The Urdu-poet and famous film lyricist Javed Akthar was born 1945 and belongs to a family whose creative lineage can be traced back to seven generations. Javed Akhtar started writing poetries in 1980 after the death of his father. His first collection entitled "Tarkash" has had a very successful release in 1995. At the Frankfurt Bookfair he read some of this poetries and spoke with BNA-Germany; not only about his poetry but also about his film lyrics.
BNA-Germany: At first, welcome to Germany and to the Book Fair. Is it the first time that you are here at the Book Fair?
Javed Akhtar: Yes, It’s the first time I come to this city.
BNA-Germany: Was it a great surprise that you were invited to come here?
Javed Akhtar: Yes it was an honour as everybody knows the Book Fair in Frankfurt. That is the biggest Book Fair in the world. And I met wonderful people here, so it’s a very fruitful visit.
BNA-Germany: At first you begun as a script writer, then you were song writer for Bollywood films and after all you begun to write poems?
Javed Akhtar: No I started to write my own poetry in 1978, but it was not published. There were some people who knew about my writing and they heard my poems. And one of them was Mr Yash Chopra, the famous producer and director. And one day he came to me and said that he wants me to write songs for his film.
BNA-Germany: Which one?
Javed Akhtar: Silsila. And I was quit surprised because I was not inclined to do that or that somebody would ask me to write film songs. I don’t know why. But the he insisted. I was not interested. But he made me some offers. And then when I wrote some songs and I enjoyed it. So that’s the story how my career as song writer started.
BNA-Germany: But there is a difference between Yash Chopra’s kind of films and your kind of poetry. On the one side there are love stories and on the other side there are your very serious and melancholic poems. How could you handle it?
Javed Akhtar: Oh that’s not so unusual. When I’m commissioned as a writer, I’m writing for a particularly film which has a particular story and a particular situation and I have to keep that in my mind. And I have to identify with that romantic situation and where the songs required in the pictures. So I think from this point of view. But when I’m writing my own poetry, which is not a commission work, I only write what I feel very stronly from the depth of my heart, this is my conviction. But that doesn’t mean that for a commission job I don’t feel it. To paint a good calendar or a good poster you better be a good painter. Otherwise if you not be, you won’t be make a good poster or calendar. And there are good calendars and bad calendars. The same way there are good commission lyrics and bad commission lyrics. So if you are writing commission lyrics also write them well.
BNA-Germany: Which way you have gone from script writing, over song writing to publishing poems?
Javed Akhtar: Well I came to the film industry when I was 19, after my graduation. I wrote my first film when I was 20. From the age of 20 to the age of 35 I was script writer. But in the age of 36 I was more interested in lyric writing. And for 34 years I write lyrics and poems.
BNA-Germany: Do you have to know the story, the script and the actors for a film, before you can write the song lyrics?
Javed Akhtar: Only the story. What will be the story line and then we need the film situation when they need the song. So I write the song according to the situation; what the character can think in this special situation.
BNA-Germany: And how easy is it for you to get the situation?
Javed Akhtar: Really easy.
BNA-Germany: Your family has great poets for seven generations. Your father was also a famous poet. You started to write poems two years after his death. Do you think that your son Farhan Akhtar will be also a poet and step into your shoes?
Javed Akhtar: No he doesn’t want to step into my shoes. He has his own shoes and is very happy with them. But he writes poems, but only in english. I don’t emulate my father and my father did not emulate his father. But almost everyone of them was a poet. But I don’t imitate my father and my son doesn’t imitate me.
BNA-Germany: Which one of your film lyrics is the best one from your point of view and are you proud of your work?
Javed Akhtar: Well I know that I’m good. But what I have done is done. I never think about it anymore. I’m always looking for doing something in future instead of thinking ‘wow these lyrics were good’. It is finished and I have done my job.
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