Hindi and Urdu languages, which share a common history in the Indian sub-continent, have benefited from each other in their growth, but the Persian script in which the latter is written needs to be protected to secure the distinct identity of the language. Ninety per cent of the Urdu literature, published in Devanagari script, is available to Hindi readers.

These views emerged during a session on “Urdu Mein Hindustan” (India in Urdu) at the Jaipur Literature Festival here on Sunday. Eminent Urdu poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar, who was to address the session, could not attend it due to illness. In Mr. Akhtar’s absence, popular Hindi poet-critic Ashok Vajpeyi took over the session and conversed with screenwriter Prasoon Joshi and classical singer Vidya Shah on a wide range of issues — the growth of Urdu in India and Pakistan, post-Partition challenges, richness of Urdu poetry and people’s aspirations reflected in modern Urdu literary works.

Mr. Vajpeyi affirmed that the threads of poetic craft were common in both Hindi and Urdu, which had flourished in northern India as part of a composite culture. “It would amount to an injustice to Urdu to try to find its roots in the shared history. It is very much an Indian language,” he said while referring to the topic assigned to the session.

On Bollywood lyrics

Mr. Joshi said the popular songs scripted for Bollywood movies drew their words from both Hindi and Urdu and the native speakers of both the languages could appreciate their rhythm and beauty. He said the film industry, representing the country’s plural culture, should promote new experiments in the linguistic stream affecting both the languages.

Urdu words a ‘challenge’

Ms. Shah said the pronunciation of certain Urdu words, because of their Arabic and Persian origin, often posed a challenge to the singers whose mother tongues were not Urdu. The panellists noted that Urdu, spoken and understood by masses, had a bright future as its literature was being enriched with the contributions of young writers.