Javed Akhtar needs no introduction. In a career spanning more than half a century, he has been one of the most successful screenwriters and lyricists of the country. In an exclusive interview with RBN, he talks about his journey so far and the present state of filmmaking in India.
Heard that your son Farhan Akhtar is making a biopic on you which he will act and direct
Even I have heard that. I read it in the newspapers. But Farhan hasn’t told me anything about it. I don’t think there’s any truth in what the media said.
But you recently acted in Nandita Das’ Manto
Well, I won’t call it acting. In fact, it wasn’t even a cameo. It was just an appearance.
Why did you never produce or direct any film?
Right now I am writing a script. I have not decided on the cast of the film and have neither selected the director. But it’s a fresh script with no monotonous overtone.
Do you think Vijay, the character perfected by Amitabh Bachchan in several films written by you and Salim Khan, has relevance today?
Many people from various states in India have often asked me to write a script on an angry young man like Vijay. I honestly feel that a character like this is still relevant today, largely because of the intolerance among a certain section of the society. There are also other serious issues like unemployment, and the younger generation is not getting an outlet to vent their anger. Maybe the socio-economic situation of the country has changed, but many of the basic problems have remained the same.
Whom do you want to cast in that role?
Well, among the seniors there are many actors who can play Vijay now, like Amir (Khan) or Akshay (Kumar). Ranveer (Singh) and Farhan can also play the role (laughs).
And the director?
See, films are a passive medium. They are also overrated at times. Not many directors have the guts to show challenging issues in their films or highlight the faults in the society. Nandita (Das) and I made Fire in 1996, long before same-sex relationships began to be discussed in public. There’s nothing wrong in it. But many directors, rather most of them, just touch upon these issues without going deeper and cover their films ornamentally. It’s no use if you can’t properly highlight the issue that you want to speak on.
Has your poetry become more philosophical with time?
In the beginning I used to write about my mother, my childhood and adolescence, my room, and similar things. I wrote mostly about my past. Over the years I began concentrating more on the future and partly on the present and that is reflected in the poetry I write these days. The past no longer interests me.