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Rendezvous with Javed

Javed Akhtar, who read from "Tarkash", his collection of poems, held the audience spellbound at a recent function in the city.

JAVED AKHTAR, Bollywood scriptwriter and lyricist, held the gathering at Mowbray's Hall, Hotel Adyar Park, spellbound, as he read out from "Tarkash"— a collection of poems and ghazals. First published in 1995, the English translation of "Tarkash" — suitably titled Quiver, is now available. Accompanied by his charming wife Shabana Azmi, Javed surprised one by his lack of filmi air at the function organised by Ellements. And when family friend, Jayanthi Natarajan, went to the podium to declare that Javed was a "humanist" first, one could not agree with her more!

The audience spontaneously murmured, "Wah, wah!" as Javed recited, "I remember that room," "Banjara," "Dilemma," "Riddle," "The journey of the pawn," and "Perplexity". Javed recited each poem from memory, and as he finished, danseuse Anita Ratnam read out the English translation with gusto. And when she lent her personality to the poem, "Come now, do not think," the audience applauded.

At the question and answer session he was effusive, charming and affable. When someone wanted to know about the romantic poems he had written for Shabana, he quipped, "It's not for you," but went on to talk about romance after marriage. So, was "Quiver" the reason for his visit to Chennai?

"Actually my film career started in Kodambakkam, at Vikram Studio," he said. My second film "Haathi Mere Saathi", was also produced in Chennai, confessed the man who was involved with hits such as "Sholay", "Zanjeer", "Silsila", and "Trishul".

Did he always want to write? Javed's response came as a surprise. Although he hailed from a family of poets, (he knew he could write by the time he was 12 or13 years old), Javed wrote verses only when he crossed thirty. From films to "Viva", it has been a long journey.

Talking of Viva, he said he was happy to have written songs that belonged to his daughter's generation. And he expressed happiness at the coming together of sensible music and good recording.

What made good poetry? Javed, who can write at any time and place, when he is in the mood, felt that good poetry was "saying something that had not been said before." He was pleasantly surprised that when he resumed script writing after a ten-year gap, heroines had begun to play more substantial roles.

As the evening progressed, when someone reminded him that "Dil Chatha Hai" , directed by his son Farhan, was being beamed on a private channel, the lyricist smiled. On the whole, it was a riveting evening, which concluded with another round of "Wah, wahs!"


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