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, then moved to Mumbai in 1964, where he worked as a scriptwriter. In the 1980s he focused on writing lyrics for films. He has written lyrics for over 70 films, for which he has received several National Film Awards. In 2001 he received 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 married Honey Irani, with whom he had two children, Farhan and Zoya Akhtar, both film directors and actors. After divorcing, Akhtar married Shabana Azmi, the daughter of Urdu poet Kaifi 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 the 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,” he said in a 2005 speech at the India Today Conclave.

Freedom From Religion Foundation