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New crop of actors can’t read dialogues in Hindi script: Javed Akhtar


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Veteran lyricist-writer Javed Akhtar says he has to write Hindi dialogues in the Roman script for the new generation of actors today because “they can’t read anything else”.

The 79-year-old poet was speaking at a session titled ‘Hindi & Urdu: Siamese Twins’, held on Thursday evening at the India International Centre in New Delhi.

“In the film industry, we write (Hindi) dialogues in Roman (English script) for most of the new crop of actors today. They can’t read anything else,” Akhtar told a packed house at the CD Deshmukh Auditorium.

The industry veteran, who was in conversation with Professor Alok Rai, said language belongs to a region and has nothing to do with religion.

“It’s been about 200 years since the separation of Hindi and Urdu was accepted by the authorities. But they were always one. The Bengalis of the erstwhile East Pakistan said, ‘We’ll die but not study Urdu, we want another country (Bangladesh).’ Who were these 10-crore people, did they speak Urdu?

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“Do the Arabs in the Middle East speak Urdu? Urdu is the language of only the Indian subcontinent. This has nothing to do with religion. You go and tell people of Tamil Nadu that Hindi is the language of Hindus, see what happens then,” he added.

Akhtar later advocated that there is a need for a dictionary of Hindustani words.

“You can’t speak any Urdu phrase without using Hindi terms. The syntax is the same, and 90 per cent of vocabulary is the same, why can’t some of us scholars, writers, and researchers put together a common dictionary in the forgotten language which we call Hindustani? A dictionary with some of the excellent words of both languages Hindi and Urdu in one place. Imagine how rich our vocabulary will be!”

Akhtar, one-half of the successful screenwriter duo Salim-Javed and a lyricist who has moved with the times, said as a film writer, he knows when to use a word of Hindi or Urdu.

“That’s because I’m writing Hindustani for Hindustanis (Indians). I’m not writing for Urdu wallahs and Hindi wallahs. I’m writing for Hindustanis. The day Hindustanis develop an interest, the language will automatically become fine.”

Language, culture, values, and aesthetics are “dynamic in nature”, said Akhtar, adding they would die if they became stagnant.

“A river will keep expanding if it keeps including other streams into it. What will you keep removing from culture? It’s not possible because a day will come when someone will say that what is left is also from outside and not needed.”

Citing the example of Pakistan’s formation based on the two-nation theory, the veteran quipped: “The ones who removed something are right here, our neighbours, look at them. They wanted to be pure, the name of their very country is ‘Pak’. It’s for everyone to see how ‘pak’ (pure) they have become. If you think they are right, you also become ‘pak’.”


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