- Shekhar Kapur said he felt "embrace of intellectuals like bite of snake"
- Comment seen as response to open letter to PM on religious intolerance
- Javed Akhtar said he appeared to "give a halo to right wing mindset"
Lyricist Javed Akhtar lashed out at his colleague from the film industry Shekhar Kapur on Sunday, attacking the filmmaker for saying that he was afraid of intellectuals who were like snakes and that he still felt like a refugee decades after the partition of India.
"Started life as refugee of Partition. Parents gave everything to make a life for kids. Was always in fear of 'intellectuals'. They made me feel insignicant. Small. Then suddenly embraced me after my films. I still fear them. Their embrace is like a bite of snake. Still a refugee (sic)," Mr Kapur, who has made widely acclaimed movies like Bandit Queen and Mr India, tweeted.
Though he did not spell out the context of his tweet, many Twitter users took the comment as a response to a group of prominent public figures speaking out this week in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on religious intolerance, mob attacks and the alleged weaponisation of the slogan "Jai Shri Ram" (Hail Lord Ram) into a "war cry".
Taking umbrage at the remark, Javed Akhtar fired three tweets, attacking Mr Kapur.
.who are these intellectuals who embraced you and you found that embrace like a snake's bite ? Shyam Benegal , Adoor Gopal Krishna , Ram chandra Guha ? Really ? . Shekhar saheb you are not well . You need help . Come on , there is no shame in meeting a good psychiatrist .— Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) July 28, 2019
What do you mean by still a refugee Does it mean that you feel like an outsider n not an Indian n you don't feel that this is your motherland .If in India you are still a refugee where will you not feel like a refugee ,In Pakistan? Cut this melodrama you poor rich but lonely guy— Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) July 28, 2019
You introduce yourself as neither prejudiced by the past nor afraid of the future living in this moment and in the same breath you say you are a refugee of partition and still a refugee . One doesn't need a magnifying glass to see the contradiction .— Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) July 28, 2019
In response to a Twitter user trying to defend Shekhar Kapur, Javed Akhtar explained what angered him: "It is all a fog of words to give a halo to a right wing mind set."
Shekhar Kapur issued just a single-line clarification to Javed Akhtar's outburst.
No. It means once you are a refugee, you feel a gypsy. https://t.co/AQcnWh6cx1— Shekhar Kapur (@shekharkapur) July 28, 2019
Shekhar Kapur frequently has voiced support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration while Javed Akhtar has been a vociferous critic of the government.
The letter to PM Modi on violence and intolerance by the 49 noted individuals such as filmmaker Aparna Sen and historian Ramachandra Guha on Wednesday had drawn a sharp response from 62 others three days later. In their letter, censor board chief Prasoon Joshi and actor Kangana Ranaut accused the group of "selective outrage, false narratives and a clear political bias".
Neither Javed Akhtar or Shekhar Kapur were signatories to either of the letters.