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Javed Akhtar has a role for Big B

If lyricist-scriptwriter were to pen a role for Amitabh, it would be?

india Updated: Jan 18, 2006 13:57 IST

He is the man behind the persona of Amitabh Bachchan's 'Angry Young Man' but if lyricist-scriptwriter Javed Akhtar were to pen a role for Big B, it would be that of a lawyer.

"I think Amitabh Bachchan has a perfect voice modulation and tremendous presence. This is one role that has not been written for him," Akhtar says.

For someone who has scripted super hits like, Zanjeer, Deewar, Sholay, Seeta Aur Geeta, Don, Trishul, Sagar and Mr India, it seems difficult to digest that Javed Akhtar is petrified, each time he sees a blank sheet of paper.

"When I get a new project, I feel like running away to a small town, growing a beard and changing my appearance so that no one recognises me. The period before a script comes to mind is one of humiliation - where false confidence and ego goes out of the window," Akhtar says rather modestly.

He says that despite having a considerable body of work behind him, he hasn't arrived at a formula for success.

But I can tell you the sure-shot formula to writing flops, he quips. "One is to write for the audience as opposed to what you like and the second is to try and attempt something 'great'.

Javed explains that in both the cases the writer will fail because in the first case the author is attempting something below his standard and in the latter above his capability.

"Write what you like. Neither are you unique, nor are the audience. What is good will be universally appreciated," he stresses.

However, he believes - even at the risk of contradicting himself - that all work that is "good and sincere work" may not be successful.

He points to Lakshya and Main Azaad Hoon as case in point. "I wrote it with cent per cent passion but they failed at the box office."

All art forms including writing needs one to be schizophrenic. The more the schizophrenia, the better the piece of work, says Akhtar.

For someone who draws lineage from seven generations of poets-writers, Akhtar almost didn't become a scriptwriter. He started as an assistant director. " In those days dialogues used to arrive on the sets minutes before the scene was to be shot. I would volunteer to tweak dialogues that directors were unhappy with, in a bid to retain my job."

Film director Madhusudhan encouraged Akhtar to practice the craft of writing. "I asked him for books I could read up and he asked me to read as many scripts as possible instead," Akhtar says.

Speaking about the lack of meaningful cinema, Akhtar says that it is a reflection of the business of cinema.

"Earlier producers asked us to write scripts that would run in small towns. Hence the protagonist was from the working class and his concerns were reflected. Now the producer is happy if he gets an NRI and city audience. The hero is well off and suave. Thus aspirations of 76 per cent of the people recede to the background," Akhtar opines.

First Published: Jan 18, 2006 13:57 IST