The photographs, the sketches and images published along with the text have not just highlighted what’s written but has also brought to life each one of those incidents in his life and also the characters involved. Each photograph and sketch published in Jadunama – Javed Akhtar’s journey, authorded by Arvind Mandloi stands out, holds out. A book review by Humra Quraishi
Title of the book- JADUNAMA – Javed Akhtar’s Journey
Author – Arvind Mandloi
Translator – Rakhshanda Jalil
Publisher – Amaryllis
Price – Rs 2999
Well, as the title of this volume relays, focus is on Javed Akhtar’s journey, along the personal and professional strain. Several plus elements to make it a highly readable volume.
Foremost, the photographs and the sketches and images published along with the text have not just highlighted what’s written but also brought to life each one of those incidents in his life and also the characters involved. Must comment, the publishers been absolutely focused on the production quality. Each photograph and sketch published in this volume stands out, holds out. This indeed is a sleek and sophisticated production.
Another highlight is short and long conversations – gulftagus – of the author of this volume, Arvind Mandloi, with the various personalities who came into Javed Akhtar’s life. Many of them still around.
The text seems brimming with details. Javed Akhtar coming forth with details of the various turns and twists in his life. And as they say, childhood memories never really fade or diminish, so let me quote Javed Akhtar from this book, on one of his first memories. A painful memory, lasting to this day. “Today life is good for me in every way, but I still remember that day from my childhood: 18 January 1953. The place is Lucknow, my nana’s house. My distraught khala takes my younger brother Salman, who is six-and-a-half years old, and me by the hand and brings us to the big room in the house. There, many women are sitting on the floor. My mother, wrapped in a white shroud, is placed on a takht; her face is uncovered. My nani sitting at the head of the takht, is crying, softly, slowly, as though she is exhausted. Two women are supporting her. My khala takes both of us children to the takht and says, ‘ See your mother for the last time.’ It was just yesterday I had turned eight. I am old enough. I know what death is. I look closely at my mother’s face so that I remember it well. My khala is saying, ‘Promise her that you will become something in life. Promise her that you will do something in life.’ I am unable to say anything. I just keep looking at her till some woman pulls the shroud over my mother’s face, covering it.”
This volume is laced with anecdotes and happenings and incidents from Javed Akhtar’s life. One after another …many! All recounted by him in one of those direct and un-complicated ways. That’s perhaps the forte and backbone of this volume.
Even the way he mentions about his first love letter. To quote him: “I am a little older. I am fifteen years old. I am writing a letter to a girl for the first time in my life. My friend Biloo is helping me. We prepare this letter together. The next day, I meet that girl in an empty badminton court. Gathering all my courage, I give her the letter. This is the first and last love letter of my life. (I have forgotten what was written in that letter but I remember that girl even today. ) I am leaving Aligarh after matric. My khala is crying copiously. My khalu is trying to quieten her by saying, ‘You are crying as though he is going to the battlefield and not Bhopal.’ (at that time neither he nor I knew that I was indeed going to a ‘battlefield’).”