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Love your language, not religion

Javed Akhtar

New Delhi: For noted scriptwriter, lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar, language has no religion and says those who cry foul over “purity of language” should know that it is non-existent.

Speaking at ‘Jashn-e-Rekhta’, a festival celebrating Urdu language organised by Rekhta organisation here, Akhtar hit out at those who aim to “divide people on linguistic lines”.

“Those who raise questions about dying languages, should know that there is a big question mark on all the languages today. Economic benefits have become the sole criteria of keeping a language alive,” he said.

The 70-year-old artist refuted notions of mixing language and religion.

“Urdu was the first language that was secular, anti-fundamentalist and anti-conventions since the beginning. … we label Urdu as a language of Muslims or a particular region or country,” he said.

On a recent instance of replacing Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Maanto’s writings by a university in Punjab with Japanese stories in its MA syllabus, Akhtar said, “Learning a foreign tongue is applaudable. But is learning it at the cost of one’s mother tongue right?”

Looking at the fate of indigenous languages in a globalised world, he noted, “People have created skewed notions about learning Indian languages. Today, if you are well versed in Hindi or Urdu, people question your upbringing, he said.

Leaving the audience in splits with his witty replies, Akhtar, who has penned many successful Bollywood songs also took a dig at his industry’s “badzabaan” (scurrilous).

“There is no language left in films today. Everything is a hybrid version of everything else, whether it is songs, dialogues or scripts,” he said.

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