Nov 24 2015

First they were screenwriters, now they are stars

by   Sonal Pandya

From behind the scenes to the silver screen, here's a look at 11 screenwriters who went on to face the camera

1 Prayag Raj

The successful screenwriter and frequent collaborator of Manmohan Desai, Prayag Raj initially started out as a child artiste at Prithvi Theatres and went to be the understudy for the Kapoor brothers in their plays. He took on small roles in Aag (1948), Awaara (1951) and Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965) and started writing dialogues for films like Phool Bane Angaare (1963) and Sachaa Jhutha (1970). Even after he established himself as a screenwriter and director on films like Coolie (1983) and Hifazat (1987), he continued to act in a few of Merchant Ivory films starring Shashi Kapoor.

2 Salim Khan

Prior to becoming one half of Indian cinema's most prominent screenwriters, Salim Khan, came to Mumbai to became an actor. He was hired by filmmaker K. Amarnath for Rs. 400 a month but only played supporting characters in films like Teesri Manzil (1966), Sarhaadi Lootera (1966) and Wafadar (1977). Khan met Javed Akhtar; they teamed up to write films from 1971 and the rest, as they say, is history. There was no looking back after that. All three of Salim's sons have became actors and his eldest son, Salman, stars in three of the highest grossing Indian films of all time.

3 Kader Khan

Kader Khan had the knack of maintaining two careers at once until the 1990s. A brilliant dialogue writer, he got a chance to write them for Manmohan Desai's Roti (1974) and continued his association with him in films like Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Desh Premee (1982) and Coolie (1983). He received his first acting opportunity as a lawyer in Yash Chopra's Daag (1973). Since then, he has appeared in over 300 films as a father, a villain or comedic sidekick and written for nearly 100 films like Karma (1986), Agneepath (1990) and Aunty No. 1 (1998).

4 Honey Irani

Honey Irani started acting as a child in over 70 films. She and her sister Daisy often played precocious little boys in the 1950s. As she grew older, she appeared as Munni in Kati Patang (1970) and as Hema Malini's cousin in Seeta aur Geeta (1972). Irani wrote her first screenplay for Yash Chopra's Lamhe (1991), which was critically acclaimed but a failure financially. Yet she won her first Filmfare Award for Best Story for Lamhe. She went to write for other films like Darr (1993), Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai (2000) and the Krrish franchise featuring Hrithik Roshan.

5 Neeraj Vora

Neeraj Vora got his first film role in Ketan Mehta's Holi (1985) and since then has been mostly known as the comedic relief in films like Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992), Mast (1999) and Bol Bachchan (2012). Not many know that he's also the writer of several successful films like Rangeela (1995), Hera Pheri (2000) and Golmaal (2006), an adaptation of his superhit Gujarati play, Aflatoon (1992). His next project is writing and directing the third film of the Hera Pheri franchise, Hera Pheri 3.

6 Aparna Sen

Aparna Sen became an actor at 15 in Satyajit Ray's Teen Kanya (1961) and appeared in numerous Bengali films with award-winning roles. At 36, she wrote and directed her first feature, 36 Chowringhee Lane featuring Jennifer Kendal. The film won several awards around the world and in India. Sen continued to act her second career as filmmaker and accumulated more awards with every decade that passed by. She directed her daughter, Konkona Sen Sharma, in Mr. And Mrs. Iyer (2001) and won the National Award for Best Screenplay as well.

7 Anurag Kashyap

Today filmmaker Anurag Kashyap's name is almost like a genre unto itself. But before Kashyap became known as an internationally acclaimed director, mingling with other directors like Martin Scorsese on film festival juries, he was a struggling writer like most who first enter the Hindi film industry. His first screenplay, Ram Gopal Varma's Satya (1998) was a critical and box office success. On top of his roles as writer, director, editor and producer, Kashyap also added actor to his resume with small roles in his own films like That Girl in the Yellow Boots (2010) as well in other productions like Shagird (2011) and Trishna (2011).

8 Farhan Akhtar

The son of noted screenwriters, Javed Akhtar and Honey Irani, Farhan Akhtar's first film as a screenwriter, Dil Chahta Hai (2001) was considered a game changer in Hindi cinema. The trials and tribulations of urban young Indians struck a chord with audiences and came to be known as the voice of a generation. He turned to acting in Rock On!! (2008) which further won him acclaim as a singer as well. Further roles in Luck by Chance (2009), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013) prove that this acting bug is going to stick and the writer-director may take a back seat for awhile.

9 Abhishek Kapoor

Farhan's writer-director on Rock On!! (2008), Abhishek Kapoor, started out an actor opposite Twinkle Khanna in Uff! Yeh Mohabbat (1996). As his acting career failed to take off, Kapoor focused on instead on direction with his debut, Aryan: Unbreakable (2006) starring Sohail Khan as a boxer. His next two films, Rock On!! (2008) and Kai Po Che (2013), for which he co-wrote the screenplays, went to be huge successes and established him as a deft storyteller.

10 Rituparno Ghosh

The late National-Award winning filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh made his Hindi film debut with Raincoat (2003) and in acting with Arekti Premer Golpo (2011). He took on other roles with Memories in March (2011) and Chitrangada (2012). As a screenwriter and director, he brought out the best of the subjects he was dealing with, be it lonely individuals, sexuality or social strata. Ghosh won the National Film Award for Best Screenplay for his 1997 film Dahan, a look into traumatic incident that befalls a newly-wed couple on the streets of Kolkata.

11 Zeishan Qadri

Zeishan Qadri, who came up with the story and co-wrote the screenplays for Anurag Kashyap's two part magnum opus Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), actually hails from the small town in which the saga is set. He took up the role of Sardar Khan's other son, Definite Khan, in the second part and continued his acting career with Revolver Rani (2014) and other films currently under production. Qadri made his directorial debut with Meeruthiya Gangsters (2015) for which he also wrote the story and screenplay.