Remembering Sharad Joshi and the art of writing

He wrote ‘Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi’, which paved the way for sitcoms.

Do film writers gets more credit than their television counterparts?

Delegates in attendance at the Indian Screenwriters Conference (August 3-4) in Mumbai were familiar with the works of such names as Juhi Chaturvedi (Vicky Donor, Piku), Sudip Sharma (NH10, Udta Punjab) and Tushar Hiranandani (Masti, Dishoom) during a panel discussion on changing gender equations in movies, but most of them drew a blank when Farhan Salaruddin, who has written the television serial Dehleez, asked if anybody knew about the contributions of television writers.

Have TV writers always been invisible? Was there a golden period when literary heavyweights drove small-screen narratives? In the 1980s, when the state-owned television channel Doordarshan began sponsoring television shows, they launched the professional careers of several well-known writers. The success of television serial Hum Log (1982) turned Hindi writer Manohar Shyam Joshi into a celebrity and earned him the epithet of the father of Indian soap operas.

Around the same time, another writer was making history. Sharad Joshi’s work has deeply influenced comedy shows. The late Hindi poet and satirist was posthumously honoured for his contributions to television and film writing at the ISC event.

Born in Ujjain on May 21, 1931, Joshi wrote satirical plays (Ek Tha Gadha Urf Aladat Khan, Andhon Ka Haathi), and was a regular contributor to the newspapers Nav Bharat Times and Nayi Duniya. In the ’70s, he wrote dialogue for such films as Kshitij (1974), Chhoti Si Baat (1975), and Godhuli (1977).

Joshi became a household name in 1984 with Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi , which centred on the lives of a married couple Ranjit (Shafi Inamdar) and Renu Sharma (Swaroop Sampat). Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi was the first sitcom of its kind. It was co-directed by Kundan Shah and Manjul Sinha, and had a viewership rivalling film releases. Shah was initially reluctant to hire Joshi to write the show because his fame as a literary figure preceded him. However, Shah dropped his guard after meeting Joshi, the filmmaker writes in the ISC brochure.

The story goes that Joshi was taking longer than usual to write an episode. A peeved Shah told him off after Joshi missed the deadline. Joshi had written twice the length of the episode. In his defence, Joshi said, “I tried to follow the structure but got carried away by my pen and followed it.” Shah learnt one important lesson from that incident: Joshi enjoyed the organic process of writing more than following a structure.

Apart from writing, Joshi was also known for his stage performances. Screenwriter and general secretary of the Film Writers Association, Kamlesh Pandey, said, “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 [poetry conference] 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!”

Sharad Joshi on stage.

As Joshi’s television output grew through the shows Devi Ji, Haso Haso, Yeh Duniya Hai Gazab Ki, Guldasta, Daane Anaar Ke, his film work dwindled. Among his better-known films from the 1990s are the romcom Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahin (1991) and Udaan (1997), which was released after his death on September 5, 1991. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1990.

In 2009, the television serial Lapataganj – Sharad Joshi Ki Kahaniyon Ka Pata was based on his novel by the same name. The comedy Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge? (2010) was based on Joshi’s essay Tum Kab Jaoge, Atithi from the book Yatha Sambhav.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

When did we start parenting our parents?

As our parents grow older, our ‘adulting’ skills are tested like never before.

From answering every homework question to killing every monster under the bed, from soothing every wound with care to crushing anxiety by just the sound of their voice - parents understandably seemed like invincible, know-it-all superheroes all our childhood. It’s no wonder then that reality hits all of a sudden, the first time a parent falls and suffers a slip disc, or wears a thick pair of spectacles to read a restaurant menu - our parents are growing old, and older. It’s a slow process as our parents turn from superheroes to...human.

And just as slow to evolve are the dynamics of our relationship with them. Once upon a time, a peck on the cheek was a frequent ritual. As were handmade birthday cards every year from the artistically inclined, or declaring parents as ‘My Hero’ in school essays. Every parent-child duo could boast of an affectionate ritual - movie nights, cooking Sundays, reading favourite books together etc. The changed dynamic is indeed the most visible in the way we express our affection.

The affection is now expressed in more mature, more subtle ways - ways that mimics that of our own parents’ a lot. When did we start parenting our parents? Was it the first time we offered to foot the electricity bill, or drove them to the doctor, or dragged them along on a much-needed morning walk? Little did we know those innocent acts were but a start of a gradual role reversal.

In adulthood, children’s affection for their parents takes on a sense of responsibility. It includes everything from teaching them how to use smartphones effectively and contributing to family finances to tracking doctor’s appointments and ensuring medicine compliance. Worry and concern, though evidence of love, tend to largely replace old-fashioned patterns of affection between parents and children as the latter grow up.

It’s something that can be easily rectified, though. Start at the simplest - the old-fashioned peck on the cheek. When was the last time you gave your mom or dad a peck on the cheek like a spontaneous five-year-old - for no reason at all? Young parents can take their own children’s behaviour available as inspiration.

As young parents come to understand the responsibilities associated with caring for their parents, they also come to realise that they wouldn’t want their children to go through the same challenges. Creating a safe and secure environment for your family can help you strike a balance between the loving child in you and the caring, responsible adult that you are. A good life insurance plan can help families deal with unforeseen health crises by providing protection against financial loss. Having assurance of a measure of financial security for family can help ease financial tensions considerably, leaving you to focus on being a caring, affectionate child. Moreover,you can eliminate some of the worry for your children when they grow up – as the video below shows.


To learn more about life insurance plans available for your family, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.