The line “lamha lamha kisi jaadu ka fasana hoga”, written by Jan Nisar Akhtar, is how Javed Akhtar
was originally named Jaadu. True to his name, his words hold magic, and his delivery leaves you in
awe. On the 18 th of October, we at Symbiosis Literature Festival had the opportunity to listen to
the latest recipient of “The Richard Dawkins Award” speak about “Power of Words: Impact of
Cinema” in conversation with Mr. Sameer Satija, our Alumni. The session was presided over by Dr.
S B Majumdar (Chancellor, SIU), Dr. Rajani Gupte (Vice Chancellor, SIU), Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar (Pro
Chancellor, SIU) and Dr. Ruchi Jaghi.
The conversation began with the discussion about how far the Indian cinema has come from our very first talkie “Alamara”, to which Mr. Akhtar notes how earlier the language was theatrical and heavy, but as time has passes it has become short and real, he also points out how the writers of today have a certain awareness and maturity, giving the example of the movie Article 15.
On being asked about the popular “angry young man” from the movie Zanjeer, he reminisces how he and his co-writer Salim Khan had no idea of the impact that the character would have. He says “we were fortunate that our mindset was in sync with the society, we weren’t looking at the society because that would have been patronizing, we were a part of the society, we were breathing the same air”, and this is how in the 70’s the discontent of injustice amongst the population, was portrayed through an iconic character.
Akhtar Sahab who is an atheist and has also raised both his kids the same way, very wittily muses on how before appointing a driver we ask several questions; however, god was never questioned before his appointment. As the conversation steered towards language, a statement that stood out was, “languages don’t belong to a religion, and a religion cannot make a nation”. Being one of the most iconic lyricists of the world, he confidently states that lyrics too are a form of literature and one, the future generations shall study the works of icons like Mr. Anand Bakshi. He says, “We in our country are not confident to accept what we like”.
While answering student’s questions about creative blocks to the importance of having opinions, he left us with a strong statement- “if you are neutral, you are on the side of the oppressor, it is your DUTY to have an opinion”. The hour flew by listening to his wise words and left us wanting more. We at Symbiosis are fortunate to have had the opportunity to engage in conversation with Javed “Jadoo” Akhtar himself.