- Actor, Writer, Screenplay, Dialogue Writer, Voice, Lyricist
Jan 17, 1945 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India
Jan 17, 1945 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India
A wordsmith par excellence, Javed Akthar is a lyrical maestro, known for his unparalleled body of work. For his immense contribution to the world arts, this poet, lyricist and screenwriter has been honored with the Padma Shri (1999), Padma Bhushan (2007), and the Sahitya Akademi Award. He, along with writer Salim Khan, penned the stories of some of the most iconic films in Hindi cinema like Seeta Aur Geeta (1972), Zanjeer (1973), Deewar (1975), Sholay (1975), and Mr. India (1987). The multiple National Award recipient, further wrote songs for films such as Silsila, 1942: A Love Story, Border, Godmother, Refugee, Lagaan, and Wake Up Sid.
His 2017 project includes the animated Hindi film Hanuman Da Damdaar, which along with Javed Akhtar’s voice, also stars the voices of Salman Khan, Raveena Tandon, Vinay Pathak, Saurabh Shukla, and Makrand Deshapande in important roles.
Belonging to the family of renowned poets, Javed Akhtar was born in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh to Jan Nisar Akhtar, a Hindi film writer, and Safia Akhtar, a singer and also a writer. He spent his childhood in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh and attended Saifiya College in Bhopal, for graduation.
Javed Akhtar was first married to former actress and screenwriter Honey Irani, with whom he has two children: Zoya Akhtar and Farhan Akhtar. He divorced Irani to tie the knot with the famous Hindi cinema actress Shabana Azmi. Azmi’s parents were extremely skeptical about this match, as it was Akhtar’s second marriage However, Akhtar and Azmi’s love was too strong and the affair continued for six long years, till he divorced Honey Irani, in 1984.
As a Screenwriter
Rajesh Khanna, in the 1970s, played an instrumental role in shaping the career of the then struggling writer duo Salim-Javed. He approached them with the script of Haathi Mere Saathi, which he wanted them to redo. The movie which also starred Tanuja became the biggest hit of 1971 and received a lot of critical acclaim. Their debut movie, however, was Ramesh Sippy’s Andaz (1971), starring Shammi Kapoor, Hema Malini, Rajesh Khanna and Simi Garewal. This film is the first of the successful script writings that Salim-Javed began their illustrious careers with. They, subsequently write the stories of Seeta Aur Geeta (1972), Adhikar (1971), and Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1972).
Often referred to as Hindi cinema’s greatest screenwriters, the duo played a major role in making Amitabh Bachchan a superstar. After a string of flops, Amitabh Bachchan had become a name associated with box-office duds. Meanwhile, the casting for Prakash Mehra’s Zanjeer was on and all the A-list actor of that time had turned down the script, as the concept of ‘Angry Young Man’ was alien to the fraternity. Salim-Javed then suggested Amitabh Bachchan’s name to Mehra, who only reluctantly agreed. Upon its release, the movie proved out to be a huge success, changed the tide from romantic films to action films, establishing Amitabh's new image, as a common man, fighting the corrupt system.
Salim-Javed were touted as the reason behind Amitabh Bachchan’s sudden rise to stardom. Their written dialogues, when given the baritone voice of Bachchan, appealed to both classes and masses. The three, subsequently worked in iconic films like Deewar (1975), Sholay (1975), and Don (1978). Cracks started appearing in this successful partnership when Amitabh Bachchan refused to play the lead in Mr. India. Misunderstandings started arising, which were further consolidated by their ego issues. The writer-duo, who had by now achieved a celebrity status, parted ways on a bitter-sweet note, with Mr. India being their last film as a team. In the 24 movies that they wrote, 20 were superhits, with both taking home three Filmfare Awards for Best Screenplay- for Zanjeer, Deewar, and Shakti.
After the split, Akhtar wrote the screenplay of movies like Betaab (1983), Saagar (1985), Arjun (1985), Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1993), Prem (1995), Lakshya (2004), and Don: The Chase Begins Again (2006).
As a Lyricist
Javed Akhtar made his debut as a lyricist with Yash Chopra’s controvercial romantic drama film Silsila in 1981. Post the successful start as a songwriter, he wrote many hit songs for many films in Bollywood. In 1996, for Sai Paranjpye film Saaz, Akhtar won his first National Film Award for Best Lyrics. This new found recognition, was eventually followed by four more National Awards, for Border (1997), Godmother (1998), Refugee (2000), and Lagaan (2001). Some of the films that Javed Akhtar has been associated with are Virasat, Yes Boss, Duplicate, Baadshah, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, Zubeidaa, Chalte Chalte, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Main Hoon Na, Veer Zaara, Swades, Jodhaa Akbar, and Rock On!!. His 2017 project includes Rahul Dholakia’s action drama film Raees, starring Shah Rukh Khan in the titular character.