Javed Akhtar

On this date in 1945, Javed Akhtar (né Jadoo Akhtar) was born in Gwalior, India. His father was an Urdu poet and Bollywood songwriter, and his mother was a teacher and writer. Akhtar earned a bachelor’s degree from Saifia College in Bhopal, India. He moved to Mumbai in 1964, where he worked as a scriptwriter. In the 1980s he focused on writing lyrics for films. He has since written lyrics for over 70 films. Akhtar won the Silver Lotus Award for Best Lyrics from the National Film Awards in India three times, for “Godmother” (1999), “Refugee” (2000) and “Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India” (2001). He won International Film Academy of India awards for best lyrics for “Refugee” (2000), “Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India” (2001), “Kal Ho Naa Ho” (2003), “Swades” (2004) and “Om Shanti Om” (2007). In 2001, he was awarded the National Integration Award from the All-India Anti-Terrorist Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Asian Academy of Film and Television. Akhtar has two children with his first wife. He is married to actress Shabana Azmi. Muslims “have to improve their lot by lending strength to secular forces and by becoming more and more secular themselves,” he said in an interview with Lalita Panicker (Times of India, “Questions and Answers,” March 28, 2002). “Arms, drugs and spirituality – these are the three big businesses in the world. . . . spirituality nowadays is definitely the tranquilizer of the rich” (speech at India Today Conclave, Feb. 26, 2005).

“I am an atheist, I have no religious beliefs. And obviously I don’t believe in spirituality of some kind.”

—Javed Akhtar in a speech at India Today Conclave called “Spirituality: Halo or Hoax?” Feb. 26, 2005

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch; Photo by By Fotokannan at Malayalam Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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