'In his death, our film industry has lost a prominent voice. The movies will never be the same again.'
The death of Hindi cinema’s prolific writer Kader Khan has left David Dhawan bereft.
"Bhaijaan -- that’s what I called him -- was the backbone of my cinema," the filmmaker says.
"After we worked together for the first time in Bol Radha Bol, I could not think of directing a film without Bhaijaan. I wanted him to write and act in every film that I made, and I made sure it happened. But he was so busy. There was a time when every big commercial film had Bhaijaan’s contribution," he adds.
Recalling Kader Khan’s contribution, David says, “When Bhaijaan was in my film, I felt safe and secure. He was my go-to friend and ally in my projects. Koi bhi problem hoti thi shooting mein (If there was any problem during the shooting) I would run to him.
"As a writer, he was next to none. After his health started failing, I had to work with others but I always had Bhaijaan on my mind. I would tell my writers, ‘Yeh scene Kader Khansaab ki jaisa chahiye.’
"He has left a vacuum in my career."
Speaking of Kader Khan’s improvisational powers, David recalls, "He would rewrite a scene and dialogues on the spot during the shoot. He took every shot to another level. As a writer, he made every hero sound credible and spectacular.
"Just look at Bhaijaan's contribution to Amitji (Bachchan)’s onscreen persona! In all those Bachchan blockbusters by Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra in the 1970s and 80s, Bhaijaan’s dialogues were supreme.
"He would get into character as the hero and show the leading man how to deliver the dialogues. In Amar Akbar Anthony, Bhaijaan showed Amitji how to speak in that Bambaiyya-Catholic style. The result was amazing.”
Kader Khan was like an elder brother to David Dhawan as well.
"I could share my thoughts with him," he says. "He was a man of great self-respect. He would give himself completely to those who respected him and his work but recoil from those who did not give him respect. Unke andar swabhimaan tha (He had self-respect).
"I was in awe of his never-ending talent. In Bol Radha Bol, he had such a difficult role of a character, who suffers from night blindness. The way the role was written and the way Bhaijaan played it, zameen aasman ka farq tha (there was a huge difference). He did things on camera that I could never imagine.
"After Bol Radha Bol, he worked his magic with me in Raja Babu, Coolie No 1 and Sajan Chale Sasural. If these films were hits, a large part of the credit goes to Bhaijaan."
The last film they worked on was Mujhse Shaadi Karogi.
"His health started failing and he moved to Canada to be with his three sons and daughters-in-law. Bhaijaan and his family took up Canadian citizenship, so it was only befitting that he be put to rest there," he says.
"The worst blow to Bhaijaan’s health was his loss of speech. The scholar, who wove magic with words, became wordless.
"I couldn’t work with Bhaijaan in that condition. I could deal with him being on a wheelchair but could not come to terms with Bhaijaan losing his voice.
"In his death, our film industry has lost a prominent voice. The movies will never be the same again.
"Yes, I work with other writers but can only think of Bhaijaan as my writer, collaborator, friend and mentor. He was in a lot of pain in his final years."