Urging the men in power to let creative individuals have their way, Akhtar on helping musicians via IPRS
Poetic as he is, Javed Akhtar used his literary prowess to press upon an extremely pertinent fact — Nations that have used religion to establish their identities have often led the country to disaster. “Arre wo [Pakistan] nahi bana sake, duniya nahi bana saki, aap kya bana lenge? I do not know what a Hindu rashtra is, I do not know what a country based on religion is. Religion does not make a nation; it is not enough of a glue,” he said at a city event, reiterating one of the most pertinent issues of the hour with words that were as simple as they were powerful.
Among the most prominent figures of the Indian film industry, Akhtar has left no stone unturned to serve the needs of musicians. In many ways, he spent the fair part of the last few years contributing to the cause of digital India. Ever since he took charge as the chairman of the Indian Performing Right Society in 2017, Akhtar has provided a seamless path for musicians to avail the association’s services via its online portal. “We had noticed that the connection was low. Fake accounts were pruned, and a sense of mutual understanding [was developed]. Today, our collection has reached Rs 300 crores, because we have cleaned the distribution system and made it transparent,” he says of the association’s efforts to legitimise the use of copyrighted music and enable people to deal with collection royalty.
“Earlier, there was no proper accounting, now, everything has been [made available] online. We have come miles, and we have miles to go,” he says, adding that the team has also lent a helping hand to musicians in vulnerable situations, “many of whom were not even members of the IPRS”. On his plate currently is the task of getting medical insurance for the members. He is also arranging workshops to help talented musicians learn the tropes of composition. “They can compose ghazals or songs, but composing tunes without words is an alien concept for them. We have competent musicians who will help them.”
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Having dominated Bollywood for years, and joined hands with musicians across industries, Akhtar has a word of caution for those in power. “The kind of music that marketing departments want, and the tendency to impose their will on creative people, is not desirable. That is the reason behind the diminishing ability of film music. If there is monotony, with every song trying to be an item number, what is the point? Anyone who wants depth will look elsewhere. This is why non-film music is expanding. I hope people understand that by insisting on a certain kind of music, no one [stands to benefit].”