Javed Akhtar is perhaps one of the most articulate and well-respected lyricists in the Indian film industry today. Prior to becoming a lyricist however, he was known for having jointly written screenplays for major films such as Seeta Aur Geeta (1972), Zanjeer (1973), Deewaar (1975) and Sholay (1975) with his colleague Salim Khan under the title Salim-Javed. Whilst paying tribute to his close friend Yash Chopra, who died last weekend, Mr. Akhtar stated in a video interview with CNN-IBN that Chopra was the one who forced him into pursing a song writing career. He made his debut as a lyricist with Chopra’s classic film Silsila (1981), which is still regarded as one of the greatest soundtracks ever made. In his interview, Mr. Akhtar stated the following: “I should thank him and keep thanking him forever because I was very reluctant and I did not want to become a lyricist. Perhaps he was so sure that I would be able to do it to his satisfaction that he really forced me into it and I must thank him for that.” You cannot help but wonder what the soundtrack to Silsila would have sounded like, had Javed Akhtar not provided some captivating lyrics to songs such as ‘Dehka Ek Khwab’ and ‘Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum.’
When asked why the songs to Yash Chopra’s films such as Kabhi Kabhie (1976) have acquired such a huge cult status, Mr. Akhtar explained why this is so. “What makes his music immortal, what makes you remember ‘Kabhi Kabhie Mere Dil Mein’ after almost 37 years is the literary flavour. It is the richness of the lyrics which makes the song immortal. I personally believe that the tune is the body and the words are the character of a song.” It is difficult to disagree with the legendary lyricist and the arguments which he has made. You only have to listen to a classic song like ‘Kabhi Kabhie Mere Dil Mein’ to know that it was a song that was composed with great thought and deliberation. It is the repetitive use of such tactics which has prevented the songs contained in many of Yash Chopra’s films from becoming obsolete.
Yash Chopra died at the age of 80 from multiple-organ failure, as a result of complications from dengue fever. His last ever directed film, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, will be releasing in cinemas on 13 November 2012.