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Dear Javed Saab, I Wish You The Best In Life



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.  

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