The letter skirmish between the ‘liberals’ and the ‘Right Wing’ is far from over. It has spilled over into personal domain with the lyricist Javed Akhtar and filmmaker Shekhar Kapur picking up the strands and engaging in a public feud.
It started with Akhtar taking umbrage at a tweet of Kapur and advised him to visit a psychiatrist (There is ‘‘no shame in it’’). Kapur had put out a tweet which seemed to be a throwback to the partition and how refugees from West Pakistan had struggled to raise their children.
Then, the tweet went off the tangent and Kapur added a loaded political comment – That, he lived perpetually in "fear of 'intellectuals.'Kapur wrote, "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 insignificant. Small. Then suddenly they embraced me after my films. I still fear them. Their embrace is like a bite of snake. Still a refugee."
An outspoken Akhtar took offence and poured his heart out in a scathing series of tweets, "Who are these intellectuals who embraced you and you found that their embrace was 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."
Leaving no doubt that he would not let this one go, Akhtar added: "What do you mean by still a refugee? Does it mean that you feel like an outsider and not an Indian and 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,
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," was his last tweet.
Not many know that Kapur was born in Lahore. In fact, he was on a train that brought them from the newly carved out Pakistan to India; during the bloodletting on both sides, Kapur's mother played dead and hid both himself and his sister under her body. Reflecting on this, Kapur stated that the partition happened through "the blood of one people".
Kapur – a nephew of Dev Anand – is mostly known for his outpourings on the screen, handled with a subtle finesse. But he was being anything but subtle when he made a rather profound statement on Saturday:
That Modi had taken the power away from the feudal class and handed it over to the people. This was "the first democratic revolution," according to Kapur.
The only person who can possibly broker truce between the two is Shabana Azmi: she and Kapur had dated for seven years before they broke up. But despite the break-up, their association as colleagues continued, as borne out by movie Masoom.
Kapur is the nephew of Dev Anand, who had a passionate love affair with legendary Pakistani actress Suraiya.