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My guest for this special two-part edition is one of India's greatest storytellers and poets. Javed Akhtarsaab, welcome to Walk the Talk. You are a superstar in your own right. Superstar spouse. Superstar parents. Superstar son. How do you handle the fame?
This has been the condition right from my childhood. Even when I came to the film industry, I was Jan Nisar Akhtar's son. After a lot of struggle, I became a successful writer. Before that, Salimsaab was part of my name; then I got married to Shabana (Azmi). Then came Zoya and Farhan. Now, everybody says...
'...are you Farhan Akhtar's father?'
Oh yes, girls come running and I feel nice. But then they say, 'Hello uncle, where is Farhan?'
We ran away from college to watch Yaadon Ki Baaraat, Seeta Aur Geeta.
As a team, Salimsaab and I started in 1970. Our first film was Andaaz with Shammiji and Rajesh Khanna. Then came Haathi Mere Saathi, Seeta Aur Geeta, Zanjeer; then in 1975, Deewar and Sholay. I think, we wrote some 13 films in a row which were major hits.
You were the only story-writers who had your pictures on the hoardings.
Yes, and sometimes the credit was bigger than the title of the film.
How did you and Salimsaab come together?
Maybe, it happened for the first time in India, but if you see the credits of any Hollywood movie, even from the '40s or '50s, you will see they are with more than one writer. Screenplay, perhaps, needs more than one writer.
But how did you two come together?
You know, I had come to the film industry with the ambition that I would become a director...
And you had a rough time like everybody?
Oh yes. There are actually two times which are difficult for a person in the film industry. Ek tere aane se pehle, ek tere jaane ke baad (Once before you arrive, once after you have left).