally  in my  projects. Koi bhiproblem  hoti thi shooting mein I would run to him. As a writer he was  next to none.After his health started failing I had to work with others  . But I always had Bhaijaan in  my mind. I would tell  my writers, ‘Yeh  scene Kader Khan Saab  ki jaisachahiye.’ He has  left a vacuum in  my career.”

Speaking  of  Kader Khan’s  improvisational powers David recalls, “He would rewrite a scene and dialogues on the spot during shooting. He took every shot to another level. As  a writer he made every hero sound credible  and  spectacular.  Just look at Bhaijaan’s contribution to  Amitji(Bachchan)’s onscreen  persona! In all those Bachchan blockbusters  by  ManmohanDesai and  Prakash Mehra  in  the 1970 and 80s Bhaijaan’s  dialogues were supreme. He would actually  get into character  as the hero and  show the leading man  how to say the dialogues. In Amar Akbar Anthony  Bhaijaan  showed Amitji how to speak in that Bambaiyya-Catholic  style. The result as always  was amazing.”

David  was closely associated with  Kader Khan  not  only  in a professional capacity  but also personally. “He  was like  an elder brother. I  could share all my thoughts with him. He  was a man  of great  selfrespect.  He  would  give himself  completely to those who  respected  him and his work. But  would recoil from those who did not given  him respect. Unke andar swabhimaan  tha. I was completely in awe  of  his  never-ending talent. In Bol Radha  Bol he had  such a difficult role of  a character who suffers from night blindness.  The way the  role was written and  the  way Bhaijaan played  it…zameenaasman ka farq tha. He did things on camera that  I could never imagine.After  Bol Radha Bol he  worked his magic with me in Raja Babu, Coolie No1 , Sajan Chale Sasural. If these films were  hits  a large part of  the credit goes  to Bhaijaan.”

Sadly recalling the last film they collaborated on , David says,  “It was Mujhse Shaadi Karogi. After that we didn’t work together. His health started failing and he moved to Canada  to be  with his three sons and daughters-in-law. Bhaijaan  and his entirely  family took Candian  citizenship,  so  it was  only befitting that he  be put to  rest there.”

David regrets  not having Kader around for his  films. “The worst blow to Bhaijaan’s health  was  his loss of speech. The  genius scholar who wove magic with words became wordless.  I couldn’t work with Bhaijaan in that condition. I could deal with him  being on a wheelchair. But I couldn’t come to terms with Bhaijaan  losing  his voice. Now  in his death, our film industry has lost a prominent voice. The movies  will never be  the same. Yes,  I work with others writers. But  I only think ofBhaijaan as my writer,  collaborator,friend and mentor. He was  in a lot of pain in his final years.I would still like to be  selfish and  want him back.”

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