Birthday tribute to Javed Akhtar


While awardwinning lyricist Javed Akhtar’s 60th birthday was celebrated with great fanfare by his clan — the Akhtars and the Azmis — a quieter tribute came in the form of a book on his lyrical journey. Nasreen Munni Kabeer, whose films and writings on Guru Dutt, Lata Mangeshkar and more recently Shah Rukh Khan have been hugely lauded, released “Talking Songs” on Monday evening. “The book goes through the language of songs and the pressures put on lyrics that forced a change in the pattern of film songs,” says Javed.

“It collects my experiences as a lyricist. I also discuss the masters’ lyric writing and why they wrote what they did, for instance, Sahir Ludhianvi’s use of nature. I think it’s a good effort and both Nasreen and I have worked hard on it.” Javed gets nostalgic when talking about the current state of Hindi film music. “How I miss those masters! Today only Lata Mangeshkar remains. In my song ‘Yeh kahan aa gaye hum’ from ‘Silsila’, when she sings the word ‘mulaayam’

the whole environment turns soft, supple and sentimental,” said Javed. “There is no other singer who can say the word like she can. No singer in this universe can intone words the way she can. “Even if you don’t know the meaning of a word, you will know by her expression.

That’s what a lyricist craves for.” But Javed is hopeful about the future of film music. “I’m not pessimistic about the future. I feel things are changing. “If you listen to the film songs between 1985 and 1995 they were in extremely bad taste. I’d say things are comparatively better now. “Gradually people feel the need for an improvement in lyrics and melodies. There’s a resistance to mediocrity. It may take another five-six years. But we’re moving towards a renaissance,” he said. Javed, who had a clutch of outstanding songs in 2004 including those from “Swades”, “Main Hoon Na”, “Lakshya” and “Kisna”, is very sure about what he wants to do next. “There aren’t too many filmmakers and composers I’m comfortable with. I will continue to do what I have done. No bad language, no grammatically incorrect metres for me. I feel poets can take liberties but within the given grammatical structures,” he says.