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HomeEntertainmentI believed poets need to drink, it destroyed my marriage: Javed Akhtar

I believed poets need to drink, it destroyed my marriage: Javed Akhtar


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Renowned poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar recently shared candid insights into his first marriage with actress Honey Irani, shedding light on the challenges they faced, particularly his battle with alcoholism. The couple, who were married for 11 years before parting ways in 1985, endured tumultuous times exacerbated by Akhtar’s addiction.

In a recent interview, Akhtar not only reflected on his personal experiences but also advocated for a Uniform Civil Code in India, drawing from his adherence to such principles. He emphasised his commitment to supporting Irani beyond what was legally mandated.

“I started drinking at the age of 20-21 and left when I was 42 years old. I could afford a bottle and used to drink almost a bottle every night. It’s very common for Urdu poetics to become big drunkards because they believe that if they are poets and artistes, they should be carefree and you should drink. I think I had those wrong values,” he mentioned in an interview.

Akhtar confessed to starting his struggle with alcohol at a young age, which persisted until he was 42. His nightly consumption of nearly a bottle became a damaging habit, fueled by misconceptions within the Urdu poetic community that associated creativity with carefree indulgence.

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However, Akhtar recognised the detrimental impact this had on his behaviour, particularly within the confines of his marriage.

Despite imbibing the cultural values of tehzeeb from his upbringing in Lucknow, Akhtar found himself succumbing to the darker aspects of his addiction.

The suppression of bitterness coupled with the influence of alcohol led to outbursts of foul language and a persona he scarcely recognised. These toxic dynamics deeply strained his relationship with Irani, leading to irreconcilable differences.

Reflecting on his journey, Akhtar acknowledged that sobriety and responsibility could have altered the course of their marriage significantly. He lamented the repercussions of his actions, acknowledging the pain inflicted on those around him. Yet, through introspection and personal growth, he has emerged with a newfound clarity, fostering a supportive friendship with Irani despite their past struggles.

Akhtar while sharing his story, advocates for empathy, understanding, and the transformative power of self-awareness.


Irani’s early career as a child actor paved the way for their union. In a moment of spontaneity, Akhtar proposed during a card game, promising marriage if he won.

Despite challenges, including Akhtar’s later battle with alcoholism, their love endured. Though their romantic journey diverged, they remained close friends, united by mutual respect. Their story reminds us of love’s intricacies and the enduring power of friendship. As we honor Javed Akhtar’s birthday, we recognize his contributions to cinema and the richness of his personal narrative, defined by love, resilience, and enduring companionship.




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