Mumbai: Popular poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar on Saturday said that languages belonged to the region and not religion. Akhtar was talking at the third Bhendi Bazaar Urdu festival that will be held for two days ending today at Imamwada Municipal School, Bhendi Bazaar.
Akhtar who was recently in News for his frank talk in Pakistan gave one to the audience on language, literature and culture. "Is Urdu spoken by all Muslims in Kerala, Tamil Nadu or Bengal? Language belongs to the region and not religion. Same is with Hindi. All Hindus in Tamil Nadu or Bengal do not speak Hindi. Language belongs to the region but not religion," said Akhtar.
At the inauguration, he was joined by Zubair Azmi, who conceptualised the festival, Sudheendra Kulkarni, former head of Observer Research Foundation, and Urdu writer Suhail Warsi among others.
In hurry to get onto the 'gravy train', people left behind language, literature and culture
Akhtar said the present mood among people is to make the most of the "gravy train" and people value only that which can be put in the bank, which is not the case with language, literature and culture. "In the hurry to get onto the gravy train, people left behind their belongings in the form of language, literature and culture. Youngsters realise some things are missing that were given to their parents by their forefathers but did not come to them," said Akhtar conceding that even he failed as a parent to teach his children Urdu.
"In our times Muhawaras (idioms) were Common. They were capsules of wisdom that have gone missing. These days people also get books whose covers match the colour of furniture," said Akhtar to peels of laughter from the audience.
Cultural, literary and poetic essence of Bhendi Bazaar Urdu culture
The third edition of the festival that was held after six years looks to depict the cultural, literary and poetic essence of Bhendi Bazaar Urdu culture. Bhendi Bazaar was once home to the likes of Manto, Kaifi Azmi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Jannisar Akhtar, Sahir Ludhyanvi and Shakeel Badayuni. It is also said to be home to Sangeet Gharana of which Lata Mangeshkar was a disciple and groomed qawwals.
Soon after the inauguration, the program saw the re-launch of 'Khimran' a collection of poems by Muztar Khairabadi, Akhtar's grandfather. It was followed by a reading of poetry and a question and answer session. "The entire collection is eight kilos. How many poets who have work weighing eight kilos," quipped Akhtar.
Sunday is reserved for more poems, Sufiyana songs, dramas based on Urdu, and link of language to Bollywood through 'Kuch Ilmi Kuch Filmi Guftugu' where Bollywood met with harsh realities.
Leftist writers during 1962 war
"During 1962 war most leftist writers were underground. A writer came to Mastan Talao in Burqa. He said Mujhe Sehal ho gayi manzile ki Hawa ke rukh bhi badal gaye, tera haath, haath main aagaya ki chirag raah main badal gaye (Easy have become directions and wind has changed directions, when your hand came into my hand, lamps turned into ways). The moment he lifted the viel, the police officer looking to arrest him said caught his hand and said 'hand has really come into the hand'," said Azmi adding people will get the know the read life things that happened with people associated with Bollywood.
The popular poet said that in the 20th century, the most contribution to Urdu was of poets from Punjab and that it belonged to Punjab, Delhi and Awadh. "You should understand the secularity of Urdu that was attacked from outside and inside. It is a Common man's language. When the first Quran was written in Urdu, the person was criticised for it. Urdu is Common Man's language. While talking, one should take from all languages," said Akhtar.
Against truth and wrong
Akhtar said he spoke freely for truth and against wrong when asked about how he was an atheist but still a star of the community when he criticised the right wing.
"You like me when I speak against injustice on Muslims, criticise RSS and VHP but do not like me when I speak against Triple Talaq. Had you taken steps yourself on Triple Talaq, you would have been appreciated. Now someone is being bullied and the Mullas are silent. What they allege for you, you are proud of that. You should speak against wrong. Of the four times I have been given protection, three times is because of threats from Muslims," said Akhtar.
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