Writer, poet, lyricist and script-writer of countless hits, Javed Akhtar is a man of many seasons. He is outspoken about public issues, especially about religious fundamentalism, often attracting angry reactions from Hindus and Muslims alike.
Akhtar has been named as the winner of the Richard Dawkins Award, the first Indian to receive it. The citation reads it has been given for “critical thinking, holding religious dogma up to scrutiny, advancing human progress and humanist values,” which describes him well.
In an interview to Sidharth Bhatia of The Wire, Akhtar talks about religion in public life, communalism in the majority and the minority, the lack of empathy for migrant workers and also reads out his latest poem on the long walk home by countless Indians following the sudden lockdown.