Urdu, upbringing and Javed Akhtar
A language that gave birth to many of the languages that world over people speak, write and read; a language of etiquette, aesthetics and values, Urdu has somehow become a language equivalent to a historic-art piece which astounds and leave people in amazement because of its rare existence.
Found in poetry or couplets of poets, in historic books or in Bollywood songs, Urdu, since a long time, has been in controversies as people are wanting to know or dig into which religion it actually belongs to.
Javed Akhtar, a renowned name of film industry who has contributed immensely towards promoting this language through Bollywood and various other ways, spoke about his relationship with Urdu, during a recent Urdu Festival in the capital.
“History can be traced but languages cannot. People have tried to trace Urdu’s origin and have tried to demarcate it for Hindus and Muslims however, I have a small complaint with all my friends from government and Muslim community that we have never asked Kashmir from Pakistan nor we want to give it back then why are we declaring Urdu as their language!”, said Javed Akhtar.
Sharing his childhood stories with us Javed told that he feels fortunate to have been born and brought up in the midst of legendary poets. By the age of 12, he could remember thousands of couplets and as he grew up, the number went up to lakhs. People would often be surprised about the fact that how can he remember so many couplets at such an early age. However, till then, he never wrote anything but would recommend people to make certain changes.
In 1976, When Javed turned 31, his father passed away and that was the time when he started to write. During that time he met a lot of young poets and realized that it was not meant just for the oldies. That was also a time when he wanted to write for movies but when he got the opportunity, he realized that it was not a big thing to be asked for.
“There are only two things you work for, things you achieve and things you want to achieve” says Javed Akhtar.
Javed has explored every avenue in terms of writing- whether it is prose, poems or scripts and what not, however, he didn’t find any challenges in doing it all. “I agree people are either baller or batsman but there are also people who are all rounders, probably I belong to that area.”
Javed says that self-praise is just like a shortcut that leads to your downfall. “There is no need to think about oneself but think only about your work. Your work would fetch you name but there is no guarantee that it won’t give you a fall so, self-praising should have no place in anyone’s life. Be thankful and kind to people who praise you but yes, being your own critique is important too. As everyone keeps saying, I would reiterate it- An artist is successful till the time he is not satisfied.”
While talking about Urdu’s disappearance in the current scenario, Javed Akhtar spoke, “Since globalization has happened and corporate are growing in our country, the need of knowing English amongst the middle class and upper middle class has really shot up. Even though the parents want the children to be connected to their mother tongue, because of their ambition to see them successful they can’t help but force English on them. However, all this learning is happening at the stake of our own language. Middle class who can make the language travel to the world is not taking up the language due to which it is going to the lower class and here is where the language loses its beauty and turns into something we hear in songs, films or serials, today.
The scenario is this that if today, you speak good Hindi or Urdu people think there is some flaw in your upbringing. You don’t like anything about your country but still scream that you love India without realizing that the one who gets cut-off from the language is cut-off from his own roots, ” says Javed Akhtar.
At the end, Javed expressed how it is hard for any parent to teach their kids the language since, they are already preoccupied and overloaded with their school work. He further also spoke about the things that can be done, “Every sort of language till the age of 11 years should be taught because till then they are able to catch up the accent, diction and so on. The government should give the students the freedom to give exams in their own language since there should be something happening on the grounds where they feel that the language was useful to learn.”
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