Young songwriters don't give enough importance to the craft of poetry, says screenwriter and lyricist Javed Akhtar.
Excerpts from the interview:
This is the fourth time in a row that you will be judging Indian Idol. Any comments?
Indian Idol is the first talent hunt show and it's a win-win situation for all. First, the audience is entertained. Second, it's lucrative for the channel. Third, small town talents, who never thought of making it to the nation, get a platform to showcase their talents. Fourth, we, the judges, get paid just by sitting idle and criticising others.<b1>
Why is it that we have not had a female Indian Idol so far?
It's very disappointing for me as well. If you have watched the previous shows, you would have noticed that as long as I could, I helped the girl contestants to get totally fair chances.
But somehow voting mein garbar ho jati hai harbar. (During voting, something wrong happens every time).
The fact is in our society male contestants are preferred by not only men but also women. In our society, a woman has to be three times better than a man to compete with him and thank god that is not difficult.
Hope the mindset changes this year and we get our first female Indian Idol. As it is we are getting more girl contestants this time.
Is it true that there is a lot of pressure on the judges?
We don't have any pressure. Our job is to choose the aspiring idols and present them to the public to choose. But, yes, at times there is a lot of pressure on the channel.
Most of the people who vote hardly have any knowledge of singing. So why take their votes for granted?
But ultimately it's the channel that decides the idol. Isn't it? How can the channel decide the idol? Every thing is computerised. Koi garbar karna (Doing anything wrong) is impossible.
These days we are seeing a lot of Javed Akhtar - the judge in many reality shows. What is it in judging that interests you?
Judging is a cushy job. You sit back, relax and comment or criticise others' performance. Jokes apart, by judging shows I get to meet so many talents with whom otherwise I would not have interacted. In the show Lead India I met some exceptionally talented intellectuals, in Indian Idol I heard some immensely talented singers.
Your son Farhan is all set to act in the Bollywood film Rock On. How do you feel?
Farhan will be showing me the first cuts of his film within a few days. He pleasantly surprised me when he directed Dil Chahta Hai. And now his new avatar will surely "rock" me.
Almost all members of your family (ex-wife Honey Irani, son Farhan Akhtar and daughter Zoya Akhtar) are directors. When are you going to direct a film?
Writing is an addiction and once you get addicted, it's very difficult to concentrate on other things. It makes you lazy and no job seems more interesting than writing. Often I think I will do this and that but ultimately land up with my pen and paper. I am too lazy to make films.
What's your take about the young generation of lyricists?
Priorities of society over the last 30 years have dramatically changed. There is a shrinking of language in today's society. Young lyricists don't give enough importance to the craft of poetry. Passion, emotion and fantasy are important. But craft is the science of lyrics writing. I personally believe that Bollywood songs were the worst in the 1980s. Thankfully, youngsters have realised that and are working at it.
What are your forthcoming projects?
I have just finished writing a book on poetry called "Lava". Besides there are a few films; recent releases include Love Story 2050 and BR Films' Banda yeh bindaas hai.
Are you watching Twenty20? Which team are you supporting?
Though I have written the Mumbai Indians' team anthem, I have started watching the matches only recently. As for supporting a team, I only support India when it plays against other countries. Here it's an intra-country match. So no question of supporting, but only enjoying.
What do you think about the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) team?
KKR-owner Shah Rukh Khan is an old friend of mine. So I wish the best for his team.