‘In 53 Years Of My Career, He Could Not Find One Film, One Script…’: Javed Akhtar On Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Remarks

New Delhi: Javed Akhtar says he was “flattered” when ‘Animal’ director Sandeep Reddy Vanga was unable to find anything objectionable about his body of work spanning 53 years after the industry veteran highlighted that the commercial success of films with problematic scenes was a dangerous trend.

At an event earlier this year, Akhtar had expressed concern about the current state of cinema taking an apparent swipe at Vanga’s movie but didn’t take its name. The swipe, however, didn’t go down well with the director who in turn called Akhtar’s art “false”.

Starring Ranbir Kapoor as a violent man desperate for his father’s approval, ‘Animal’ received criticism for its graphic content and misogyny. Notably, the film was one of the top grossing Hindi titles of 2023 earning Rs 900 crore at the box office.

“When he or his team retaliated, I was extremely flattered. I was honoured. In 53 years of my career, he could not find one film, one script, one scene, one dialogue or one song, that he could say ‘See, this is what you have written and you are talking about my film’,” Akhtar, 79, said in an interview to digital outlet Mojo Story.

When the ‘Animal’ director was unable to find any dirt on him, he decided to take an aim at his son Farhan Akhtar’s production ‘Mirzapur’, said the lyricist-writer, known for films such as ‘Zanjeer’, ‘Deewar’ and ‘Mr India’ with former writing partner Salim Khan.

In an interview later, Vanga had said: “Why didn’t he (Akhtar) tell the same thing to Farhan Akhtar when he was producing ‘Mirzapur’? That show is full of expletives… Why is he not checking his son’s work?” “So he (Vanga) had to go to my son’s office and find a TV serial, which is neither acted, directed nor written by Farhan. His company has produced it. Nowadays, these big companies like Excel are producing a lot of things. So one of them was this (‘Mirzapur’). He mentioned that. It flattered me to no end. You weren’t able to find anything in 53 years of my career. What a shame,” Akhtar added.

Akhtar also said Vanga “totally misunderstood” the point he was trying to make.

“I’ll take the name ‘Animal’. Obviously, I was talking about that film. I haven’t seen it, I have only heard about certain things (in the film). I was not criticising the filmmaker at all.

“In a democratic society, he has the right to make one ‘Animal’, and many Animals. I was concerned about the audience, not about the filmmaker. He has the right to make any kind of film. As a matter of fact, people should have the right to make porn and it should be released as ‘strictly for adults’,” he said.

A filmmaker can even venerate a problematic character, like Kapoor’s Ranvijay in ‘Animal’, said Akhtar, adding that the “matter of concern” was crores of people appreciating this narrative.

“Ten-12 people can be chauvinistic, it’s ok. What matters is that many people are appreciating it. It’s frightening… a matter of concern… I had not said a word against the film or the filmmaker. I was only concerned about what kind of content the audiences are appreciating,” he added.

At the Ajanta Ellora International Film Festival in January, Akhtar had cited the example of the controversial bootlicking scene from ‘Animal’ featuring Kapoor and Triptii Dimri, who play Ranvijay and Zoya.

He was referring to a key scene where the film’s lead character Ranvijay (Kapoor) asks his mistress Zoya (Dimri) to lick his shoes to prove her love for him.

In response to Akhtar’s criticism, the ‘Animal’ team tagged him on X and wrote: “Writer of your calibre cannot understand the betrayal of a lover (Between Zoya & Ranvijay) then all your art form is big FALSE… (sic)” During the interview with Mojo Story, Akhtar also weighed in on the Uniform Civil Code.

“I’m pro Uniform Civil Code not since yesterday but for many years. But what is happening in the name of Uniform Civil Code is absurd. Under the banner of Uniform Civil Code, it should not be used as Muslim or minority bashing. It should be fair, logical and it should be from the Centre. And it should be thoroughly discussed,” he said, adding he identifies as an atheist Muslim.

Akhtar said he was following the Uniform Civil Code even after his divorce from his first wife, actor-screenwriter Honey Irani, with whom he has filmmakers-children Zoya Akhtar and Farhan.

“After 11 years of marriage, we got divorced. According to Muslim Personal Law, I was only responsible to give her alimony for four months but I didn’t think like that. She was my responsibility. It was also her choice whether she wanted my support or not.

“But whenever she wants and whenever she will, or she may not as she is a very self respecting person, but I’m available for help. I walked out of the house with some books and clothes. Now, we are the best of friends because of this understanding,” he said. 

(This report has been published as part of an auto-generated syndicated wire feed. Except for the headline, the content has not been modified or edited by ABP LIVE.)

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