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The 'Guru' of Screenwriting - Salaam Salim Saab Episode #4




Guru Bramha, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara,
Guru Sakshat Parabramha, Tasmai Shri Guruve Namaha

On the auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima (27 July, 2018)  it’s extremely apt that as students of cinema we doff our hats to the “Guru” of Screenplay Writing, Mr. Salim Khan.

How worthy Salim Saab is of this respect is endorsed by his erstwhile writing partner, Javed Saab who at an event in Bhopal a few years back on stage very graciously mentioned that the one man he’s learnt the Art of Screenplay Writing from is Salim Saab and few people have an understanding of the craft that Salim Saab does. 

It is ironical that even though writing is the most important cog in the wheel of a film’s success, few people in the film industry have an understanding of screenplay writing. 

The Jai-Radha Storyline in Sholay
Well the answer lies in the word itself – how a story is put into play with sequences, occurrences and happenings for an average duration of approximately two and a half hours on Screen. This forms the backbone of a film that keeps the audience engaged. It is the bridge between the story that you want to tell and the dialogues that are spoken by the performers.  The strength of a screenplay is such that it can offset even an ordinary performance and make it look extraordinary. The power of the screenplay is such that without the support of dialogue it can create timeless and memorable content. The Radha-Jai love story of Sholay is perhaps the most blazing example (pun intended).  

Very recently I saw the original Don for the umpteenth time and felt the same glee of an excited child when Don tells Sonia that they know the revolver is empty but not the cops, thus engineering his getaway. When I asked Salim Saab how they had come up with the gag, he credited it to his love for reading, and the vast reservoir of information he has gained from his habit.

Salim Saab is a voracious reader who says that if he happens to be carrying something wrapped in a newspaper, he would first read it thoroughly before relegating it to the waste paper basket. For, he firmly believes that reading enriches him not just as a writer but also as a human being. 

It is this dedication and discipline for his art that enables Salim Saab to create a scene from a vacuum, says acclaimed filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt. A vacuum of his invisible magic box of memories and experiences gathered from his interactions with life and books. And in the process, the “Guru” of Screenplay Writing has spread so much magic in our lives with his magical creations.

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




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