(Written by Mayank Tewari)
I first met Kader saab 10 years ago in Mumbai’s Santa Cruz. I had just come to Mumbai and what I saw was a person who was diametrically opposite to the one we had seen on screen. I won’t say religious, but I saw a deeply spiritual person. He shared his life story with me, and that’s how I came to know that he also had an MTech degree. He gave me a lot of tips on how to be a screenwriter, how to discover originality. He told me how I should only focus on the project at hand, and never allow myself and my work to be judged by anyone. He, at that time, was even funding some educational projects in Saudi Arabia. His house was full of books, and many of those books were on jokes like 1001 Jokes. He said, ‘Beta nothing is original’, I read to be relevant’. He always did original work, but he was aware of what was happening around him. He said, ‘Human beings are very disgusting, it takes a lot of effort to love them and to find some empathy for them. I found all that very interesting.’
And as for the dialogue writer that he was, can you forget the dialogues of Sharaabi? Moochen hon toh Nathu Lal jaisi, varna na ho — it’s part of public memory. He had a big, big contribution in enhancing the persona of Amitabh Bachchan. Jab bhi main ladkiyan dekhta hun, toh mere dil ke kaale kaale kutte bhonkne lagte hain, uss din main Black Dog whiskey peeta hun — this is from Shahenshah. And look at the setting of this line. Amrish Puri walks into a bar, and is offered Chivas by his friend and says this memorable line. We don’t have such dialogues today since there has been a paradigm shift towards realism. His lines would lift the melodrama to another level. That enormous, larger than life persona of the film and that world was often enhanced by the dialogues of Kader saab. My favourite film till date remains Baap Numbri Beta Dus Numbri, which was written by him and in which he played a pivotal role as well.
Jeetendra at one time was doing many of those loud films — Tohfa, Himmatwala among others — and all those films had dialogues by Kader saab. We don’t appreciate it as much today, but as a writer, if he came on board, I am sure everyone from the director to the producer would breathe easy, as the thought ‘ki ab yeh project kuch ban sakta hai’ would prevail. Such impact as a writer is very difficult to get. Many David Dhawan films had dialogues written by him, and would be incomplete without those
exaggerated one liners, which we now term tacky, but they carried the film on their shoulders.
As an actor, he would often break the fourth wall, call the camera and say ‘idhar aao’ and the camera would zoom onto him. This was quite new and revolutionary for those times. He was a polymath. This is truly an end of an era in Bollywood.
(As told to Ektaa Malik)