Writing Javed Akhtar

He met him for the first time at an event. Slowly, a deep relationship developed — he became like a brother, also like a father — recalls author Arvind Mandloi, who has written ‘Jadunama: Javed Akhtar’s Journey’ (Amaryllis) in Hindi, which has also been translated into English by Rakshanda Jalil.

The book is not just about a writer, poet, lyricist and political activist but also delves deep into his struggle since childhood to become what he is today. While Akhtar was named ‘Jadu’ at birth (thus the title of the book), which was later changed, Mandloi has spoken to several people whose lives Akhtar has touched — Gulzar, Farhan Akhtar, Zoya Akhtar to bring forth a narrative much beyond his artistic achievements.

Indore-based Mandloi, who barely finished primary school (grade V) spent almost four years researching and meeting people before writing the book.

“During my initial meetings with Akhtar, I realised that the person we see from the outside is very different. He looks at the world and sees people from a very different and enigmatic angle.”

Initially, the author told the poet that he just wanted to do a series of interviews, but the latter soon realised that he was doing something elaborate.

“I eventually told him that I had spoken to several people in his life, and was planning a book. He could not believe it. In fact, the publisher was quite enthusiastic and we decided to release it in Hindi and English. The book’s second edition is coming out in its second month,” says Mandloi.

Recalling that everyone in Akhtar’s circle he approached was accommodating and gave him enough time for long conversations, the author says, “They talked about the contributions Akhtar has made to their lives. I was surprised to see that so many people giving him credit to several substantial things in their careers and personal lives. It was a revelation how he changed people’s lives and the way he maintains relationships,” says this author, who runs a business and stresses that he did not let lack of education come in between life and him.

“Reading diverse poets introduced me to different facets of life. I derive strength and energy from words.”

Adding that Akhtar’s philosophy and the way he lives his life will always be an inspiration for him, Mandloi says, “If he did not get into cinema, he would have a lot more for the world than he already has.”

(Sukant Deepak can be reached at sukant.d@ians.in)




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