A gift from Bollywood Writer Father: Ali Sayed

By Indranil Halder

Sydney summer afternoon, just got better. I meet Ali Sayed for lunch at Goodfield Eatery, Lindfield. He drove from Killara to talk about his father’s scripts for Bollywood blockbusters and memories of Mumbai days.

Who is Ali Sayed?

Ali Sayed is born in Mumbai, India. Had worked for Global Financial Services in India. Occupation is IT consultant. Lives in Sydney with his family. Loves writing scripts and produces short films. Had already created six short films in Land DownUnder. His short film, Blame The Ovens was screened in Made In The West Film Festival, Sydney.

Memories of Mumbai Days:

At Goodfield Eatry, Ali talked about his father Sayed Sultan. An extraordinarily talented man who had written scripts for Mr Natwarlal (Amitabh Bachchan) and many other Bollywood Blockbusters such as Ankush (Nana Patekar), Nasseb (Govinda) and Do Aur Do Panch(Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan). In 2021, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan posted an Instagram photo of himself in the sets of Mr Natwarlal (1979) sharing his amazing journey down Bollywood memory lane.

At the cafe, as our lunch arrived with avocado, chips and peanut butter thick shake, it was Ali’s stories involving his memories of his father  that fascinated me. In his early life, Sayed Sultan was a professor. His colleague was Bollywood actor Kader Khan at the College of Engineering, Mumbai, India. Both loved and enjoyed writing. So when they got a chance, both left their jobs as professors and moved to Bollywood film industry as creative writers.

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Sayed Sultan lived in Juhu( home to many Indian actors, directors and people related to Bollywood film industry) and raised his family. Just like a master script writer who gave Bollywood audiences in Asia, Africa and USA memories to cherish for life time, Sayed Sultan gave his family most memorable moments too.

In Sayed Sultan’s family, Ali was the youngest member. He was raised by his dotting father, mother and three sisters. He loved visiting Tiwari Brothers Mithaiwala, for sweets made with desi ghee and his enjoyed his father’s home made paratha. In 1998, when he was a teenager, all he wanted to become was a script writer like his father. He even translated some of his father’s scripts from Urdu to Hindi for popularity and better understanding. He loved them all.

In 2000, when Bollywood blockbuster Lagaan was released, like any movie enthusiastic Indian teenagers, Ali wanted to see the movie on the release day. But no tickets were available. His father accompanied him to multiple cinemas, Movie Star( Goregaon ), Fame Adlabs ( Andari  West) and finally to Chandan Theatre (Juhu). Ali was over the moon, when he got two tickets to see the movie. A cherished memory of a life time. Once, Ali remembered accompanying his father Sayed Sultan to the film set of Udhar Ki Zindagi in Mahableshwar Hill Station, Maharashtra. In the film set, Ali played with film actors – Kajol,Jitendra & Mousimi but he enjoyed observing his father narrating the scenes from scripts to prepare the actors for their roles in-front of the cameras. Ali with his father, kept meeting actors such as Saif Ali Khan in the film set of Keemat , Mitun Chakravorty in Sikandar Sadak Ka film set and many more. Those moments connected Ali on a deeper level to the massive Bollywood film industry and its personals who are super busy in catering for billions of film lovers across the globe.

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Making it In The West:

In 2010, Ali went to London to work for Global Financial Service as IT consultant, right after finishing his degree. Upon his return he attempted to make a film out of his dad’s unpublished scripts but time did not permit him. He left for Japan. And finally in 2016, settled in Sydney with his own family.

Since then, he revived his love for film making and had produced six short films. And his favourite remains, Lost In Transit which was nominated for a short film competition , Best from India(US based award). The film highlighted beauty of Sydney from local train journey between Sydney suburb of Chatswood to CBD. In the short film, like his father, he gave his viewers a social message , raised questions and provided subject matter for critics. He has also fallen in love with Australian film industry and cannot stop praising the film Lion for connecting India and Australia with a strong social message that celebrates humanity at its best.

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Recently, Ali directed the short film Blame The Ovens celebrating equality and inclusivity with producers Sunny Shah and Aniket Deshkar and written by Jayant Sharma. Premiered at the Made In The West 2022 Film Festival, Liverpool, Sydney. Ali says,” Knowingly or unknowingly, my father and his works and Bollywood connections have shaped me for who I am today.” The film had been nominated for Best Director, Best Lead Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Sound Design and Best Original Score. It is fascinating to learn how an extraordinary film writer father is still shaping the mind of Ali as a talented Australian in the multicultural film industry. A perfect gift from a father to a son. I feel, Ali is the ambassador who can create magic in bringing the Australian and Indian film industry closer together. It will be great to see a film by Ali Sayed to celebrate genius writer Sayed Sultan and his Bollywood stories.