Not much has been heard about your initial phase in Bollywood?
I landed in Bombay in October'64 after completing my graduation from Bhopal. My first job (at a studio) gave me a handsome salary of Rs.50 per month. And I used to sleep in the studio itself. Later I got to write a few dialogues for a writer who could not do so, due to his illness. And that got me my second job that doubled my pay. But it was not until 1968 that I got credited for a film called Yaqeen. The struggle continued till 1970, when I managed to get my first full fledged project.
As a writer, what changes do you see in the hero of the 70s and that of today?
Earlier, the hero used to be a clerk, a teacher, a police officer. He used to be a middle-class person, who used to mingle with the crowd, move around in traffic jams. Today, the hero lives in a plush house, does nothing, and he steps out of his house straight into Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. And there is nothing wrong in that. Times have changed and with the coming in of corporates I see more changes.
There has been a lot of hue and cry about the remaking of classics, your views?
Why not? It has been done in Hollywood since a long time and many such remakes have won Oscars also. I think ' Devdas' was a very good remake of the Bimal Roy classic by Bhansali.
How does it feel that after Don as a director, Farhan (along with Riteish) has succeeded as a producer with Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.?
It feels wonderful as a father because Farhan is finding success consistently in almost all his endeavours.
Attempts were made to sabotage 'Don' from day one, any reason for that?
Well, for me the movie is a big success and that is all that matters.
Is there any truth in 'Don' sequel being made by Farhan?
I cannot comment on that, better ask the man at the helm of affairs, Farhan!
Your daughter Zoya Akhtar is making a film called Kismat Talkies. Is it the same project that was publicized as Nargis?
Yes, she is working on Kismat Talkies and it is the same project that was wrongly publicized as Nargis. That was never the title.
Are you writing the lyrics for Karan Johar's next (once again after Kank), featuring Shah Rukh Khan and being publicized as Khan?
Yes, I am but I am not aware of the title you mention.
Is Kajol making her comeback with Shah Rukh Khan?
Kajol has already made her comeback!
No, with Shah Rukh Khan
In today's times, when the lyrics are written after the tune has been composed, which of the music directors makes it difficult for you?
No one makes it difficult as such, but with A.R.Rahman, it becomes challenging, as the tunes are of different time durations (sometimes for the same couplet!). Late Majrooh Sultanpuri was a master at this.
You have been very selective about the composers you work with, but for the first time, you are working with a mainstream, commercial music director like Himesh Reshammiya. How was the experience?
It was a wonderful experience. Himesh told me, Javed Sahab, you write whatever you feel like. I will compose the music accordingly. I am very happy with the success of its music and also the fact that the film has been appreciated and is doing well.
Don't you have two scripts ready? Who is the lucky director/maker?
You have me in a spot! I would not like to say anything at this point of time. Just wait for two more months and you will know it all.
Any chances of seeing you as a director?
Highly unlikely at this point of time