Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Salaam Salim Saab - Silence that Speaks (Episode #2)

 Jaideep Sen continues his series dedicated to the writing of Salim Khan...
  
Writing Silence that speaks louder than words takes the skill of a genius. Let's take two such instances that can be found in Salim Saab's body of work -- Shakti for which he collaborated with his writing partner Javed Akhtar Saab and Naam, for which he was the independent writer

An interesting side-note here: Shakti and Haathi Mere Saathi were both adapted from Tamil films by Salim and Javed Saab. However, the adaptations were so strikingly different from the original films that they were re-made in Tamil again. 

Scene from Shakti: Silence that speaks louder than words
Coming back to the scene in Shakti, there is a point in the story where Sheetal (Raakhe Gulzar) is shot dead. Her son Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) is at loggerheads with his Father Ashwini Kumar (Dilip Kumar). She has been the lynchpin in their lives, a pillar of strength for both. When Vijay comes home, he finds his father sitting in a corner of the room. The scene was intentionally written as a Father-Son moment where they, without exchanging a single word, share the tremendous feeling of loss they are both experiencing. 

And such was the sensitivity of the two genius writers, Salim and Javed Saab, that on reaching this critical point in the screenplay, they themselves felt numb. They went on to convey this numbness through silence and tears, a potent combination that has a sledgehammer emotional impact on the viewer even today. 

That is the hallmark of Salim Saab's writing -- these emotional scenes still have exactly the same impact on you each and every time you watch them. This can happen only when you write from the heart and the emotional thrust is completely pure.  

Scene from Naam: the sledgehammer impact of silence
The second instance is the scene from Naam where Salim Saab hit gold again with silence. Ravi (Kumar Gaurav) enters the hospital room where Vicky (Sunjay Dutt) who's on the death bed after being shot by the police. As a regretful Vicky tries to say something to Ravi, blood trickles out of his mouth not allowing him to speak. How sensitively and sensibly Salim Saab has used 'blood' as a tool to set up Vicky's inability to speak and using his unstoppable tears to heighten the emotional peak of the scene. 

The heart-wrenching silence tears you apart and makes the viewer shed more tears than perhaps even the characters do. I personally feel that making the audience cry is the most challenging aspect of writing because it totally depends on emotions and unlike comedy does not have the support of physical action. 

Having had the opportunity to interact with Salim Saab, and felt his purity and nobility, which I feel is the origin from where these unadulterated emotional gems find their sparkle. Silent gems that speak louder than words. Where silence is not by default but by design. 

Jaideep Sen is a filmmaker and a connoisseur of the art of storytelling.

Read Episode 1 here: Mera Naam Salim Khan 

Read Episode 3 here: The Invaluable Value of the Pen


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