A poets new act

Updated: Jan 21 2007, 05:43am hrs
Film lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar, is all set to display his acting skills as he debuts on stage with Kaifi Aur Main, a self-authored play that throws light on the life of Kaifi and Shaukat Azmi. What pushes Akhtar, who turned 62 last week, is the never-ending urge to do and know more he tells Neha Sharma in an interview. Excerpts:

What is the secret behind your youthfulness

I believe that life is very interesting and full of surprise packages. One should continuously make an attempt to explore its varied facets. So what keeps me going is the desire to know more. To think that one has known all about it is rather foolish.

How did Bollywood happen to you

Bollywood always interested me but I never thought I would end up being a lyricist. I wanted to assist my favourite director Guru Dutt. I still hold that he had an unparalleled sense of direction. I wrote my first song for Yash Chopra, Dekha ek khwab to yeh silsilay huye, which also happens to be one of my favourites. And the rest is history.

So when did you realise that Shabanaji was your soulmate

I cannot pinpoint a day or time as it was not love at first sightki unka rumal gira, humney utha kar diya aur ankho ankho mei pyar ho gaya. It happened gradually, as our families had a great bonding and we grew up together. It was only in the 70s that we started meeting more often and finally tied the knot.

What was your favourite song during your courtship days

(Laughs!) It was from Guru Dutts movie Jaal, Yeh raat yeh chandni phir kahan sun ja dil ki dastaan. I think it said it all.

What do you think about todays screenplays

I am really happy about the fact that our industry is finally moving away from stereotypes. One can witness a lot of experimentation in terms of style, language, presentation and above all, themes. Our audience has matured over the years, which is very encouraging for the industry. Graduating from mere drawing room love stories, todays films touch upon important socio-political issues. They also attempt to engage the viewers in a more active fashion by prompting them to think.

What do you think is the reason behind it

I think it has to do with our country and it's culture. India is an amazing land of parallels. Whatever you say about it, the vice versa is equally true. For instance, women empowerment is one reality and a bride-burning for dowry is another.

What do you think about remakes

Remakes may be in vogue today, but they have always been there. What is vital is the amount of value addition done to them. Why a film is being remade is crucial. Once that is justified, even a remake can steal the show.

Your kids, Farhan and Zoya are celebrities in their own right. Are you their guiding spirit

I think both of them are mature enough to handle their projects and I advise them only when they ask for it. Taking what I have or not is their pick, as many seniors can give them professional advice. But I always try to learn from them as they are young, spirited and have so much to offer. They act as bridges and help me stay connected with the present.

Tell us something about your forthcoming projects

I am working on a script and the second collection of my poetry is going to be out soon. But something that I am really looking forward to is a three-volume compilation of my grandfather's poems. I think he was a great poet.