Javed Akhtar is a poet, lyricist and scriptwriter from India. Some of his most successful work was done in the late 1970s and 1980s with Salim Khan as half of the script-writing duo credited as Salim-Javed. Akhtar continues to be a prominent figure in Bollywood and is one of the most popular and sought-after lyricists.
He was born as Jadoo Akhtar in Gwalior, (Madhya Pradesh) to Jan Nisar Akhtar, a Bollywood film songwriter and Urdu poet, and singer Safia Akhtar, a teacher and writer. His original name was Jadoo, taken from a line in a poem written by his father: "Lamba, lamba kisi jadoo ka fasana hoga". He was given the official name of Javed since it was the closest to the word jadoo. Amongst his family members who are poets are the Urdu poet Majaz (maternal uncle), and his grandfather, Muztar Khairabadi, and Maulana Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, a noted philosopher, poet and religious scholar of the nineteenth century. Akhtar's younger brother, Salman Akhtar, is a psychoanalyst practicing in the United States.
Having lost his mother while very young, Akhtar's early years were spent in Lucknow, Aligarh and Mumbai, mostly with relatives. He studied in Colvin Taluqdars' College in Lucknow and the Minto Circle where he completed his matriculation from Aligarh Muslim University. After matriculation, Akhtar acquired a B.A. from Saifiya College in Bhopal. A gifted debater in college, he won the Rotary Club Prize frequently.
Akhtar arrived in Mumbai on 4 October 1964. In his early years living in Mumbai, he managed to write the dialogue for a minor film for Rs. 100. Occasionally, he used to work as an assistant. He got a job as a scriptwriter on Yakeen which flopped. Akhtar then joined with his friend Salim Khan to develop the story for Adhikar. Salim-Javed were hired by G. P. Sippy's Sippy Films as resident screenwriters and produced the screenplays for successful films like Andaz, Seeta Aur Geeta, Sholay and Don.
Akhtar used to write his scripts in Urdu, which were then written out in Hindi by his assistant. Another assistant would type out a one line summary in English. His association with Salim Khan lasted until 1980. After this Akhtar wrote some scripts on his own, but mostly moved into writing lyrics for films, in which he achieved success.
Akhtar has also attempted more serious Urdu poetry aside from writing lyrics for movies. A major set of his works were compiled in Tarkash, which was also rendered into audio in his voice. Singers such as late Jagjit Singh and late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan have sung some of his non-movie poetry.
Javed Akhtar was also a judge alongside Anu Malik, Kailash Kher and Sonali Bendre on India's singer hunt Indian Idol 4. He is also on the advisory board of the Asian Academy of Film & Television.