It is believed that Mumbai is one of the top ten cities in the world, where a person has to pay a price even for fresh air. Coming out of a very poor family in living in such a city, Shahzad Ahmed made his place as a writer and achieved success in the film industries.
Today let us know the secret of his lifestyle, his philosophy and secret behind his success, in his own words.
Q: In a city like Mumbai, where everything depends on just money. How did you survive with a handful amount?
Ans: There was a man next to my village, Tirri Yadav, who had a buffalo pedestal in Mumbai and he owned a milk business. My mother used to clean his clothes. My mother once asked him “Our son wants to go to Bombay… It would have been a favor if you can support him to stay here.” Tirri Yadav agreed to give us shelter for free. I came to Mumbai from home and started living in Tirri Yadav’s stable.
There was a small room in which buffaloes were kept. During night time, rats used to fight in, to eat the fodder. Sometimes rats used to come on top of me. If the buffalo used to urinate, then the splatter used to come near the bed. In this way, I had spent almost three months. Suddenly, one day I bumped into one of my classmate Kranti at Goregaon station. Then, I went to his room, there were three other classmates. I then got the support of my friends. I left Tirri Yadav’s tabela and shifted with my friends.
Q: Didn’t you ran out of money during this time?
Ans: Absolutely, but my friends contribute a lot to my life. The money was almost exhausted, but I somehow survived by borrowing money from my friends. In this way, four to five months passed away. I was financially very upset. Shailendra Gaur advised me to join direction and also gave a contact to Bhimsen Khurana who was making a tele film. Where I met Varadraj Swami for the first time. Varadraj was the Chief Assistant Director of that project.
Q: You and Varadraj share a very strong bonding. What is the factor, you guys have been working for so long now, have given so many films together.
Ans: Look, we both belong to the same institute. As far as the question is concerned, the reason for bonding is our trust in each other and positive attitude. The second important thing is that we live like a family. The way a person in the family makes a mistake and we make him understand. The bells swell for two hours, then dissolve. We don’t take things on our ego. This is how, we have a relationship.
Thirdly, we are not money minded people. If there is money and one of us needs more money, then that person takes the money, for which there is no account. Lastly, we believe that if we walk together, we will not get tired. There is a lot of strength in unity.
Q: Then you and Varadraj started working together from there?
Ans: No, that project is over. Everyone followed their own path. My relations with Varadraj became very good. Again I started looking for work. The shortage of money started, but I did not give up. I kept trying and got a job as an assistant director in Balaji Telefilms and I started working with all my heart.I deposited some money and firstly I redeemed the land which my father had mortgaged to deposite the fees of my institute.
Which, I have mentioned many a times. I kept doing serials for three to four years. I started working as an assistant and moved up to an associate director.
Q: How did you moved from daily soaps to cinema?
SA: Actually, I always wanted to do films, I came to do films. During the time, when I use to work in television industry, I left work many a times to work in films, but in a few days, I would always ran out of my money and was forced to join the daily soaps. Then, I understood it won’t work this way. I called my younger brother Kabir and got him to join the direction. He became my emergency financial support system.
I started trying for films. I did not get work in films but I got work in advertisements. I worked there for almost two years, with many directors. From where I got a chance to know about national and international directors and their films. The good thing there was that time was available. I used to go to film festivals. There was a chance to see the films of international directors, and books related to movies and writing were available.
Q: You were trying for direction, then what made you inclined towards writing?
Ans: Actually at one point my mind got fed up with advertising and I could not find any way to go towards films. A Kaizad was Gustad’s assistant, he advised me to learn writing, if you learn writing, then the direction will not be too difficult. From here I got inclined towards writing. I started trying to write something. I used to download movie scripts. Used to read them, then used to watch movies and try to understand how it would have been written. Used to read screenplay books.
My six seven years have passed but nothing valuable happened. In the meantime, one day after about six to seven years, Varadraj’s call came. “Where are you?” Actually Varadraj had left Mumbai and went to his house. Since then we had lost their connection. We then met, talked about life and shared our own stories.
From these things it was clear that both of us were inclined towards writing. Varadraj spoke to me. “Let’s write together” I was looking for a friend like you. From there the writing journey started.