Sambhaji Nagar, Maharashtra
'Over time, our nation witnessed dynasties and changes. Despite Aurangzeb's 51-year rule, it remained Hindustan. Sadly, Ganga-Yamuna got polluted, yet the hidden Saraswati stream flows persistently everywhere. Just like the perpetual Saraswati, Indian culture stands as the eternal soul of our country, immortal and unchanged,' views expressed by Lyrist Javed Akhtar.
Javed Akhtar was speaking at the ongoing 9th Ajanta-Ellora International Film Festival, which concludes on Sunday. He received the most prestigious award of the festival Padmpani Lifetime Achievement Award for his invaluable contribution to Indian cinema.
Akhtar spoke passionately about various aspects of society, film, and Indian culture.
He highlighted the plight of women, "After years of exploiting a woman, when you call her a goddess, say that you respect her, you give her divinity. But not treating her like a human being.” He took the stand that her rights were being violated.
He criticized the skewed development model of the country, questioning how giving 5 kg of grain to 80 crore people could be considered progress without a proper distribution system. He linked this growing imbalance to rising anger, hatred, and frustration within the country.
Javed Akhtar speaking with the audiences at the film Festival
Turning to patriotism, Akhtar addressed the increasing nationalism and cautioned against misplaced pride. He asserted, “There is a lot of confusion in the country. We were united in the freedom struggle. Gradually we turned to ourselves and began to think for ourselves only. The conflict is now less than before but the narcissist attitude is growing.”
“There should also be a limit to how much you live for yourself. Recently, patriotism has also been exalted. 50 years ago, were there no patriots carrying sticks on their bodies? they were also patriots.” Here, He questioned why there is a need for exaggerated displays of patriotism.
Expressing concern about the current state of cinema, ‘despite leaving the standard of the cinema of the intervening period, the heroes of that time were working, struggling. Today's heroes have nothing to do. They set foot directly on the streets of Switzerland.’
‘In today's plot, social issues are kept aside and emphasis is placed on personal problems. Now rich people make movies for rich people. The struggle that was seen in the movie ‘Do Bigha Zameen’ will not be expressed in today's cinema. Hindi cinema is moving away from social issues while showing senseless violence.’ He expressed concern.
On a personal note, Akhtar expressed regret ‘Why I have not visited Verul (Ellora) Caves in all these years?’ He added that these caves were not made by anyone for any payment but stubbornly and consciously. Even if we accept one-thousandth of this honesty, the country will become heaven.’
Finally, Akhtar addressed the importance of language, emphasizing, ‘language is the medium of communication and today we have distanced ourselves from the mother tongue. Today because of language concerns we are not able to communicate. English language must be learned but without neglecting mother tongue.’
'Delhi Police has urged the alteration of 150 words deemed incomprehensible to the public. However, it's essential to recognize that merely removing words doesn't facilitate language comprehension. Conversely, the Oxford dictionary continues to incorporate new vocabulary.' Akhtar said.