Barring Fundamentalists, India was always tolerant- Javed Akhtar


Javed Akhtar, eminent lyricist-scriptwriter has said barring the fundamentalist elements, Indian society has always been tolerant. He said some Hindu groups are now behaving like Muslim fundamentalists.

“In 1975 I showed a comedy scene in a temple. Today I won’t. But even in 1975, I wouldn’t have shown a scene in a mosque because that level of intolerance was there. Now the other one is matching it,” Akhtar said last night at a literary meet in Kolkata.

At a panel discussion on intolerance, he said, “Now they are joining the club….its a tragedy. Don’t say Hindu. That’s a wrong representation. Some Hindu groups.”

Akhtar who has co-written scripts of many Bollywood blockbusters with Salim Khan including ‘Sholay’, ‘Don’, ‘Seeta aur Geeta’ and ‘Deewar’ said, it was the Hindus which made the film click at the box office, while citing the example of Aamir Khan starrer superhit Hindi film ‘PK.

Regarding the attack on the freedom of expression, he said it is not a new trend in the country. “There was always some kind of attack on freedom of expression. You can say something in an article and in a seminar, but you cannot say the same thing in a documentary and a feature film. It was always like that,” Akhtar said.

While talking on his stand of refusal to return his Sahitya Akademi award, Akhtar said, “Because I know that this award was given to me by writers so why should I return it?.”
“I understand (the case of) Nayanatra Sahgal. She returned it not to get some publicity. Perhaps she felt that this is the way she can protest,” he said.

Author Ruskin Bond, who has also not returned his Akademi award, said the literature body cannot stop people from being murdered.  Actress-turned-author Nandana Sen, daughter of economist Amartya Sen and writer Nabaneeta Dev Sen, said there had been concentrated attacks on free thinkers like MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare in the last 12 months which was very disturbing.