On the 71st birthday of the dialogue-weaver and lyrical maestro, Javed Akhtar, we bring you 10 interesting facts about his life and illustrious career that you may not have known
1) Javed Akhtar’s real name is Jadu, taken from a line in a poem penned by his father, "Lamha lamha kisi jadu ka fasana hoga". He is known as Javed since it is the closest to the word Jadu.
2) Javed and his first wife Honey Irani, whom he met on the sets of ‘Seeta Aur Geeta’, share the same birth date, January 17.
3) Javed Akhtar is an atheist and he has raised his children, Farhan and Zoya Akhtar, as atheists too.
4) Javed Akhtar used to assist Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi. He subsequently married Kaifi’s daughter, Shabana Azmi, after his marriage to Honey Irani ended in a divorce.
5) When Javed Akhtar arrived in Mumbai in 1964, he was a homeless man without any food or shelter. He struggled to find work in the Hindi film industry. He used to sleep under trees, or in corridors, until he took shelter in Kamal Amrohi Studio in Jogeshwari.
6) Salim Khan met Javed Akhtar for the first time while filming ‘Sarhadi Lootera’, where Salim was an actor and Javed was a clapper boy. Javed was later made the dialogue-writer of the film as director SM Sagar was unable to find one.
7) As a script-writing duo, Salim ideated stories and Javed helped him with dialogues. Javed wrote his scripts in Urdu which were then written out in Hindi by his assistant. Another assistant would type out a one-line summary in English.
8) Back in the ‘70s, scriptwriters weren’t given credit on film posters. On not getting the appropriate recognition, Salim and Javed decided to paint their names on the posters of the films they have worked on.
9) Javed and Salim split in 1982 due to ego issues. Of the 24 films they wrote, 20 were hits, including 2 Telugu films – ‘Manushulu Chesina Dongalu’ and ‘Yugandhar’ and one Kannada film – ‘Premada Kaanike’.
10) Javed Akhtar has won the Filmfare Award fourteen times - seven times for Best Script, and seven times for Best Lyrics. He has won the National Award five times. In 2013, he received the Sahitya Akademi Award in Urdu, India's second highest literary honour, for his poetry collection ‘Lava’.