Javed Akhtar, who was last seen on Indian Idol Season Four a couple of years ago, returns to the small screen with a show revolving around yesteryears’ popular names. Called Classic Legends, the first season features Bollywood’s luminaries like RD Burman, Mehboob Khan, Guru Dutt, Madhubala, Sahir Ludhianvi, Ashok Kumar and Raj Kapoor to name a few.
“I was being paid to talk about a subject that I love speaking of anyway,” laughs the 66-year-old lyricist-scriptwriter. “As a young fan, I had collected a lot of information about so many of these people whose stories I will be narrating on the show. I had the opportunity to meet a couple of these Bollywood legends in person, know them from close quarters and eventually, several years later, land an offer to narrate everything I know about them.”
A couple of episodes have already been shot for the show, which will air on Zee Classic. But ask which one will flag off the series and Javed says he’s left the decision to the broadcaster. “There are so many names that we haven’t covered in this edition. We will come back for another season, hopefully soon after this one wraps up,” he reveals. Of all the subjects on the 13-episode series, the lyricist finds the story of filmmaker Mehboob Khan most dramatic.
“He came to the city as an illiterate boy from Gujarat with Rs 3 in his pocket. He would stand outside studios waiting eagerly for a chance to meet a filmmaker,” recalls Javed, adding, “Few would know he started out as a junior artiste in Ali Baba Aur Chalis Chor (1932) as one of the 40 thieves. Brick by brick, he constructed his career as a filmmaker. Many years later, we still watch his creation Mother India (1957) and wonder what was in his mind.”
When asked if he would like to turn Mehboob’s dramatic story into a film script, Javed says, “It’s a fascinating story and can be told beautifully on celluloid. I would love to pen it.”