Jaipur: In an industry dominated by item numbers, lyricist and script writer Javed Akhtar refuses to be a part of the herd. The renowned lyricist was at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2015 to launch his book on poetry which has been translated by Ali Hussain Mir.
When asked whether creative liberty is hampered due commercial demands, Akhtar pointed out, "There have always been two kinds of people who have written. One who have kept the market and demand in mind the other who have just written stuff based on their interest. There have always been writers who have written to impress the Maharajas, or the people at large. That is also in a way commercialisation. So it has always been there."
Akhtar, though, is quick to point it out that in India writing is not always economically a viable option. "Either he does something else and writes in his free time or gets engaged in commercial writing. So, people like me have to do both kinds. On one side we do commissioned work, charge accordingly and also write side by side what pleases us. But yes, even while doing commissioned work there are certain rules that we abide by. No amount of money can me make write a vulgar song. That I won't do," says the veteran lyricist.
The poet also feels that the youth are unaware of the literature because of lack of awareness. "I know an interior designer in Mumbai who buys coffee-table books to match the curtains of a living room. Parents have to teach their children the importance of books, of fiction and poetry. Only then can there be richer lyrics in today's films."
"My son and daughter read, they in fact read more than me, I have friends whose children are book lovers, because they have seen their parents read, they have seen books in their house," explained Akhtar.
Akhtar was quick to add that it is heartening to see such young participants at the festival. "Because the festival is free, we have mostly youngsters in attendance which is a great thing. Had it been a paid one, I am sure some 70 year olds like me would be occupying the front row," joked Akhtar.
Akhtar is also of the opinion that the middle-class in any society nurtures literature, art culture. In India, now the middle-class sends their children to English medium schools because that is the need of the hour and hence the usage of the language has increased. "I am not against English language. To work in corporates, proficiency in English language is need. But what is tragic is that it is happening at the cost of their own mother tongue."