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|July 26, 2001||
'Ghai breathes movies'
Dr Rajiv Vijayakar
Twenty-two of the 50 films he has scripted in the last 30 years have crossed the silver, golden and platinum jubliee mark. Ram Kelkar, all of 70, promises not to quit till the tally reaches 25.
After a break of almost three years, he is back in the saddle as script consultant to Subhash Ghai.
Kelkar oversees and doctors the script of Ghai's films, and has worked on Ghai's latest magnum opus Yaadein.
His relationship with Ghai dates back 25 years to Naatak (1976), where Subhash Ghai actually played a khalnayak's role to Vijay Arora's hero.
"The dialogue writer, Pandit Mukhram Sharma, was ill, so I wrote most of the dialogues, too. I wrote a line for Subhash's character which said, "Izzatdaar aadmi izzar ka sauda bhi izzat se karta hai!' He loved it and promised to call me when he became a director. When he began Kalicharan, he kept his promise and assigned me to do the screenplay."
Kalicharan went on to become a superhit and established Shatrughan Sinha as a frontline hero in the same year that Naatak flopped.
Ghai's next film, produced for Shatrughan's home banner, Vishwanath (1978) was also scripted by Kelkar. This association continued and included Ghai's first production, Hero (1983), Ram Lakhan (1989) and Khalnayak (1993).
Pardes and Taal, were not in the same box office league as these earlier hits. They were scripted during Kelkar's enforced absence from the scene thanks to a major kidney and gall-bladder problem.
"In a cutthroat world, Ghai is a man for whom friendships and relationships matter," says the veteran with a smile.
"He signed me on in 1999 as script consultant for Mukta Arts and unasked, footed the bill for my surgery," Kelkar says, gratefully. His son also works now with Audeus' (Ghai's studio) editing department.
What was his contribution to Yaadein as a script consultant ? "I was an active part of the discussions and brainstorming," replies the writer.
"At various points, I suggested key changes which were implemented, as in the climax. I will also be involved in the selection of concepts in Subhash's future films."
How has Yaadein shaped up? "It's an excellent film," he states, simply. "Ghai is very focused; he lives and breathes movies. We were travelling up the Ooty ghats for a song shoot once. He kept listening to the same song repeatedly, visualising how best he could picturise them! I was fed up and kept telling him to switch over to another song!"
Why wasn't he involved in Rahul? "I will be working only on those Mukta Arts projects which are conceived inhouse. Rahul was readymade project where the framework, the basic story and script were already done. Badhai Ho Badhai and the film with David Dhawan will also be the same."
"Subhash is planning a film with the legendary director K Vishwanath (Sargam, Kaamchor, Sanjog, Eeshwar) who writes his own stories. I will do the screenplay, for that," he adds.
Kelkar's record outside Mukta Arts is very impressive, both in Hindi and Marathi cinema.
The Hindi hit list includes his first-ever Hindi film Beimaan (1972), Do Jhoot and his own directorial debut Duniyadari, all for Sohanlal Kanwar. Aap Ki Kasam and Aasha for J Om Prakash; Haathkadi, Ilzaam, Aag Hi Aag and Aandhi Toofan for Pehlaj Nihalani, Piya Ka Ghar (Rajshri-Basu Chaterjee), Hatyara, Do Thug, Shanker Dada, his other directorial venture Pyaasi Aankhen starring Waheeda Rehman, Amol Palekar and Shabana Azmi, and the last film he scripted before his illness, Mahesh Kothare's 1996 Masoom.
The Marathi scene is no less impressive, with 11 hits of the 16 films written. Three State awards for Best Screenplay and Best Dialogues for Mumbaichaa Jawai and Best Screenplay for Kaka Maala Vaachwa.
Kelkar draws a lot from characters he has known in real life. "The character of Shammi Kapoor in Hero was based on a martinet retired police commissioner I had known, who used to behave as if he was still in the police force with his family!"
Writing a film is teamwork and difficult business, says Kelkar, who is now also diversifying into television. 'In Hindi films, one has to listen to and modify one's script according to opinions from stars, filmmakers and financiers. In Marathi, not a word in my script is changed."
He has been signed on for some more Marathi films, and a Hindi film with A Krishnamurthi (Ghar Ek Mandir and Swarg Se Sundar).
He also writes some episodes for Zee's Rishte and has plans to write and direct a hardhitting Hindi serial on the bright and dark shades of the medical profession.
"I like to work on one or two projects at a time, but practical considerations compel you to work on more," smiles Kelkar.
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