Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Javed, Shabana and Salman Rushdie

Javed Akhtar is left disappointed with Salman Rushdie. The infamous author wrote a rude, nasty and uncivilzed mail to Javed Akhtar's wife Shabana Azmi. Javed Akhtar has been a supporter of Salman Rushdie but he did mildly criticize Rushdie in a TV interview. That was enough to infuriate latter.

Let us get one headline out of the way. The notorious author did not have Javed's email address so he chose to communicate through Shabana. It is probably not a case of insulting the wife of your interlocutor.

The problem lies in Javed Akhtar's idealism. In spite of coming from an illustrious family, he is Jan Nisar Akhtar's son whose is a respected name in Urdu literature as well as Mumbai, Javed is a self-made man. To be self-made is usually a mixed blessing. It is a monumental triumph and it is a gigantic tragedy. Monumental triumph should be understandable because to be self-made is indeed something triumphal. It is also a gigantic tragedy because you get cut-off from reality. The giant piece of reality that your triumph is cuts you off from the more giant reality. You are a giant in one aspect of life when you can declare yourself self-made man. But that is only one aspect of life. This injunction of reality into the picture by no means diminishes the value of personal triumph.

Thus just because you created the giant angry young man of Bollywood and then made a successful transition to a lyricist and then a public intellectual speaking vaguely for Muslims does not make you a worthy espouser of Muslim cause. Nor it qualifies you to take Muslim feelings for granted. That Rushdie has given you a nasty bite does tell us that you made a mistake in recognizing him. You should not have trusted him in the first place.