Javed Akhtar believes Urdu belongs to Hindustan
After Indian lyricist Javed Akhtar attended the Faiz Festival in Pakistan last month and left disaster in his wake after making some offensive statements, he appears to be ready to court controversy once again with his recent comments on Urdu and where it is spoken.
Akhtar and his wife actor Shabana Azmi recently launched an Urdu poetry album called Shayarana — Sartaj. According to Indian Express, during the launch, the screenwriter stressed the importance of the Urdu language, saying that it doesn’t belong to Pakistan or Egypt but to Hindustan. “Urdu hasn’t come from any other place… It is our own language. It isn’t spoken outside Hindustan… Pakistan also came into existence after Partition from India, earlier it was a part of India only. So, the language isn’t spoken outside Hindustan…” he explained.
He highlighted the role Punjab played in the growth and prominence of Urdu in the past. “Punjab has a big contribution towards Urdu and it is the language of India! But why did you leave this language? Because of Partition? Because of Pakistan? Urdu should be given attention,” he said. “Earlier it was only Hindustan — Pakistan later separated from Hindustan. Now Pakistan said that Kashmir is ours… Will you believe that? I think, ‘No’! Likewise, Urdu is a Hindustan[i] language and it remains [so].”
Akhtar thinks the focus of the youth has shifted from Urdu and Hindi to English. “We must speak in Hindi because it’s our national language,” he said, adding that language is not based on religion, but region. “If language was based on religion, then the whole of Europe would have one language. That’s why the language is not of religion, but of the region.”
He led the Indian delegation at the Faiz Festival in Lahore in February and was invited to a dinner hosted at singer Ali Zafar’s home. A day or so later, a clip from his talk at the fest went viral where he said that the terrorists responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks were still “roaming freely” in Pakistan.
“The truth is that blaming each other is not going to work. We need to reduce tensions in the region. We’re from Mumbai, we saw how our city was attacked. Those people weren’t from Norway, were they? Nor did they come from Egypt. They are still roaming around in your country. If these complaints are in a Hindustani’s heart, you shouldn’t take offence,” he said.
Actor Resham who was also present at Zafar’s dinner party condemned the lyricist’s comments. The Teefa in Trouble actor himself said he wasn’t aware of what Akhtar’s “insensitive remarks” as he wasn’t present at the festival.