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When Jan Nisar Akhtar, son Javed wrote for Mr India

For the poet-lyricist's 40th death anniversary, we take a look at the both father and son who wrote the lyrics for similarly named films, made 26 years apart.

Sonal Pandya

Shekhar Kapur’s Mr India (1987), starring Anil Kapoor and Sridevi, acquired blockbuster status on its release. It stands out in the careers of everyone involved in the making of the film. From producer Boney Kapoor to writers Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, they all count the movie as monumental in their lives.

Every 1990s youngster is aware of the 1987 film as it had acquired cult status by then. Last year, the cast and crew had a reunion of sorts on a panel at the 17th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival where plans for a possible sequel were revealed.

For Javed Akhtar, who also wrote the lyrics for Mr India, it was also a wonderful coincidence that 26 years before him, his father, poet Jan Nisar Akhtar, wrote the lyrics for another Mr India, released in 1961. Starring IS Johar and Geeta Bali, this Mr India was directed by GP Sippy, father of Ramesh Sippy. Johar wrote the story, screenplay and dialogues for the film.

A still from Mr India (1961)

Mr India (1961) revolved around Gullo (Johar), a dandy with his beloved indie dog, Charlie. Charlie falls in love with Jackie, a pure-bred English dog belonging to Bambie (Geeta Bali). The rich Rai Bahadur’s daughter Bambie is dismayed to find Jackie associating with a common street dog whose owner happens to be Gullo. But, eventually, the two – that is Bambie and Gullo – are drawn together. The only spanner in the works is the infamous bandit Jung Bahadur, who looks like Gullo, who causes havoc with his presence.

Acclaimed poet and occasional lyricist Jan Nisar Akhtar wrote six of Mr India’s eight songs with numbers like ‘Dekha Na Jaye’ sung by Geeta Dutt and ‘Kya Soch Raha Matwale’ sung by Mohammad Rafi. Lyricist Anjan wrote the remaining two songs while GS Kohli composed the music.

Meanwhile, Javed Akhtar wrote all the songs for the 1987 film, including hits ‘Kate Nahi Katate' and ‘Hawa Hawaii’. Music composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal were behind the super-hit music of Mr India (1987).

Javed, whose screenplays with Salim Khan for Deewaar (1975), Sholay (1975), and Don (1978) live on as some of Hindi cinema’s greatest films, began writing lyrics with Silsila (1981) on Yash Chopra's insistence. He is a five-time National award-winner for Best Lyrics. The Sahitya Akademi honoree, Jan Nisar Akhtar, started his stint as a lyricist with Shaheed Lateef’s Arzoo (1950) for which litterateur Ismat Chughtai wrote the story and screenplay.