Not many know that veteran screenwriters Javed Akhtar and Gulzar first met while working on Ramesh Sippy's 1971 romantic drama "Andaz" and from there began a friendship that has endured the test of time.
It was only fitting that Gulzar unveiled "Jadunama", a coffee table book that draws its title from Akhtar's nickname Jadu, on Monday night here.
While Akhtar wrote the additional screenplay of Sippy's "Andaz" with former writing partner Salim Khan, Gulzar was tasked with penning its dialogues. The film starred Shammi Kapoor, Hema Malini, Rajesh Khanna, and Simi Garewal.
"Gulzar sahab was writing the dialogues and we were writing the additional screenplay. The film became a hit and both Gulzar sahab and I became good friends. We may not meet often but whenever we meet we talk for hours," the 77-year-old lyricist said.
As industry colleagues, Akhtar said, they exchange notes even today.
"We talk about what we have written and read that out to each other. I have the benefit as I remember most of the things and he doesn't remember much," he quipped.
According to Akhtar, he and Gulzar (88) have never viewed each other as competitors and have rather been each other's cheerleaders.
"Our writing style is different from each other but one thing common between us is that we both write well. For example, Kaifi sahab (eminent poet and his wife Shabana Azmi's late father) and Sardar Jafri were like brothers. It is not that you are in one profession, so you would be jealous of each other.
"I believe a person who has less confidence will have a feeling of jealousy. Rather good work should be appreciated. I have so many times praised Gulzar sahab for the songs or lines that he has written 20 years ago," he added.
Gulzar, regarded as one of greatest Urdu poets of his era, said he often seeks out Akhtar to help him with the ins and outs of Hindi since he isn't well-versed with the language.
"I am not that educated a person. I failed in college," said the acclaimed filmmaker behind films such as “Koshish”, “Mausam”, and “Maachis”.
“The Urdu language that I learnt is from the people living around me but before the Partition in Delhi. Post the partition, Hindi was spoken (a lot). I can't read and write Hindi a lot. I read and write in Urdu and I have learnt a bit of Devanagari from signboards. Javed sahab has learnt the language and whenever I am short of words, I call him," he said.
Describing the reclusive Gulzar as "Eid ka chaand" (a rare sight), Akhtar said he was grateful to the veteran writer for releasing the book.
"Eid ke chand ki minimum guarantee hai ki saal mein ek baar dikhta hee hai, yeh minimum guarantee bhi inn se nahi milti (There is a minimum guarantee that moon will be sighted on Eid, but there is no such guarantee that comes with him.)
"I am thankful to Gulzar sahab. He doesn't go anywhere much and I am happy that he has come here to unveil the book," he added.
"Jadunama" is a compilation of extracts from Akhtar's public speeches, interviews and quotes.