Javed Akhtar, with Salim, created what is probably India’s most enduring hero and anti-hero—the Angry Young Man, in the 1970s. Though he rarely writes scripts now, his last hero, Hrithik Roshan in
Lakshya, transmogrified from a wastrel contortionist dancer into a focused and patriotic soldier, fighting in Kargil. Most recently, he helped pick a new-age icon, as a judge, in the hit TV reality show
Fame Gurukul. Here Outlook asks the legendary scriptwriter and lyricist where all the heroes went. India’s favourite creator of heroes deconstructs heroes and the audiences that fete them and emulate them. He talks about the loss of ideals and the new materialism that is chipping away at the morality that holds up a hero in the spotlight.
Do you think present that the film heroes are less idealistic or angst-ridden and more conformist than when you started writing? Is that reflective of society now?
No, that’s not really true. When we started writing, heroes were very tradition-bound. Kartavya (duty) was more important than...