Making the 'write' impact

Bollywood buzz

They not only have a foolproof (read flop-free) record with Rohit Shetty from Golmaal Returns (2008) till today, but a breathtaking score of six films (one-fifth) out of the 30 movies in the 100 crore club — Rohit’s Golmaal 3, Singham, Bol Bachchan and Chennai Express, Anees Bazmee’s Ready, and Sajid Khan’s Housefull 2.

Add Shetty’s All The Best, David Dhawan’s Chashme Baddoor and their contribution to Munna Bhai MBBS (a song), and you know that Sajid-Farhad are star writers.But though Sajid is older by seven years, they have decided to call themselves Farhad-Sajid — and in that capacity have written and directed the recent Tips Films’ Entertainment, and also penned Shetty’s latest, Singham Returns.

And yes, they have a Bangalore connection. In the late ‘80s, their families shifted from Mumbai to the city to start a flourishing restaurant called The Party on Queen’s Road. “We named it after our favourite Hollywood comedy starring Peter Sellers,” says Sajid, the dark, hefty and a far more talkative partner — his brother Farhad is slim, fair and quite shy.

Their journey could make for a gripping, realistic movie, but F-S are made of sterner stuff. “The audiences are our mai-baap,” declares Sajid, who does about 80 per cent of the talking, but requests us to equally credit his reticent brother and him. “Logically and biologically, they deserve entertainment and that’s what we want to give them.”The two “Aga Khani Muslim” Commerce graduates feel that they are blessed to have a supportive family — and each other.

 “We were raised on Hindi and English cinema, and we even got dates from pretty girls because we would get movie tickets after standing in long queues,” says the duo, one completing the other’s sentence.

Almost a decade after they became successful in Bangalore, Farhad, a bit of a poet always, began to write what Sajid calls “kamaal (terrific) lyrics.” Their father advised them to follow their dream, and the family shifted back to Mumbai in 1999. “Our restaurant folded up soon, because of lack of personal attention,” notes Farhad.

The two brothers were married and also had children when they began their struggle in Mumbai. “The turning point came when we met Salman Khan, who at first refused to believe that we were brothers,” laughs Farhad. “He gave us a song in David Dhawan’s Hum Kisise Kum Nahin (2002), and ensured that it was retained even after he later had to quit the film. Later, Salman kept calling us frequently to ask about our wellbeing.”

“M bole to,” their first hit song in Munna Bhai MBBS, drew the attention of Ram Gopal Varma, who suggested they try their hand at writing scripts as they had encapsulated the story of the movie in that hit song. “He infected us with the virus,” chuckles Sajid. “We wrote the 2006 Shiva for him, and though it was a flop, we learnt a lot. Next, Rohit Shetty asked us to do the dialogues of Sunday, also a flop.”

But it has been a great haul since, and the brothers not only consider old Hindi and English classics as their learning ground, but scoff at the idea of writing in isolation or at hill-stations. “We write best at home, amidst all the hustle bustle of our families. Let’s be frank, inspiration can strike even in the loo,” says Sajid.

Farhad usually comes up with the punch-lines and one-liners, like Ajay Devgn’s famous lampooning of English in Bol Bachchan, Deepika Padukone’s lines in Chennai Express or the classic Chashme Baddoor line, “If you can’t change the girl, change the girl!” while Sajid concentrates more on the screenplay. 

But by no means is this a watertight arrangement. “We polish each other’s work,” notes Farhad. “And we fight and argue frequently,” adds his brother. The “with-it” element comes from constant social interaction with youngsters, and by watching all kinds of films.

Entertainment, they reveal, happened because Akshay Kumar invited them one day to direct a film. Reveals Sajid, “We always narrate our scripts along with shot divisions, our improvised vocal music and effects, and Akshay thought we would make good directors. The moment he said that, we narrated a story idea by K Subaash who has already written 15 hits down South, and Akshay brought in Ramesh Taurani on board and backed us to the hilt.” Entertainment has just released, and is a hit. 

This week, Shetty’s new film Singham Returns, an action drama, has hit the screen. How easy is it to deliver diverse genres? “All inspiration comes to us in the form of a timely shower from Up Above that we cannot explain,” states Farhad, and Sajid agrees. 

The bond with Rohit Shetty is rock-solid. “Rohit is so clear that when he likes something, he does not budge even if others try to change his mind. It’s a pleasure working with him,” they chorus. Adds Sajid, “Yes, he was a bit apprehensive during Singham.
This was also because we had mutually decided to modify the South Indian original, but our idea of making the widow’s revenge as a pivot worked big time.”

They are now working as writers-directors on Housefull 3 featuring Akshay Kumar, Abhishek Bachchan and Riteish Deshmukh. So, it will be back to comedy? “Yes, maybe we have a few more comic spines and bones in us than normal people,” chuckles Sajid.

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