Jaipur Literature Festival 2013: Tameez is missing in Bollywood songs, says Javed Akhtar

Resham Sengar

Jaipur: Hindi cinema has completed its 100 innings and the second day of the happening DSC Jaipur Literature Festival 2013 organised a special talk session about the good ol’ times that have gone by and the ‘modernist’ films and songs that are being made today.

The session, titled ‘Bollywood and National Narrative’, had one of the most revered and most popular lyricists in the history of Indian cinema, Javed Akhtar, in conversation with Rachel Dwyer to lead a talk on the changing times of the Hindi movies in particular and the Indian cinema in general.

Javed Akhtar said that decades ago, villains in Hindi films were zamindars or thakurs, but when capitalism was abolished and modernisation came into being, an urban mafia became the bad guy in films.

He went on define a ‘hero’ during the talk, saying that a hero is a personification of contemporary mentality and aspirations. Since with times morality changes, the hero also changes. “Now the society has no villains, because whatever we used to look for in a villain have ironically become our own idols,” said Akhtar.

Javed Akhtar shared several interesting details about how the movies were made during his days. “When we wrote movie scripts in our time, we were hardly concerned about their socio-political relevance. We just thought that what we have is a good story.”

He cited shortage of original stories as one of the main reasons behind the kind of similar cinema that we see today. “(These days) any producer would want a brand new story that has come before,” said Akhtar cheekily.

The legendary lyricist slammed today’s mainstream commercial films by saying that they “are not rooted in culture.”

“Yes, the change is there in the cinema we see these days. Technically films have become sophisticated but the real soul in a film is still missing. I don’t see a ‘Mother India’ or a ‘Do Beegha Zameen’ being made today,” said Akhtar.

Moving on to shed light on the burning issue of vulgar lyrics that are being written in today’s Bollywood, the remarkable song writer said, “Nowadays what is written is a sign that the language is shrinking in our society.”

He said that no one is seriously interested in literature these days and added that the so-called haasya kavi sammelans are a far cry from being truly entertaining.

Javed Akhtar seemed to be genuinely disappointed at the worsening state of the lyrics that we get to listen to today. He said that in the early 50s, 60s and 70s, the song used to have a man, his beloved and nature as an important part, which made the song more melodious and evergreen. But according to Akhtar, the kind of tasteless numbers that Hindi cinemas have been churning out till date – since the last two decades – kills the essence of real romance. “Tameez or etiquettes are missing in Bollywood songs. The people who are making such songs have not even listened to poetry or even a ‘sher’ in their life. Sarkaye lo khatiya jaada lage was a superhit song, as was L.K. Advani,” stated the great lyricist.

He went on slam the Rs 100 crore filmmakers who get away with the moolah by making shoddy cinema. “The trader (filmmaker) does not know what his customer (viewer) wants. Name at least one decent film that has made Rs 200 crores. But I am not saying that good films are not being made. They are simply too few to be counted,” said the song writer.