A Poet And A Philosopher

Updated: Oct 20 2002, 05:30am hrs
It is hard not to like Javed Akhtar. He has a way with people. A cross-section of people, ranging from Prof. Amartya Sen, who released his book, Quiver (a translation of Tarquash in Urdu), to David Mathews, who translated his book, count themselves among his friends, besides of course the common man, who is his most ardent admirer.

Poetry flows easily for Mr Akhtar and he defines it as nothing but ones own thoughts. He says, It is first hand and only first hand poetry is first class. He elaborates this thought further, You see, at any given time, all kinds of poetry are written, some in-depth and some shallow. It all depends on what you are looking for, and you will find it.

He says, Personally, I believe that by following a trend with reasonable talent, you can write poetry that is acceptable. What is difficult to write, however, is your own poetry.

But at this stage in life, the man has come full circle, for he is back to script writing. But this time, the scripts are different. And, he plans to carry on with writing with song lyrics, too. Mr Akhtar says, Other than talking in first person, I like to do many things, including participating in social issues and doing advertisements.

In the last six months, he has finished two scripts, Lakshya and Armaan. Lakshya is being directed by his son, Farhan Akhtar, whose Dil Chahta Hai swept urban audiences last year. Hes sharing the credit for the second one with Honey Irani, his ex-wife.

He says, Over the years, Honey and I have become good friends, and it was a pleasure working with her.

He is writing another script for Shah Rukh Khan, but the name of the film is not finalised as yet, he says.

Son Farhan has done him proud and he says, Let me tell you in all honesty, for me, it is important whether a person has talent or not. My major source of happiness with regard to my son is that he is actually good at his work. He has an understanding of the subject he is dealing with and calibre. Temporary success or failure does not deter or encourage me. It is the sum total that is important.

Mr Akhtar was in Delhi recently for the inauguration of the 33rd International Film Festival, but he did not seem very optimistic about film festivals in general. He says, The success of film festivals is measured by the stars who come in and not the directors, technicians and others supporting staff involved in the making of a film. Film festivals give a window to cinema, but other centres like Iran are emerging as the hub of cinema, he says dismissively.

Mr Akhtar says, Earlier, women were getting important and clear-cut roles when their morality was clear; now there is a confusion as the new woman is emerging. They are now trying to grapple with aspiration and morality.

What about Shabana Azmi, his wife, who was in New York for a retrospective of her films at a well-known film festival just then He is silent for a bit and then says she is his best friend. He says, She is a wholesome person, she is a well-rounded personality.

Shabana, he says expansively, is extremely compassionate and considerate. He clarifies that it is the inner personality and not the achievements of a person that matter most to him.

Mr Akhtar professes to have a philosophy of life: Human society is a club. The moment you are born, you get life membership and this club offers you all kinds of facilities. You are also expected to contribute something to this club before leaving, and all my activities are guided by this very clear idea of life.