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4 Responses to “Javed Akhtar on film music at the Jaipur Literature Festival”
I am not sure about imposing or following “current” morality on people. Homosexuality was crime some 50 years ago but not now. I think anything which is not “normal” should be viewed by adults and let them form an opinion on subject. So Choli ke peeche was fine but who should see it could be decided by censors but unfortunately they don’t act as good regulating body.
Javed Akhtar is off base on that anyway. It’s a folk song with more or less those raunchy lyrics. And folk music often has this quality. So it’s very much a part of ‘tradition’. But of course as we know and not just from the Indian example that a higher order, formal aesthetics always frown on folk elements beyond a point. Because the latter is often considered not refined enough, not polite enough and so on. Even as Javed Akhtar wishes to celebrate ‘values’ he forgets that this too is an equal part of the tradition. of course his complaint is problematic anyway. As he long as he sticks to aesthetic categories no one could disagree with his argument. We can’t say that once we had Lata and Rafi and Kishore and whoever and today we have.. well, the awful stuff we do!.. and that it’s a matter of changing trends. Clearly something decisive has happened and that entire great tradition of Bombay film music has been lost (one could say the same for cinema.. which doesn’t mean that good movies are not made today.. but these have almost nothing to do with the singularity of that older and larger tradition). But when a moral position is introduced well in those days people must have protested much that Javed Akhtar was responsible for. For example people routinely felt that Amitabh Bachchan’s cinema was part of the general degradation of values or that his violence encouraged certain tendencies. I am never persuaded by morality talk in these matters. When cabaret songs appeared many of the previous generation must have frowned on them. But the aesthetic argument is certainly a fair one because here it is always possible to make judgments. And here it’s simply not enough to say as many defenders do today that times are different and that tastes change and so on. No one expects otherwise but it does not follow that those new trends and tastes cannot give rise to equally strong works. We don’t say about Shakespeare that times have changed. We recognize all the talents that have followed in theater since but we also say no one has been able to match his achievement.