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Renowned writer and lyricist Javed Akhtar hinted at the growing intolerance within the society, where any criticism against the Prime Minister’s policies invite the tag of “anti-national”.
“In the past, humour against a Prime Minister was passable. But today, if you criticise the Prime Minister’s policies it is deemed as anti-national,” he said. Attending the Loksatta Gappa (interaction) on Saturday, Akhtar held a freewheeling discussion on wide-ranging subjects — from society to politics and religion. Noted actor and poet Kishore Kadam (Soumitra) anchored the discussion and asked various questions that unveiled Akhtar’s versatile personality.
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Faith and belief are two different things. What can be substantiated is belief. Whereas, it is difficult to prove or establish the matters of faith. The premises of religion is founded on faith, which cannot be ascertained or substantiated. And it is a matter of individual’s faith. Therefore, we must have religion. But it should be confined to a museum — these were some of the assertions by Akhtar.
Known for his progressive work and outlook in public life and Bollywood, where he has served for more than 50 years, first question to Akhtar was: should there be religion?
Letting out a smile and gazing at the audience, Akhkar said, “Religion should be there definitely. But it should be in the museum.” Taking the discussion to higher levels, he said, “Atrocities against women are often defined as ‘family honour’. When nations engage in war for oil, we describe it as ‘war on terror’. We undermine the pains of privatisation by calling it liberalisation. Similarly, religion often plays a significant role in covering up many intolerant aspects of the society.”
Responding to a question on whether there has been a rise in intolerance in the society, he said, “It is not as if everything has gone wrong now or everything is getting right now. But today, if we were to enact the episode of Mahabharata as shown in the film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, it would lead to protest.” “In the past, humour against a Prime Minister was passable. But now if we criticise the policies of the present Prime Minister, it would perceived as anti-national,” he added. Reflecting on the ongoing changes in the society and politics, he also expressed his views on Uniform Civil Code and Bollywood item songs. Throughout the discussion, Akhtar regaled the audience with his unique wit and humour.
The Loksatta Gappa is organised by popular Marathi daily Loksatta, which is a part of the Indian Express Group. The session was held in association with Kesari and in partnership with Zee Chovis (24) Taas.
Renowned actor, directors and producers from Marathi and Hindi film industry attended the function.