A student’s life nowadays is just sitting behind an interface all day, listening to robotic voices and trying to figure out the internet connectivity. However, we all need something to break free from the loop of these monotonous afternoons. On 30th July 2020, the students from all campuses of Symbiosis enjoyed a virtual lecture by the award-winning and renowned poet, lyricist, screenwriter, and activist Mr. Javed Akhtar. The Symbiosis Golden Jubilee lecture series kickstarted with a magical combination of poetry, music, cinema, and society.
Javed Akhtar, who is also called Jadoo, is known for his wisdom and words. He belongs to a family lineage that can be traced back to seven generations of writers. He is a recipient of the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Sahitya Akademi Award, and many other national awards. Moreover, he is the only Indian to have been nominated for the Richard Dawkins Award in 2020. He has also been awarded an honorary D. Litt degree by Symbiosis. He has been a key figure in the industry and has inspired many with his profound teachings.
Dr. Ruchi Jaggi, Director of SIMC, commenced the session and welcomed the panel. Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar, Pro-Chancellor of SIU, welcomed the students and talked about how the Symbiosis Golden Jubilee Lectures will help the students build impressions and personalities. Further, the students were addressed by Dr. S.B Mujumdar, Chancellor of SIU. “The pandemic is both, a destroyer and a teacher. It has taken a toll on many lives but has also taught us the importance of keeping our Mother Earth clean and safe” he opines.
Mr. Akhtar gave us a clear insight into the industry, by explaining the influence of society in every aspect of cinema and vice versa. He believes that Cinema is just multiple realities stitched and edited together. Hence, we all are born storytellers. He discussed the trajectory of Indian Cinema heroes and how they evolved with the moralities and aspirations of the society. “From being Devdas and torturing oneself due to helplessness, to being the Angry Young Man and rebelling against the social system, the society has always had an upper hand in Cinema” he adds on. Throughout the lecture, he shared many personal experiences and pieces of advice. He remains of the opinion that, in the present times, the purpose of getting educated is more focused on economic prosperity than being a more aware and resolved person. “Always do something that interests you and do it with all your heart. Your security is in your quality of work” he says.
On being asked about the evolution of music, he believes that our generation has gained tempo at the cost of depth. The lyrics maestro has written the lyrics for Silsila decades ago and now wrote the lyrics for Gully Boy. “Today, we prefer percussions over human voice,” he says. For him, being a great lyricist doesn’t necessarily have any connection with being a great poet. One just needs a good hand over the vocabulary and a great understanding of the plot. Talking about the value of languages like Urdu and Hindi, he believes that there is no such ‘pure’ language. The major aesthetic value and essence remain in its impurity. Language is like a vast sea for him – never-ending.
The panel was then open for questions from students. Students from different institutes like SIBM, SICSR, SIMC, etc. steered the conversation towards Over the Top platforms and duration of films. He strongly believes that OTT platforms are flourishing and some shows are exceptionally well, like Paatal Lok and Delhi Crime. Answering the question about attention span, he commented, “The attention span has shrunk because the temp of life has increased, but that is understandable.” The students of SCMC were inspired by the different perspectives and outlooks of Mr. Akhtar. “I loved how he explained the importance of books. His journey as a whole, inspires me to work harder and to be fearless in my approach” says Abhishek Anand of Batch 2022.
Mr. Akhtar sent out motivation and praised the efforts of students for remaining patient during such testing times. “There are good and bad times, but this too shall pass. I wish for you all to go back to the campus soon” he says. Dr. Rajani Gupte, the vice-chancellor of SIU, concluded the session by presenting her gratitude and vote of thanks. In toto, the session was very enriching and informative. The physical environment of the auditorium was compensated with the magical aura created by his words and wisdom.