Javed Akhtar
Akhtar in 2012
Nominated Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha
In office
22 March 2010 – 21 March 2016
Personal details
Born (1945-01-17) 17 January 1945 (age 79)
Gwalior, Gwalior State, British India
(present-day Madhya Pradesh, India)
  • (m. 1972; div. 1985)
    ; 2 children
  • (m. 1984)
EducationColvin Taluqdars' College, Lucknow

Javed Akhtar (born 17 January 1945) is an Indian screenwriter, lyricist and poet. Known for his work in Hindi cinema, he has won five National Film Awards,[1] and received the Padma Shri in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2007,[2] two of India's highest civilian honours.

Akhtar came to recognition in the duo Salim–Javed, and earned his breakthrough as a screenwriter with 1973's Zanjeer. He went on to write the films Deewaar and Sholay, both released in 1975; they earned a cult following, and had a significant impact in popular culture. He later earned praise for his work as a lyricist, winning the National Film Award for Best Lyrics five times and the Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist eight times.

Akhtar notably campaigned for the Communist Party of India (CPI) and their candidate in the 2019 Indian general election, and was a member of parliament in Rajya Sabha.[3] For his work, he received the Richard Dawkins Award in 2020.[4][5][6][7]

Early life

Javed Akhtar in Dec 2014

Javed Akhtar was born in 1945 in Gwalior.[8] His father Jan Nisar Akhtar was a Bollywood film songwriter and Urdu poet.[9] His paternal grandfather Muztar Khairabadi was a poet as was his grandfather's elder brother, Bismil Khairabadi, while his great great grandfather, Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, was a religious scholar of Islam who declared the Jihad in 1857 against the English for religious reasons.[10] Javed Akhtar's original name was Jadoo, taken from a line in a poem written by his father: "Lamha, lamha kisi jadoo ka fasana hoga". He was given the official name of Javed since it was the closest to the word jadoo.[11] He spent most of his childhood and was schooled in Lucknow. He graduated from Saifiya College in Bhopal.[12]

Career as scriptwriter

Main article: Salim-Javed

Initially, in the 1970s, there was generally no concept of having the same writer for the screenplay, story and dialogue, nor were the writers given any credits in the titles. Rajesh Khanna is credited with giving Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar their first chance to become screenplay writers by offering them work in Haathi Mere Saathi.[13] Javed Akhtar stated in an interview that one day, he went to Salimsaab and said that Mr. Devar had given him a huge signing amount with which he could complete the payment for his bungalow, Aashirwad. But the film was a remake and the script of the original was far from being satisfactory. "He told us that if we could set right the script, he would make sure we got both money and credit."[14]

Their first big success was the script for Andaz, followed by Adhikar (1971), Haathi Mere Saathi and Seeta Aur Geeta (1972). They also had hits with Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973), Zanjeer (1973), Haath Ki Safai (1974), Deewaar (1975), Sholay (1975), Chacha Bhatija (1977), Don (1978), Trishul (1978), Dostana (1980), Kranti (1981), Zamana (1985) and Mr. India (1987). They have worked together in 24 films including two Kannada films – Premada Kanike and Raja Nanna Raja.

Of the 24 films they wrote, 20 were hits. The scripts they wrote, but which were not successful at box office include Aakhri Dao (1975), Immaan Dharam (1977), Kaala Patthar (1979) and Shaan (1980). Though they split in 1982, due to ego issues, some of the scripts they wrote were made into hit films later, such as Zamana and Mr. India. Salim-Javed, many a time described as "the most successful scriptwriters of all-time",[15] are also noted to be the first scriptwriters in Indian cinema to achieve star status.[16]

Personal life

“There are certain things that I’d like to make clear at the very outset. Don’t get carried away by my name — Javed Akhtar. I am not revealing a secret, I am saying something that I have said many times, in writing or on TV, in public… I’m an atheist, I have no religious beliefs. And I don’t believe in spirituality of some kind".[17]

Akhtar was nominated to the Parliament upper house Rajya Sabha on 16 November 2009.[18] Akhtar was married to Honey Irani, with whom he had two children, Farhan Akhtar, a film actor, producer, director[19] and Zoya Akhtar, a film writer, director and producer.[20] The father-and-son duo have worked together in films such as Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya, Rock On!! and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara with Zoya. Farhan was married to Adhuna Akhtar, a hair stylist.[21] Despite having an Islamic upbringing, Akhtar declared himself to be an "equal opportunity atheist" who is against all faiths,[22][23] and also brought up his children Farhan and Zoya Akhtar as atheists.[24]

Akhtar married Shabana Azmi, the daughter of Urdu poet, Kaifi Azmi and later divorced Irani.[25] Akhtar's uncle, Asrar-ul-Haq "Majaz" was also an Urdu poet. His uncle, Ansar Harvani, was a member of the Indian independence movement and an elected Member of Parliament. Akhtar's aunt, Hamida Salim, was an Indian author, economist and educator as well.[26]

Awards and nominations

Javed was awarded the civilian honour of Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1999, followed by the Padma Bhushan in 2007.[2] In 2013, he received the Sahitya Akademi Award in Urdu, India's second highest literary honour, for his poetry collection Lava.[27] In 2019, he was conferred with an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Letters) by the Jamia Hamdard University.[28] In 2020 he was awarded the Richard Dawkins Award for being a "powerful force for secularism, reason, and human rights, challenging superstition and intolerance through his work in poetry, screenwriting, and political activism".[4][6]

Year Award Category Outcome Work Notes
1996 National Film Awards Best Lyrics Won Saaz
1997 Won Border
1998 Won Godmother
2000 Won Refugee
2001 Won Lagaan
1995 Filmfare Awards Best Lyricist Won "Ek Ladki Ko Dekha" from 1942: A Love Story
1997 Won "Ghar Se Nikalte" from Papa Kehte Hai
1989 Nominated "Ek Do Teen" from Tezaab
1990 Best Dialogue Won Main Azaad Hoon
1998 Best Lyricist Won "Sandese Aate Hai" from Border
1998 Nominated "Chand Taare" from Yes Boss
1999 Nominated "Mere Mehboob Mere Sanam" from Duplicate
1984 Best Story Nominated Betaab
1985 Nominated Mashaal
1986 Nominated Arjun
2001 Best Lyricist Won "Panchchi Nadiyaan" from Refugee
2002 Won "Radha Kaise Naa Jale" from Lagaan
2002 Nominated "Mitwa" from Lagaan [29]
2011 Mirchi Music Awards Album of The Year Nominated Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara [30][31]
Lyricist of The Year Won "Khwabon Ke Parindey" from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Nominated "Senorita" from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
2012 Won "Jee Le Zara" from Talaash [32]
2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Won - [33]
2015 Album of The Year Nominated Dil Dhadakne Do [34]
Lyricist of The Year Nominated "Phir Bhi Yeh Zindagi" from Dil Dhadakne Do


As screenwriter

As Salim-Javed

Year Film Language Director Cast Notes
1971 Andaz Hindi[35] Ramesh Sippy Rajesh Khanna, Hema Malini, Shammi Kapoor, Simi Garewal Written as "Salim-Javed"
Adhikar Hindi S.M. Sagar Ashok Kumar, Nanda, Deb Mukherjee
Haathi Mere Saathi M. A. Thirumugham Rajesh Khanna, Tanuja
1972 Seeta Aur Geeta Ramesh Sippy Hema Malini, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar
1973 Yaadon Ki Baaraat Nasir Hussain Dharmendra, Vijay Arora, Tariq Khan
Zanjeer Prakash Mehra Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri, Pran
1974 Majboor Ravi Tandon Amitabh Bachchan, Parveen Babi, Pran
Haath Ki Safai Prakash Mehra Randhir Kapoor, Vinod Khanna, Hema Malini, Simi Garewal, Ranjeet
1975 Deewaar Yash Chopra Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Parveen Babi, Neetu Singh
Sholay Ramesh Sippy Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Hema Malini, Jaya Bhaduri
Aakhri Dao A. Salaam Jeetendra, Saira Banu, Danny Denzongpa
1976 Premada Kanike Kannada V. Somashekhar Rajkumar, Aarathi
Raja Nanna Raja A. V. Seshagiri Rao
1977 Immaan Dharam Hindi Desh Mukherjee Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Sanjeev Kumar, Rekha
Chacha Bhatija Manmohan Desai Dharmendra, Randhir Kapoor, Hema Malini
1978 Trishul Yash Chopra Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini
Don Chandra Barot Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Pran
1979 Kaala Patthar Yash Chopra Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Rakhee Gulzar, Shatrughan Sinha, Parveen Babi, Neetu Singh
1980 Dostana Raj Khosla Amitabh Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha, Zeenat Aman, Pran (actor), Amrish Puri
Shaan Ramesh Sippy Sunil Dutt, Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Rakhee Gulzar, Kulbhushan Kharbanda
1981 Kranti Manoj Kumar Manoj Kumar, Dilip Kumar, Hema Malini, Shashi Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha, Parveen Babi
1982 Shakti Ramesh Sippy Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Raakhee, Anil Kapoor
1985 Zamana Ramesh Talwar Rajesh Khanna, Rishi Kapoor, Poonam Dhillon, Ranjeeta Kaur
1987 Mr. India Shekhar Kapur Anil Kapoor, Sridevi, Amrish Puri

As Javed Akhtar

Year Film Language Director Cast Notes
1983 Betaab Hindi Rahul Rawail Sunny Deol, Amrita Singh Written as "Javed Akhtar"
1984 Duniya Ramesh Talwar Dilip Kumar, Rishi Kapoor, Amrita Singh
Mashaal Hindi Yash Chopra Dilip Kumar, Anil Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman
1985 Saagar Ramesh Sippy Rishi Kapoor, Kamal Haasan, Dimple Kapadia
Arjun Rahul Rawail Sunny Deol, Dimple Kapadia
Meri Jung Subhash Ghai Anil Kapoor, Meenakshi Sheshadri
1987 Dacait Rahul Rawail Sunny Deol, Raakhee
1989 Main Azaad Hoon Tinnu Anand Amitabh Bachchan, Shabana Azmi
1992 Khel Rakesh Roshan Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit
1993 Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja Satish Kaushik Anil Kapoor, Sridevi
1995 Prem Hindi Sanjay Kapoor, Tabu
1998 Kabhi Na Kabhi Priyadarshan Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff
2004 Lakshya Farhan Akhtar Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta, Amitabh Bachchan
2006 Don: The Chase Begins Again Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra

Work as lyricist


See also


  1. ^ "Javed Akhtar Awards & Nominations List - Filmibeat". FilmiBeat. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  3. ^ President appoints 5 new members to Rajya Sabha
  4. ^ a b Javed Akhtar Wins Richard Dawkins Award, retrieved 9 August 2021.
  5. ^ "Javed Akhtar Becomes Only Indian to Win Richard Dawkins Award". 7 June 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Writer, Poet, Lyricist, and Atheist Activist Javed Akhtar Wins Richard Dawkins Award | Center for Inquiry". 9 June 2020.
  7. ^ Fidalgo, Paul (2020). "Richard Dawkins award goes to writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar". Skeptical Inquirer. 45 (5): 6.
  8. ^ Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Paul Willemen, ed. (10 July 2014). Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema. Routledge. p. 204. ISBN 978-1-135-94318-9.
  9. ^ "On Father's Day, Javed Akhtar recalls the man who taught him poetry". The Hindu. 16 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Happy Birthday Javed Akhtar: 10 best quotes from the legendary lyricist and writer". Hindustan Times. 16 January 2020. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  11. ^ Chopra, Anupama (2000). Sholay: The Making of a Classic. Penguin Books India. p. 16. ISBN 0-14-02997-0X.
  12. ^ David John Matthews, ed. (2001). Quiver: Poems and Ghazals. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-81-7223-437-9.
  13. ^ "More facts about Rajesh Khanna". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013.
  14. ^ Hungama, Bollywood. "The Magic of Haathi Mere Saathi - Latest Movie Features - Bollywood Hungama". Bollywood Hungama. Archived from the original on 20 July 2012.
  15. ^ Sholay, through the eyes of Salim Khan, [1], Rediff.com
  16. ^ Ramesh Dawar (2003), Encyclopaedia of Hindi cinema, Encyclopædia Britannica (India) Pvt. Ltd.
  17. ^ "Atheism is the religion for these filmi folk". Times of India. 2021. Archived from the original on 30 June 2022.
  18. ^ "Javed Akhtar, Dua nominated to Rajya Sabha – India – DNA". Dnaindia.com. 17 November 2009. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  19. ^ "Farhan Akhtar". IMDb. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  20. ^ "Zoya Akhtar". IMDb. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  21. ^ "Transcript of the Javed Akhtar Chat". rediff.com. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  22. ^ "Eye on England". Telegraphindia.com. 15 July 2012. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012.
  23. ^ "Javed Akhtar calls himself 'equal opportunity atheist who is against all faiths' after offending both sides". Hindustan Times. 13 June 2020. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  24. ^ "10 Self-Proclaimed Celebrity Atheists | Entertainment | iDiva.com | Page 4". iDiva.com. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  25. ^ "Honey Irani on Divorce, Survival & Shabana Azmi". iDiva.com. 14 June 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  26. ^ "Urdu author Hamida Salim passes away". The Hindu. 17 August 2015. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  27. ^ "Poets dominate Sahitya Akademi Awards 2013" Archived 19 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Sahitya Akademi. 18 December 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  28. ^ "Javed Akhtar Conferred With Honorary Doctorate by Jamia Hamdard University". News18 India. 4 March 2019. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  29. ^ "KANK, Omkara lead GIFA list with 12 nominations each". Oneindia. 27 October 2006.
  30. ^ "Nominations - Mirchi Music Award Hindi 2011". 30 January 2013. Archived from the original on 30 January 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2018.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  31. ^ "Winners - Mirchi Music Awards 2011".
  32. ^ "Winners - Mirchi Music Award Hindi 2012". www.radiomirchi.com. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  33. ^ "Winners - Mirchi Music Awards 2014". MMAMirchiMusicAwards. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  34. ^ "MMA Mirchi Music Awards". MMAMirchiMusicAwards. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  35. ^ Aḵẖtar, Jāvīd; Kabir, Nasreen Munni (2002). Talking Films: Conversations on Hindi Cinema with Javed Akhtar. Oxford University Press. p. 49. ISBN 9780195664621. JA: I write dialogue in Urdu, but the action and descriptions are in English. Then an assistant transcribes the Urdu dialogue into Devnagari because most people read Hindi. But I write in Urdu.
  36. ^ Akhtar, Javed (8 January 2015). "Nine poems by the 'other' Javed Akhtar". Scroll.in. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  37. ^ IANS (19 December 2013). "Javed Akhtar among Sahitya Akademi Award winners for 2013". Business Standard India. Retrieved 3 December 2020.

Further reading