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Javed Akhtar at the Jashn-E-Javed Akhtar event on December 9, 2021 Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

On the night of December 9, audiences celebrated Indian poet Javed Akhtar at an evening dubbed ‘Jashn-E-Javed Akhtar’ at the Sheikh Rashid Auditorium in Dubai.

The evening kicked off with Dastangoi— an Urdu style of tale narration that harks back to the 13th century. It entwines poetry, drama and narration in a way that requires great skill, so it was perfectly executed by the man of the evening, narrator Syed Sahil Agha, for Akhtar.

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The acclaimed lyricist was give a lifetime achievement award at the event. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

This was his night. It was an event that honoured Akhtar’s genius by giving him a lifetime achievement award and he accepted it by serenading his fans once again with his words.

The mushaira — a poetic symposium — saw the coming together of 12 poets from across India and Pakistan, who took us on an emotional journey with their eclectic mix of poetry, ghazals and storytelling.

But Akhtar, who was also celebrating his 37th wedding anniversary with wife, actor and icon Shabana Azmi, was clearly the star of the night.

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Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

He took the stage and silence dawned. And he spoke… the relatable poem ‘Woh Kamra Yaad Aata Hai’ (I remember that room) from his collection ‘Tarkash’ (quiver full of arrows) is about relationships and how it can take over an entire home. In it, Akhtar uses each item of the room as metaphors for family members and the peace and happiness — or fear — they evoked in him in times of contemplation and reflection.

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The audience at the event. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

He spoke in Hindi dotted with simple Urdu, and took us on a journey. He recited some of his soulful nazms and ghazals (two genres of Urdu poetry, mostly rhyming verses) dealing with the journey of life. But this wasn’t a solemn affair — not by a long shot. He wowed the crowd between verses with funny anecdotes and witty dialogues that had the audience laughing through it all.

There are few people who had hold the attention of an audience through the better part of an hour by just speaking — it is the mark of a star. And that’s what we saw on December 9; a legend in action.