You’re only as old as you feel. The adage suits best for writer Javed Akhtar, who uses the age-old cliche of “age is just a number” as he turns 75 on Friday.
“As a matter of fact, 75 is a very old age in my mind. So, for me, to believe that I’m 75 is tough because I don’t feel that. My body tells me, ‘Listen buddy, you’re no longer young’, but otherwise, my involvement with life, my curiosity, interests, fantasies, aspirations and ambitions are intact. I’m totally involved with life, and don’t feel like a retired, tired person at all,” he says.
The wizard of words, who has spent over five decades in Indian showbiz as a lyricist and screenwriter believes that “as long as one doesn’t become cynical, disinterested or detached, you don’t get old”.
For his special day, a grand birthday party is being organised by his wife Shabana Azmi, and children Zoya and Farhan. But a prelude included the launch of The World of Javed Akhtar, an exhibition of photographs, posters and paintings curated by Pradeep Chandra and SMM Ausaja.
Speculation is rife that Farhan Akhtar and his girlfriend Shibani Dandekar are planning to get married, but Javed Akhtar says he is completely unaware. “I have no idea, at all. I keep meeting him. I’ve never asked him and he has never told me. If anything of this sort is happening and he thinks he should share it with me, he will tell me. Once your children are grown up people, they’re adults, you cannot treat them like children. You have to respect them, their privacy and personal affairs, the way you would for any adult. I don’t think parents have a right to poke their nose in everything, particularly after a certain age... I know they are very good friends, I know they are together, but that’s about all,” he says.
Ask him if fans can expect an autobiography or memoir from him, and he says, “I think a memoir is better. My life has gone in many directions, it has passed so many phases, I’ve seen so many places, people, cities and different situations. I’ve met some unusual people and I’d like to write about them.”
Any regrets in life? “Oh yes. People often say ‘I have no regrets’. But I have regrets. I really believe that out of these 75 years, my 10 years were totally wasted in drinking. I could’ve used those years, which I scattered all over my life, in a more constructive manner by learning one more language or a musical instrument,” he says.
But at this stage of life, he’s not wasting any time. He reveals that he is working on two scripts, apart from keeping busy with his poetry and song writing.
“After a long time, I’ve realised that people should get a couple of good scripts from me. I started enjoying writing songs to an extent that this aspect was totally neglected. So I am coming back to it... It’s a bit early to talk about it, but I promise that I will try my best to make it interesting,” he concludes.