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Religion should be confined to museums, says Javed Akhtar

Javed Akhtar says any criticism of the PM’s policies invites the tag of anti-national

By: Express News Service | Updated: January 8, 2017 3:56 am
javed akhtar, akhtar, demonetisation, javed akhtar demonetisation, spending capacity, india news, latest news, indian express Lyricist and Rajya Sabha MP Javed Akhtar. (File Photo)

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.

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  1. A
    Abu talib
    Jan 8, 2017 at 6:50 am
    J.A should be called Kalyug-Shankracharya because Indian religions are progressive and always welcome new ideas and thoughts and Thatcher is Indianism. As modern muslim I'll call him fakir-asr (modern muslim-thinker).
    1. A
      Arun Rastogi
      Jan 8, 2017 at 11:57 pm
      Religion divides people and always leads to a big conspiracy between priests and politicians
      1. B
        Jan 8, 2017 at 2:41 am
        It is a sign of intolerance on part of Javed Akhtar to say that people have no right to practice region in their day to day life. No one should be forced to practice a religion, but religion with mutual respect has a place in society. Javed is also confused between religion and faith. Perhaps Javed Akhtar is not aware that there are some religions that are faith based (unconditional faith in the words of a single book) and there are non-faith based religions that put emphasis on self experience. Thirdly, there were never so much organised criticism in the media by journalists, left leaning self-claiming intellectuals and political opposition against a prime minister as there is today. And in a very demeaning way too. Just analyse the criticism made by krezywall , Rahul and Mamta - but still Javed claims that criticism is being suppressed. He does not know the difference between giving rational response to a criticism vs. Intolerance to freedom of speech.
        1. A
          Jan 8, 2017 at 1:06 am
          David is right. Why are you attakcing him. Is it because you are either Muslim or Christian and don't like to see the facts he put? So is Javed also echoing other views and not being objective?
          1. K
            Jan 13, 2017 at 9:47 am
            Well said sir👍
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