Jadunama throws light on twists and turns of Javed Akhtar’s journey

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

Pages -339

 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’).”