Media, cinema are insensitive towards people's woes: Akhtar

Noted lyricist and scriptwriter Javed Akhtar has criticised both media and cinema in the country for being "insensitive" towards the problems of the common man.

"It is sad to note that this insensitivity (towards common man) on the part of the media and cinema also extends to politics and other spheres," Akhtar said while delivering a lecture here last evening.

The Mumbai film industry has undergone a sea change from the time he entered it in the late 60s, Akhtar said, adding that when he first came to the metropolis, producers used to tell him that films should be written for those living in the small towns of the country.

"Those producers knew that if a film succeeded in small towns, it was bound to be a hit," he said.

These days producers are not even worried if their films are not screened in small towns, he regretted.

"We are now living in an age of multiplexes where a ticket costs around Rs 500 and producers feel that if their film is a hit even for a week in big cities, it will be a success," the 68-year-old artist noted.

Because of this thinking, now filmmakers are not concerned about majority of the country's population, he said.

In earlier films, the hero used to be a normal working man - a teacher, an advocate or even a rickshaw puller - but these days he is someone who lives in a palatial house and who has never seen life in small cities or towns, Akhtar said.

He also added that there was a time when Hindi films were known for their songs which were part of the script.

During those days, special attention was paid to the picturisation of songs and this was evident in the work of filmmakers like Bimal Roy, Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt and Vijay Anand.

"The quality of films declined in the 80s when we had movies with cheap songs like 'Sarkai lo khatiya jada lage'," Javed said.

During this period, even noted filmmakers like Yash Chopra and Ramesh Sippy were marginalised, he added.

Nevertheless, the lyricist says he still has a lot of hope in the country's future because of the young population.

Akhtar said he was saying this because it was the young brigade who braved the cold in New Delhi to protest the gang rape of a girl there in December last year.

The veteran scriptwriter, while delivering the Hasnat Siddiqui memorial lecture here last evening, recollected his life in Bhopal and said he would never forget those four years that he spent in the city in the 60s as a college student.

Akhtar said he would always remember the love and affection which he got from the people of Bhopal.

He said once during the winters he decided not to participate in an event in New Delhi as he did not have proper warm clothes. But Hasnat Siddiqui, who was a well-known figure in various fields, and another person gave him blankets.

However, he misplaced his luggage carrying those blankets in Delhi.
Akhtar, in a lighter vein, said he had now come to Bhopal to repay the debt of those two blankets.

"As Hasnat is no more, I will give a blanket to his son and another to Khalilullah," he added.

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