Javed Akhtar's lineage can be traced back to seven generations of famous Urdu poets, writers and freedom fighters. His father, renowned Urdu poet Jan Nisar Akhtar, mother famous Urdu writer Safia Akhtar and uncle, noted Urdu poet Majaaz were amongst the pioneers of the Progressive Writers Association.
Javed Akhtar's great grandfather, Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi was exiled to Andaman Islands by the British for taking part in the 1857 uprising. His uncle, Ansar Harwani, was the youngest member of the Congress Working Committee in 1939 and was jailed for 10 years by the British. He was a twice elected Member of Parliament of the Congress Party.
Javed Akhtar’s body of work can be categorized under three distinct categories:
a) Script Writer b) Lyricist c) Poet d)Activist
He has co-authored super hit hindi films like, 'Zanjeer', 'Deewar', 'Sholay', 'Trishul', etc. He has also written successful films like 'Sagar', 'Mr. India', 'Betaab', 'Arjun', 'Lakshya'.
A recent survey conducted by Times of India in 38 cities reveals that 3 out of the 4 most popular hindi film dialogues (since the inception of Talkie Films in 1933) are from his films - 'Sholay' (Kitne Aadmi The), 'Deewar' (Mere Pas Maa Hai) & 'Mr. India' (Mogambo Khush Hua).
Harvard University - Keynote speaker on Secular element in Urdu poetry.
Columbia University - Keynote speaker on Social Justice and Communal Harmony.
University of Mary Land - Keynote speaker on Forces to counter fundamentalism.
Berkeley California - India Politics & Divisive Forces
University of London - Modern Urdu Poetry
University of Cambridge - Indian Society, Indian Cinema
University of Oxford - Indian Cinema & New Icons.
London School of Economics - New icons in cinema in new socio - economic order.
National University Maynooth Ireland
Jawahar Lal Nehru University
Aligarh Muslim University
Vishwa Bharati University
Allahabad University Lucknow University
He has addressed Amnesty International & Equality Authority Government of Ireland on "The challenges of Islamophobhia" in May 2006.
His first collection of Urdu poetry 'Tarkash' is in its eleventh edition in Hindi, and seventh edition in Urdu. It has received rave reviews both as a book and as India's first audio book. According to a recent survey done by a publishers organization, 'Tarkash' is the most sold book of verses in the last 60 years.
Javed Akhtar has written a large number of poems against communalism, social injustice, National Integration and for Women's Rights. Ministry of Human Resource Development declared his song, beckoning the misguided youth to come forward and build the country, the National Anthem for Youth in 1995.
On the initiative of President Abdul Kalam, Javed Akhtar has written five poems on the Indian flag. These have been interpreted musically by Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Ustad Zakir Hussain, L Subramaniam and E Srinivas.
His books 'Talking Films' & 'Talking Songs' published by Oxford University Press have been hailed by film critics as the most definitive works on Indian Cinema.
He is a founder member of the respected Muslim Intelligentsia-a group that has been vocal against fundamentalism of all hues and seeks to lead the Muslims to concentrate on education and women's rights.
Javed Akhtar is the president of Muslims for Secular Democracy.( MFSD) which was formed after consultation with large numbers of organizations and intellectuals from all sections of society. MFSD takes a secular, liberal and progressive stand and it is heartening to note that MFSD has found support amongst both Teachers and Students Associations of Aligarh Muslim University. Chapters of MFSD have been launched in cities like Aligarh, Allahabad, Lucknow, Kanpur and Mumbai. It is an ongoing process.
He is an active member of 'Citizens for Justice and Peace'. CJP is an organization that has taken Gujarat government to court for the Gujarat carnage in 2000, and is providing relief and rehabilitation to the innocent victims on an ongoing basis.
India Today, has included Javed Akhtar's name in the list of 50 Most Powerful people in the Country.
Javed Akhtar is an avid reader with a keen interest in politics. His poetry reflects both his political awareness and his literary concerns.
He is married to Shabana Azmi, India's most respected actress and social activist and former Member of Parliament.