In this incredible talk peppered with jewels of Urdu poetry, Javed Akhtar explains the uncommon history and evolution of this Indian language. The poet explains how Urdu was born as the tongue of the common man, how it acquired its sophistication and how it fell victim, as so many million citizens did, of the two-nation theory and the Partition. Javed Akhtar’s talk was both radiant with beauty and a wistfulness for the Subcontinent’s once undivided glory.
As the country’s pre-eminent poet, lyricist and screenwriter, Javed Akhtar’s stature casts a tall shadow on the fields of Indian culture and literature. For his lifetime’s work in Hindi film, Urdu literature and social activism, he is the recipient of the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shri, besides five National Awards and over a dozen Filmfare Awards. Son of the well-known Urdu poet and film-lyricist Jan Nisar Akhtar and teacher and writer Safia Akhtar, Javed Akhtar belongs to a family lineage that can be traced back to seven generations of writers. The highly respected Urdu poet, Majaz was his mother’s brother and the work of Muzter Khairabadi, his grandfather, is looked upon as a milestone in Urdu poetry. In his role as Member of Parliament, Javed Akhtar championed the passing of the Copyright Amendment bill that restores dignity to lyrics and music composers and gives them what is rightfully theirs in terms of royalty. As a social commentator active on the field as well as online, he is admired for his secular, liberal and progressive values.