Her lyricist husband may have the strongest command over words, but Shabana says she’d struggle to find any had she been in charge of penning his life’s complex journey
Shabana Azmi with husband Javed Akhtar
One would assume that there wouldn’t be anyone better suited than Shabana Azmi to work on a biographical offering on Javed Akhtar, her husband of almost four decades. But, Azmi believes that her knowledge of Akhtar’s “geographical journey” is limited. “I was born in Hyderabad, and subsequently brought to Bombay when I was four months old. And that was it; thereafter, my journey commenced. But, his has been [a complex journey], traversing across several locations,” she says of her husband, who was born in Uttar Pradesh, and travelled to Gwalior, Lucknow and Bhopal, before arriving in Mumbai.
While Azmi would be hesitant to showcase his story, Akhtar’s journey will be available for people to consume in Jadunama, a coffee table book that will be unveiled today. “There are bits from his speeches that even I have not heard, stories from his days of struggle, and his faith in himself, even in the darkest of times. Arvind Mandloi has meticulously collected facts about him over the years. It’s a compilation of extracts from his public speeches, interviews and quotes.”
The book’s title, she reveals, is a chip of his own name. “Jadu was his nickname because he was a bright child, and that name stuck with him since it epitomised his magical personality. When he went to school, the hunt for a real name began, and they settled on Javed, because it was so close to Jadu.”
Several celebrities have penned pieces on the lyricist in the soon-to-release book. “Salim Khan, Honey Irani, Amitabh Bachchan, and Asha Bhonsle, among others,” Azmi reveals. The highlight from this event though, will be the participation of Gulzar, who is set to recite poetry for the attendees and inaugurate the book. Ask Azmi how Akhtar was able to convince Gulzar to make this rare public appearance, and she says, “Both Javed and Gulzar saab have mutual respect for each other. Rakshanda Jalil, who translated the book in English, requested Gulzar saab to do it, and he agreed readily. We are very grateful. It is exciting to have two legendary poets and lyricists together on one stage.”