- Team SWA
- 04 September 2019
The genius humorist!
A tribute to SHARAD JOSHI (May 21, 1931 - September 5, 1991) - Compiled from conversations with Mahesh Bhatt, Kamlesh Pandey, Aanand Mahendroo, Rajendra Gupta, Manjul Sinha, Raman Kumar, Robin Bhatt and Sharad Joshi’s daughters Neha Sharad and Richa Sharad
Sharad Joshi – the name at once inspires a chuckle and a smile. Most Indians, especially those in the Hindi belt have grown up enjoying his great satirical wit, his pointed political barbs and his magical way of saying things. So good was his command on his language that writers till today have failed to translate his writings into English. His popularity was so great that he used to get regularly mobbed whenever he visited Bhopal.
From 1985-1991, Sharad Joshi wrote the column Pratidin for Navbharat Times (NBT) which took his popularity to new heights and also played a major role in the high circulation of the newspaper. Mumbai also meant TV serials and later films. A producer looking for him went to Ujjain only to be told that Sharad Joshi was now based in Mumbai.
The first TV serial he wrote was WAH JANAAB in 1983. This was followed by YEH JO HAI ZINDAGI. After this Sharad Joshi was unstoppable and serial after serial poured out from this fertile creative genius.
Sharad Joshi was born in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, on May 21, 1931 in a family that had no tradition of writers. But for Sharad, being a writer was a childhood dream. He moved to Indore for his education and finished his B.A. from Holkar College where Salim Khan, who was to go on to become a famous Writer, was also studying.
It was around this time that Sharad Joshi started getting published in Nayi Duniya. But since writing wasn’t acceptable to his father, he employed a tactic to hide this from him. He wrote his column under the alias of Sharad Chandra Joshi and Brahmaputra!
His career flourished while he wrote for newspapers and radio in Indore. His short satirical articles would get published in prominent Hindi newspapers and magazines like Dharmyug, where he wrote the column Baithe-Thaale, Ravivar, Saptahik Hindustan, Kadambari, Gyanoday etc. His write-ups were an instant hit. He not only made his mark in the literary circle but also started gaining mass popularity. It also made him the favorite of editors of many leading Hindi newspapers like Prabhash Joshi, Rajendra Mathur, Dharmveer Bharti (the editor of Dharmyug),and Manohar Shyam Joshi.
Sharad Joshi became a frequent visitor to Mumbai where he participated in the kavi-sammelan Chakkalas or to meet his pals. He had also shifted to Bhopal from Indore where it was becoming troublesome for him to continue his political writing along with a government job. He preferred relocating to Mumbai over Delhi, and in mid 70s, landed up in the city maximum. His family later joined him in 84-85.
He hadn’t come to Mumbai to search for a career in films, or even TV for that matter. He couldn’t relate to the films of those times. But he didn’t have an aversion for the medium itself. Sharad Joshi had his own ideas and wanted to write something different, breaking away from the existing norms. At the same time he had became a household name as a satirist. Therefore, owing to his massive popularity, offers for writing for TV and films started pouring in.
His first serial Wah Janaab (which also introduced Shekhar Suman), came in 1983. The iconic show Yeh Jo Hai Zindgai followed.
YEH JO HAI ZINDAGI, which aired on Doordarshan; is still considered Sharad Joshi’s biggest gift to the audio/visual medium. It was the first sit-com on Indian TV, which laid the foundation for a generation of comedy shows. This show revolved around comic happenings in the lives of Ranjit Verma (Shafi Inamdar) and Renu Verma (Swaroop Sampat), a married couple who have Renu's unmarried and unemployed younger brother Raja (Rakesh Bedi) living with them. YJHZ was a milestone and its plot is still repeated till today, over and over again.
Kundan Shah and Manjul Sinha had been thinking of this subject for some time and had an outline of where they wished to go.They now needed a writer who could translate their ideas into reality. Manjul suggested the names of Sharad Joshi and Harishankar Parsai whom he considers his childhood heroes. Kundan Shah, the director who is esteemed for having an exceptional flair in comedy, was quick to agree.
They went to Parsai first who had no respect for TV in those days and thus, refused straight away. After that Sharad Joshi was searched for all across Bhopal, Indore and Ujjain before they realized that he had moved to Mumbai and was already writing for films.
When they finally met Sharad Joshi, they found that he would just not open up.They narrated him an episode about a salesman selling a sofa-cum-bed but Sharad Joshi could not see the humor in it. The scene was enacted then and there, in the producer’s room, and it had him in splits. From that moment onward, he could adapt perfectly to what was needed of him. Sharad Joshi confessed much later to Manjul that he was actually a bit distrustful assuming them (him & Kundan Shah) as quite young for a job like that. He had come for their first meeting having already decided that he would rather reject the offer and will go for some shopping in the same locality!
Manjul Sinha developed such a warm alliance with Sharad Joshi and till the latter was alive, Sinha never started a project without consulting him. He was Manjul’s spiritual and emotional support. Manjul would go to Sharad Joshi even with his other projects asking for suggestions and he would always welcome him.
Later, Raman Kumar joined Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi as the director. He had also been familiar with Sharad Joshi in advance and was amongst his ardent readers. When Kumar finally came close to Sharad Joshi during the course of YJHZ, he realized that he had a great degree of conscientiousness and every word he wrote meant something. Raman went on to direct many other shows written by Sharad Joshi including Devi Ji (which showed the struggle of a couple living in an urban setting and which again had Swaroop Sampat), Haso Haso, Apni-Apni Bansi Apna-Apna Raag and Yeh Duniya Hai Gazab Ki which was woven around a man dealing with government organizations and was Sharad Joshi’s last serial.
Sharad Joshi also wrote a show named Chunaav Chinha Angootha for Mr. Aanand Mahendroo, notable television director who has made the TV shows Idhar-Udhar & Dekh Bhai Dekh. BSkyB TV, London commissioned this show. It was the first political satire based in India. But unfortunately, since all its rights are with BSkyB one cannot view it in India. Sharad Joshi also wrote the dialogues of Idhar-Udhar for Mr. Aanand.
Apart from this, Sharad Joshi also wrote Vikram Aur Vetal, Sinhasan Battisie, Pyaale Mai Toofan (which had 12 minute episodes), Guldasta, Dane Anaar Ke (starring Nina Gupta) and the Hindi translation of Malgudi days for TV.
In 2009, Sharad Joshi’s stories were picked up by SAB TV to be converted into a show named Lapataganj. It was marketed through massive ad campaigns, which focused on the recall value of Sharad Joshi’s name. The show hit the bull’s eye and successfully continues to run on the channel. Lapataganj has been a trendsetter that has encouraged producers to make shows on P.L. Deshpande and Harishankar Parsai.
Sharad Joshi wrote for films mainly as a dialogue writer. There is an interesting account of how he developed a liking for the medium of cinema. When Naya Daur (1957) was being shot in Bhopal, Sharad Joshi had gone to the sets where for the first ever time he saw what a film script looked like. He also heard a lecture by I. S. Johar on scriptwriting.
He finally started writing films in the mid 70s and wrote Kshitij (1974). His next film was Chhoti Si Baat (1975) (starring Ashok Kumar & Amol Palekar, Dir: B.R. Chopra) which is still considered a classic when it comes to witty dialogue writing. After that he wrote for films like Shyam Tere Kitne Naam, Saanch Ko Aanch Nahin and Godhuli (1979). His next film Utsav (1984, Dir: Girish Karnad), had a very intense theme and an epic setting; Sharad Joshi was called up to soften the mood of the heavy subject by his lighthearted dialogues.
DIL HAI Ke MANTA NAHIN (1991) was Sharad Joshi’s biggest success. It was directed by Mahesh Bhatt who has his own account of his acquaintance with Sharad Joshi. Mr. Bhatt says:
“I first ran into Sharad Joshi through Salim Khan saheb. He was sitting there with him when I had gone for a script session of Naam. Initially, he was supposed to write the dialogues for Naam. They both came from Indore and seemed to have some kind of a past which they shared.”
Mr. Mahesh Bhatt adds sharing what he recalls of Sharad Joshi’s demeanor, “He came across as a very unusual man; A man with a literary background who still had the fragrance of India emanating from every pore of his being! He was different from the new breed of writers who were inspired by the latest American blockbuster that had come on video. But for some reason this man left an impact on me. He had a kind of charm and a body language which was unusual. In my interactions with him, I noticed a lot of silence in him. He listened very intently unlike the business of films where people talk too much. I learnt one thing from him that nobody learns anything when he is talking. You learn things when you listen.”
Mr. Bhatt goes on and shares his experiences of Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin, “We, including Amir Khan, Robin Bhatt and myself; had zeroed down on making the Frank Capra masterpiece of the 40’s- It Happened One Night. We realized that the structure of a comedy is not enough when you have a light-hearted romantic comedy depicting two lovers on the road. We needed to give it a lot of flesh and body. It needed to have the resonance of India. And that’s when Sharad Joshi saheb flashed through our consciousness. When he came I told him very simply –Sharadji, here is the masterpiece of Frank Capra –one of the biggest hits of all time. Please take this, read it, inhale it, metabolize it and write a film from your heart. That will become our beginning point to consider whether this film should be given legs. He was taken aback by my candor and perhaps he had not enjoyed this kind of freedom before. But it came from a deep respect for him and the realization of the fact that you were dealing with a professional who believed in the integrity of his work. Sharad Joshi took that narrative, lived with it and turned that particular seed of an idea into a completely different film. In fact, my wife Soni considers Dill Hai Ke Manta Nahin as a better film than It Happened One Night. I remember how Sharad Joshi brought into the film his own understanding of a journalist which reflects in Raghu’s relationship with his boss. Only a man who has spent a good deal of time making his living through journalism could have done this.”
Mr. Mahesh Bhatt goes further, “I remember him narrating his scenes and we always sat with perpetual smiles on our faces. That was one script whose dialogues were almost untouched by us. When we went into the principle photography phase, we tried to retain every single sentence which had flowered from Sharad Joshi’s heart. If Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin is a contemporary film even in the second decade of the twenty first century, then it is because it had the heartbeat of this great writer named Sharad Joshi whom I was privileged to meet. Take away Sharad Joshi from this film, and it’s empty and dead soul. It’s been indeed a great honor to have crossed paths with this great writer with tremendous integrity, grace and a charm which is unusual to find in this industry.”
Writer of many hit films, Mr. Robin Bhatt, was incidentally the scriptwriter of Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin. He had known Sharad Joshi even before he started as a writer. Being a friend to Shafi Inamdar, Raman Kumar and Kundan Shah, he would go to the sets of Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi where he would love reading the scripts penned by Sharad Joshi. Later, he suggested his name to Mr. Mahesh Bhatt. Robin Bhatt says, “Sharad Joshi adapted the humor of that English film (It Happened One Night) so well in Hindi that the similarities were hard to make out.”
Robin Bhatt and Sharad Joshi became friends and spent time together in Ooty where the film was being shot. He later also acted in Sharad Joshi’s Wah Janaab.
Udaan (1997, starring Rekha) was Sharad Joshi’s last film; it was released after his death. Sharad Joshi also wrote a couple of films titled Isi Bahaane and Subeh Dopehar Shaam for Anand Mahendroo which unfortunately never got made.
What impresses Mr. Mahesh Bhatt about Sharad Joshi can be accounted to this genius writer’s seriousness and a disciplinary approach towards his art. Aanand Mahendroo would often feel troubled in thinking of new ideas and once asked, “Sharadji, can someone discipline creativity?”
To his great wonder, the man who never been to an institute, was extremely articulate in explaining what writing was. Sharad Joshi told him that his (Aanand’s) problem wasn’t the lack of ideas but having too many ideas. The lessons which Mr. Mahendroo took from Sharad Joshi were ones he had never learnt in any institute.
Sharad Joshi told him, “Yes, you can discipline creativity. You create with your mind, intuition and observation. Whether it’s me, you, a dancer or an actor, we have our own medium of expression. I write, you direct, a dancer dances and an actor acts. But what is that which we all have in common? We either observe life, or we distort life or we go into a completely different world through our imagination, which has nothing to do with reality. You are allowed to do all three and you can also mix them and create your own genres. Your imagination and observation will always come in handy in this. These two are interlinked. A vivid imagination will make your observation very keen and a keen observation will make your imagination vivid. You can control the end-product of their intermingling.”
The great writer went further underlining his own methodology, “Fix a time of the day and every day, sit with a pen and paper. No matter what ideas you get, good or bad, write them. If you do it for 21 days it will become a habit and by the 90th day, it will be in your subconscious to generate ideas at that particular time of the day. I practice it myself. I get up at 6:00-6:15 and at 7:00 I start my writing which goes about to 10:00 or 11:00 depending on the flow of ideas and my deadlines. Neither my wife nor my kids disturb me at that time.”
“That part of the day there would be pin-drop-silence in the house!” Ms. Richa Sharad and Ms. Neha Sharad recall with a nostalgic smile. After getting done with writing his column, Sharad Joshi would spend some time with his family and post lunch, he would take up finishing his TV& Film writing. In the evening he would go out for a kavi-sammelan, a walk or to meet his buddies to do what he called ‘adda.’ He considered having candid conversation with a bunch of close friends as very important for his creativity. He would explain to Mr. Mahendroo, “Creative expression should always be compelled and challenged. If you like everything which I write then I won’t do a second film with you. Because then I am not growing. You need to challenge me for what I have done wrong and what I have done right. I take note of the reactions of my peers, compare myself and get inspired. If I criticize them, then also it helps me in my growth.”
Homework and hard work were Sharad Joshi’s keys to impeccable writing. When he was to write two plays he read hundreds others. He would write very slowly and with a lot of patience and a great deal of thinking. But he would never compromise on the quality of his writing and the result was evident. Raman Kumar says, “There was never a second draft with Sharad Joshi. Whatever he would write and give us in the first hand was the final thing.”
There is a marvelous anecdote which Kumar shares and which superbly exemplifies Sharad Joshi’s deftness as a writer. He told Raman and his crew much later what he had been doing while writing Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi. The female lead of the show was played by Swaroop Sampat who is from Gujarat and her Hindi was rather weak at that time. But except this one limitation, she was a wonderful actress with a strong background in Gujrati Theater. So, Sharad Joshi thought of a way to put her at ease with the character. He would intentionally refrain from giving her lengthy dialogues and designed his scripts in a fashion which would require her to speak the least. To compensate, he gave her the best punch-lines! Swaroop Sampat would end up getting more applause than the Hindi speaking actors Shafi Inamdar and Rakesh Bedi. And the makers of the show, including the director Raman Kumar, thought it was something which was happening all by itself. They thought it was coming natural to her character. They had no idea that Sharad Joshi was maneuvering it. Not even Swaroop Sampat.
Sharad Joshi told them a year later that it was his conscious decision to give Renu’s character small sentences. This is a rare example where a writer had been playing a silent but very important part in helping the actor. It illustrates his great attention to details.
Initially, Sharad Joshi would touch upon international politics in his satires but his focus later shifted to India. In a career span of over 30 years, he penned over 4500 articles.
His forte was political satires and initially, he thought it would be difficult for him to adapt to TV. But he made a smooth transition. Manjul Sinha explains the reason “I never doubted this. The kinds of articles which I had read of him were indicative of his talent. Even the slapstick elements of farcical humor were inherent in his writing. In fact he brought in a lot of depth in TV writing by adding his satirical flavor.”
Sharad Joshi’s brilliance was that all his comedy would come from his anger and was directed at the issues that irked him. Today, one finds that almost 90 percent of humorists or comedians make jokes on their wives. Sharad Joshi wasn’t one of them. He would direct his comedies on social issues and he never wrote something concerning his own personal problems. That was his belief system.
But the effortlessness with which he wrote would make anyone wonder if it all came so easy to him. On the surface it did appear so. But only he Sharad Joshi knew how dexterously he went about doing his job. And the result was always a fruitful one. Robin Bhatt shares his own experience of reading Sharad Joshi’s scripts, “If he was to give you 25 pages, you could be sure that there would be at least 50 moments where you would either smile or give away a small chuckle.”
Sharad Joshi was primarily a literary writer who also wrote for TV and films, which essentially require teamwork. No matter how comfortably he adapted to writing for the two mediums, his experience of co-writing wasn’t up to scratch. When he tried it while writing for a particular film, he realized that he was unnecessarily being put into a double process. It didn’t take him much time to quit and pin down his explanation as, “I am made to cross the barriers again and again, which I had already crossed while writing alone.” Similarly, he wasn’t quite happy with the existing standards of dialogue writing. He would fume, “Everyone is speaking the same language. This isn’t dialogue writing. I can do it in two days!”
Sharad Joshi would never go to film-sets. He was content giving his hundred percent to his writing where, incidentally, he never moved away from social themes. Even his TV writing, which appears comic on the surface; was actually a social commentary on a deeper level.
In terms of writing style and expression he took satire to a great level. He would make his comment without having to imply any double-meaning to his words or falling to any sort of cheapness. But the fact that he maintained the dignity of language and of his own as well, doesn’t mean that his humor would fall short of the sting. On the contrary, it would be even more hard-hitting.
Mr. Kamlesh Pandey met Sharad Joshi through his friend and another satirist Suresh Upadhyay and his experience of Sharad Joshi has been mostly formal. He sums it up as, “He would raise a question in such a style that the target of his satire would feel the pinch but was unable to do anything!”
Mr. Aanand Mahendroo recalls some interesting lines which Sharad Joshi penned for him. His show Idhar-Udhar was about two working girls living in a PG. One is an air hostess and the other one works in an advertising agency. And they are both are lethargic by nature. In a particular scene their landlady, who is about to go away for a while, instructs them about household errands and adds,
"इत्ता बड़ा बड़ा छोकरी और सैंस के नामपे निल! (Such big girls and are they are nil when it comes to having a sense.)"
Later, the girls goof up and find the water is running all over in their house. They are mopping the floor when one says to the other,
"एक काम करते हैं! (Let’s do one thing.)"
"काम तो मुझसे बिलकुल नहीं होता और तू कह रही है काम करें? (You know I feel too lazy in doing anything and you are asking me for the same?)"
"नहीं वो काम नहीं. एक काम हो सकता है. क्यों न हम एक पेईंग गेस्ट रख लें? (Not that. One thing can be done. Why don’t we keep a paying guest?)"
"लेकिन आंटी आएँगी तब? (And when auntie would return?)”
"जब वो आएँगी तो उसे भगा देंगे! (We would get rid of him when she returns.)"
Mr. Anand Mahendroo remarks, “I remember these dialogues even after 30 years. You can imagine how inspired I must have been to shoot them!”
Sharad Joshi’s approach was very simple. Mahendroo tells about another scene from his show Chunaav Chinha Angootha which starts with the general secretary sitting and discussing something with his fellows when another minster comes. Their conversation is as follows:
"पांय लागू, बशेशर जी! (I touch your feet, Basheshar Ji!)"
"आओ आओ, केदार. सत्तनारायण भवन का रास्ता कैसे भूल गये आज? (Come, Kedar. What brings you to Satyanarayan Bhavan today?)"
"बस आपके चरणों की धूल फांकने चले आये. (I have come desiring to see you, my lord.)"
"तुम अपने मुंह से ना फूटो तो हम बताएं तुम यहाँ क्यों आये हो? (If you don’t want to say it yourself, shall I enlighten you with your reason of coming here?)"
"आप जानते हैं कि हम पर बलात्कार का इल्जाम सरासर गलत है. हमने जब भी किसी पराई स्त्री के साथ सम्बन्ध किया है उसकी मर्जी के साथ किया है! (You know that the allegation of rape against me is completely false. Whenever I have had intimacy with other woman, it’s been with her consent!)”
THE PROBLEM WITH TRANSLATION
Sharad Joshi’s work has been translated into Gujrati and Marathi but whenever anyone tries to translate him into English, they fail. This problem had surfaced itself much earlier. In the latter half of the 80’, when Sharad Joshi was writing his column Pratidin for Navbharat Times it crossed all parameters of popularity. So much so, that the circulation of this Hindi newspaper, which is a subsidiary of the Times Group, got doubled. It prompted the group to publish an English version of the same in the Times of India. It was given a try over and over again but no one could do the job and the Times Group had to drop the idea.
Mr. Kamlesh Pandey provides the explanation, “One can translate him but can’t retain his flavor! To comprehend Sharad Joshi and to enjoy the witticism of his writings, one has to read him in his original language which is Hindi.As far as translating his work in English is concerned, it needs a satirist of Sharad Joshi’s stature who can perform this difficult task.”
Many publishers have in fact been waiting for the same to happen.Mr. Pandey is spot on. He adds with a rueful smile, “I have not read a deeper piece on bureaucracy as Jeep Par Sawaar Illiyaan. Today people go down to cheap jokes to create humor because they lack the depth of Sharad Joshi.”
As it is almost impossible to replicate Sharad Joshi’s humor into any other form, it would be equally unfair to talk about his writing style without the support of citations. Here are a couple of excerpts which demonstrate Sharad Joshi’s flair of the language and demonstrate why it is so difficult to translate him.
The first one has Sharad Joshi making use of flowery Hindi to make his comment on the scenario which arises during the times of elections:
"हाय अभी तो स्वार्थों के चकवा-चकवी जी भर मिल भी नहीं पाए थे. निजी सुखों की कमल जोड़ी से भ्रष्ट पवन मधुर छेड़छाड़ कर ही रहा था. अभी अभी तो यह सेवा भावी तन डनलपपिलो के मनोहर पाश में सिमटा ही था कि समय के निर्दयी मुर्गे ने बांग दे कर कहा कि चुनाव आ गये!"
(“Haay Abhi Toh Swaarthon Ke Chakwa-Chakwi Jee Bhar Mil Bhee Nahi Paaye The. Niji Sukho Kee Kamal Jodi Se Bhrasht Pawan Madhur Chhedchhaad Kar Hee Raha Tha. Abhi Abhi Toh Yah Sewa Bhaavi Tan Danlap-Pilo (Dunlop Pillow) Ke Manohar Paash Mein Simta Hee Tha Ki Samay Ke Nirdayi Murge Ne Bang Dekar Kaha Ki Chunaaw Aa Gaye!”)
In the following one, Sharad Joshi declares that his focus was never to shift away from political satires:
"राधारुपी जनता को बिलखता छोड़, सत्तारुपी रुक्मिणी में खोये ओ रमणीय, तू चमचों से घिरा रहने पर कहीं यह न भूल जाना कि मैं सदा तेरी ही मूरत ध्यान में रख कर कलम उठाता हूँ!"
(“Raadharoopi Janta Ko Bilakhtachhod, Sattaroopi Rukmini Mein Khoye O Ramneey, Too Chamcho Se Ghira Rehane Par Kahin Yah Na Bhool Jana Ki Main Sada Teri Hee Moorat Dhyaan Mein Rakhkar Kalam Uthata Hoon!”)
(Both the passages are from: Chunaav Geetika: Sarlaarth Page 149 -159 Book: Jeep Par Sawaar Illiyaan(Leeches Riding The Jeep) Publisher: Rajkamal Paperbacks © Neha Sharad Joshi)
A very fascinating and strikingly special aspect of Sharad Joshi’s writing was his stage presence. He was used to read his articles and humorous stories in poetry sessions and was extremely popular for the same.
Mr. Kamlesh Pandey has been a fan of Sharad Joshi’s recitations. He says, “He took gadya (fiction) on stage and made it a visual thing. He took the courage to read out his satirical writings in front of an audience and created his own niche. I would especially go to a kavi-sammelan just to listen to Sharad Joshi. My experience of watching him on stage has been tremendous. He had what you call a dry sense of humor. While reading on stage, he would be poker faced. He won’t even give away a smile but the audience would burst into laughter at his every line!”
NOTEBALE LITERARY WORKS
Even after twenty one years of his death, Sharad Joshi’s work has not become dated. He is one the most respectable names in the field of Hindi satire. About a dozen of scholars have finished their PHD on his work.
In all, Sharad Joshi wrote 21 books. The list includes: Parikrama, Kisi Bahane, Tilasm, Jeep Par Sawar Illiyaan, Raha Kinare Baith, Meri Shreshth Rachnaye, Doosri Satah, Yatha Sambhav, Yatra Tatra Sarvatra, Yatha Samay, Ham Bhrashtan Ke Bhrasht Hamare, Main Main aur Kewal Main and Pratidin in three parts.
Sharad Joshi also wrote plays. His satirical play Ek Tha Gadha Urf Aladat Khan is regarded as one of the most popular plays of the last decade. Famous actor Rajendra Gupta has been a family friend to him and also directed his play Andhon Ka Haathi.
Five more books, viz. Raag Bhopali (articles related to Bhopal), Sharad Parikrama, Vote Le Dariya Mein Daal (his political articles) and Ghaav Karein Gambhir (short stories); all compilations of his write-ups; are being published by Rajkamal Prakashan.
Other major publishers which have been publishing Sharad Joshi’s work are KitabGhar, Vani Prakashan & Bhartiya Gyaanpeeth.
FAMILY & FRIENDS
It was in late 50’s, when Sharad Joshi was writing for newspapers and radio in Indore; that he met and married Irfana Siddiqi (later Irfana Sharad). She was a writer, radio artiste and a renowned theater actress from Bhopal.As a writer she was a contemporary of Ismat Chugati and her writings would get published in Nayi Duniya. As an actress, she had also worked in Bharat Ek Khoj. Ms. Neha Sharad shares with a delightful smile, “Pappa, had done his BA (Bachelors of Arts) while our mother had gone till finishing MA (Masters of Arts). It would give her an opportunity to pull his leg stressing the fact that the she was more educated than him!”
Sharad and Irfana have three daughters, Bani, Richa and Neha Sharad. Neha Sharad is an actress and a poet who has also published a book named Khuda Se Khud Tak.
AS A PERSON
Sharad Joshi had no showy attitude like many other writers and would be dressed in simple shirt and pants. He had a great sense of humor accompanying his simple and honest nature. He was soft-spoken and would speak very little but his charming presence would always be accompanied by a witty smile.
As a writer, he was eminently focused and never went after money. On the contrary, he stressed on leading a simple life. He would say, “I write for the common man. We both should be at the same grounds!” Sharad Joshi lived the life of a progressive socialist who didn’t want to divert his attention from his goal. He sacrificed a lot for his virtuous belief. He deliberately would not save up any money and continued with his simple standard of living.
Sharad Joshi was not a business savvy person and would often get paid lesser than what he actually deserved. But he still managed being the only earning member of his family with a tremendous gusto. He was very principled and very judgmental. He had an opinion about everything and was very vocal about it.
He had a unique friend circle which comprised of film-people, theatre artistes and writers.Apart from a few friends who would be a regular to his house like Rajendra Gupta, Rajendra Mathur, Suresh Upadhyay, Aanand Mahendroo and Prabhash Joshi; he had warm relations with the film fraternity.
Mr. Mahendroo tells about his own unusual friendship with the writer who was much senior to him, “At times we would have small quarrels and after a couple of days hewould drop at my place and say, “Serve me something to eat.” Mahendroo would respond, “But you had a fight with me” and Sharad Joshi would say “Haan toh? Jhagda kiya hai, koi rishta thode na toda hai! (We have fought but our relationship hasn’t broken up.)”
Revisiting his memories about Sharad Joshi with a broad smile, Aanand adds, “I had first met him in 1978 and it was always energizing to meet him because in spite of the fact that he was much older, he would always treat me as a friend. I have very fond memories of us going out for music concerts, plays and Jagjit Singh nights. I would read his books and cut and compile his articles from Navbharat Times.”
The writer, who was the favorite of many like Mr. Mahendroo, had his own favorites. In English he loved reading Mark Twain and PG Wodehouse while Babu Devki Nandan Khatri, Nagarjun, Muktibodh, Ismat Chugtai, Vijay Dan Detha and Dushyant Kumar were the Hindi writers whom he admired the most.
Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma and Giani Zail Singh admired his work. He shared an informal companionship with them and they would chat on the phone every month.
Ms. Neha Sharad quips, “When we received a call from the president for the first time, the person holding the line said – Mahamahim (the equivalent of ‘honorable president’ in Hindi) wants to talk to Sharad Joshi. We were amused as kids and thought - who has a name like Mahamahim?”
But Sharad Joshi never put pen to paper to get favours. He was a visionary who never compromised on his principles and served as one of the torchbearers of nationalistic thinking.
Sharad Joshi was awarded the Padma Shri in 1990 from then president Mr. Ramaswamy Venkataraman. The Madhya Pradesh Government has instituted an award in his memory titled, ‘Sharad Joshi Sammaan’, given each year to individuals for outstanding achievement in the field of writing. It includes a cash award of Rs. 51,000 and a citation.
Shrilal Shukla and Harishankar Parsai, two distinguished satirists in Hindi were also lovers of his writing. They instituted an award under his name. Manohar Shyaam Joshi has said about Sharad Joshi, “I used to sit with a pencil while reading Sharad Joshi’s articles aiming to find errors in his writing but even after all these years I have not found a single thing which I could mark out. I have realized I am zero in his comparison.”
A remark by Mr. Kamlesh Pandey further emphasizes Sharad Joshi’s aura, “Had he been born in America, his popularity would not have been less than Mark Twain!”
END OF LIFE
TV did give Sharad Joshi the due recognition and respect but couldn’t allow him to open his wings. The writer who would say “I wish I could do something similar!” after watching Yes Minister, could not fulfill his dream of writing political stories for Indian TV. His helplessness would make him remark, “I am 20 years ahead my times.”
Raman Kumar confides “Sharad Joshi’s impact on my work can be understood from the fact that I have not directed a comedy (show) ever since he left us. I don’t have the courage to do it. Comedy for me means Sharad Joshi.”
And did the film industry made most of him? Not at all. Those who have known Sharad Joshi believe that the Film Industry did not do justice to his talent. Apart from an odd film with Mr. Mahesh Bhatt and a couple of other associations he could hardly make a mark in films. Television benefited more from his talent.
One of the reasons for it was his early demise. There was a long way to be travelled when he left us. He was just getting a hang of things and getting closer to the medium.
Another reason why Sharad Joshi couldn’t foray into the mainstream was his penchant for addressing real issues, which would concern society. Raman Kumar says, “Movies tell stories to the society but not necessarily stories of the society. This can be the reason why Sharad Joshi wasn’t the best-fitting candidate for films.”
Mr. Mahendroo also has a bit similar opinion, “Today the gap between the art cinema and the commercial cinema has got reduced due to multiplexes but in Sharad Joshi’s time, it was vast. And he wrote majorly for films like Godhuli which wasn’t your mainstream cinema. Moreover, in our Film Industry talent is not at a premium, success is. So though Sharad Joshi was at a neat position in the literary circuit, he didn’t get his due from the Film Industry. He could have done much more and I don’t think he got that opportunity. In fact, some of his peers with much lesser talent were more successful.”
On being asked, why we don’t have writers like Sharad Joshi today, Mr. Kamlesh Pandey retorts, “Since market is more important everyone is running a shop. Where does someone like Sharad Joshi fit himself?”
Raman Kumar recalls that there was a thing which would annoy Sharad Joshi. He would complain that Literary Academies followed the custom to acknowledge only serious writers and never gave due respect to satirists. While, according to Sharad Joshi, a satirist is someone who delves deeper in an issue and is much more responsible forwhat he writes.
Sharad Joshi was also approached to write Hum Hain Raahi Pyaar Ke but fate didn’t allow it. Before illness took him away, he had said to Robin Bhatt, “Robin, let me get well and we’ll work again. I had a great time with you.”
But it couldn’t happen and we lost a great writer way too soon. Sharad Joshi died in Mumbai on September 5, 1991 at the age of 60.What he has left behind is a feeling of yearning in our hearts which Mr. Kamlesh Pandey perfectly puts in words, “I miss his presence in these times. I miss him every day when I pick up the paper. No one could take his place neither in Hindi nor in English.” He further adds“I endorse that his articles should be in text books so our children would know what satire is and what the Hindi language stands for.”
Raman Kumar sums up Sharad Joshi’s persona as, “Sorrows in the heart, smile on the face and satire in his pen! (Dil Mein Dard, Chehare Par Hansi, Aur Kalam Mein Vyangya!)”
(Sharad Joshi’s literature is also available at Flipkart and Landmark. His biography can be reached through the link: http://www.sharadjoshi.co.in/ However, the pages at Wikipedia and the Internet Movie Data Base don’t stand accurate on the information they provide about the writer.)
(Courtesy: SWA Archives Written by: Dinkar Sharma)
Sharad Joshi was awarded the SWA Award for exceptional contribution to television writing, on August 4th 2016 - the 2nd day of the 4th Indian Screenwriters Conference (organised by SWA).
WATCH: A special feature on Sharad Joshi (by SWA): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iy5Nw2zPrj0&t=406s