My Sunday morning started with a call to one of my most favourite people in the entertainment industry.Javed Saab turned a ripe young 76 . When I called to wish him we joked about Shabanabeing my favourite. “I cannot dispute that. Meri himmat hi nahin hai,” Javed Saab deadpanned.
He and I are bonded by our undying love for the same two women: Lata Mangeshkar and Shabana Azmi, not necessarily in that order. And I’m pretty sure Javed Saab also loved his mother as much. Why else would he write Deewaar?
I have known Javed Akhtar Saab for a good—and I do mean REALLY good—25 years. As he turns a year older I recall my first meeting with him at his residence that he shares with his wife Shabana Azmi in Juhu. The meeting was arranged by my editor and friend Bhawna Somaayawho much to my envy, was very close to the couple. Today I can claim to be as close. But that’s another story.
Going back to my first meeting with Javed Saab, back then there was no mobile phones(at least I didn’t have one) and it was a struggle for an out-of-towner to find addresses in Mumbai(then Bombay). I reached the Akhtars’ residence a good 45 minutes after the appointed time. I expected to be ticked off. But Javed Saab was busy with a tv interview.
The usually spick –and-span Azmi-Akhtar residence was , to put it politely, in a mess. The carpet in the living room had been pushed to one corner and the furniture was all over the place. Javed Saab caught my look of horror and grinned, “So now you know that the house looks like when Shabana is out of town. Don’t worry it will all be back in place before she returns.”
We hit it off instantly.This is one relationship that has never waxed and waned. That’s because unlike another eminent poet-lyricist whom I know, Javed Saab’s ego doesn’t supersede his humane qualities .He is an artiste of great pride and even arrogance. But he knows where when and how to use his tools of selfexpression.His lyrics as I have repeatedly told them do not hide behind esoteric metaphors. In his simplicity and lucidity Javed Saab matches the late and great Shailendra.There are no “hidden meanings” in Javed Saab’s poetry. What you hear is what you get.And no double meanings, thank you.Karan Johar would vouch for that.
Javed Saab’s conversations are priceless and often so barbed they are award winning performances . I will never forget the couple of hours he spent at my home over breakfast. He was in Patna for just a day to attend a conference. But he made it a point to come home.
When I told Shabana this she guffawed, “Hamari majaal hai ke hum Patna aayen aur aapkeghar na jaayen? Humein zinda rehna hai ya nahin(cae we dare to come to Patna and not visit your home).
It is really very hard to explain my relationship with this couple. In an industry of fickle friendships and brittle bonding and associations of convenience , this kinship has withstood the test of time. Thank you, Javed Saab for being the person that you are. Fearless funny, articulate,erudite, intellectually equipped but accessible, and one of your kind.