From Anubhav of Bazaar to Silsila of Zindagi: Sagar Sarhadi

A walk through the crossroads


March 25, 2021

/ By / Delhi

From Anubhav of Bazaar to Silsila of Zindagi: Sagar Sarhadi

Sarhadi was known for his work in movies like Kabhie Kabhie and Bazaar

Do lafzhai ... tanha, akele lekin ek saath likh diye jaye toh ek duniya, ek kainaat, ek talash, ek lamha, ek khushi...ban sakte hai (There are two words... lonely, alone but written together, can become one world, one soul, one quest, one moment, one happiness...) This iconic dialogue from the movie Silsila(1981) is one of many such gems gifted to Hindi cinema by Sagar Sarhadi who passed away earlier this week.

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Born in the scenic town of Baffa near Abbottabad, now in Pakistan, in1933, Sarhadi had always been passionate about cinema. Post-independence, like million others living in the North West Frontier Province of undivided India, he too was forced to abandon his childhood home in Baffa and move to Delhi overnight. Later he changed his name from Ganga Sagar Talvar to Sagar Sarhadi to honour his connection with his home town.

His passion for art and literature eventually drove him to write and direct films, but before entering the film industry, Sagar Sarhadi wrote Urdu short stories and later worked as an Urdu playwright. Some of his earlier works are Taibloo and Mirza Sahebaan. His first film Patni was released in 1970 after which he wrote the Basu Bhattacharya’s acclaimed Anubhav (1971) for which he teamed up with Kapil Kumar. It was after watching his play Mirza Sahebaan that Yash Chopra hired Sarhadi to write Kabhie Kabhie (1976) which turned out to be a huge success and also won him a Filmfare award for best screenplay and dialogues.

After the success of Kabhie Kabhie, even though swamped with offers, Sarhadi was wary of his future ventures. In an interview in 2016 he had said, “I wanted only as much money on which I could survive on but I wanted enough time to read and write.”

He later went on to write several critically acclaimed films like Amitabh Bachchan starrer Silsila and Chandni (1989) featuring Sridevi, Rishi Kapoor and Vinod Khanna.  Some of his other works include Faasle (1985), Rang (1993), Zindagi (1976) and Karamyogi (1978). He also wrote the dialogues of Hrithik Roshan’s first and big break Kaho na….pyaar hai in the year 2000.

Fed up with the industry’s treatment towards writers he decided to try his hand at direction. His directional debut Bazaar (1982) is considered to be a masterpiece by many film critics and the audience. The film is a complete package with heart wrenching dialogues like “Maine apse zindagi maangi thi, aaj main apne armaano ki laash vaapas le kar jaa rahi hu” (I asked you for life, today I am taking back the dead body of my aspirations), soulful music composed by Mohammed Zahur Khayyam and a passionate romance. The story, set in Mumbai and Hyderabad revolves around the lives of two sisters Najma (Smita Patil) and Shabnam (Supriya Pathak)who fall into the trap of marital hardsell. The film also stars Farooque Shaikh and Naseeruddin Shah in lead roles and BL Chopra and Bharat Kapoor as supporting cast.

After Bazaar his next directional venture Tere Shaher Mein starring Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil and Deepti Naval never saw a theatrical release and put Sarhadi in a financial crisis. His other films did not have much luck either as Chausar, directed by Sarhadi starring the award-winning actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui was shot in 2004-2005 was finally released in 2018.

Though disappointed with the quality of cinema and songs in his later years, he still managed to write exuberant dialogues for superstars like Shahrukh Khan in Deewana (1992) and Hrithik Roshan in Kaho na ….pyaarhai.

While he penned many love sagas in his long and glorious career, the writer-director never married. In an interview in 2017, reminiscing about his life he said, “When I was young, I couldn’t afford marriage, and by the time I began doing well for myself, I discovered that the institution of marriage didn’t suit me. A few women came into my life but they left me one after another as they wanted to settle down and have kids. But I never left any woman.”

The veteran writer and filmmaker passed away on March 21, 2021 at the age of 88 years in Mumbai leaving behind a rich legacy of iconic dialogues and cinematic masterpieces.



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