JLF: Spat Between Akhtar, Kancha Ilaiah Over Religion

A tiff over religion was witnessed at the Jaipur Literature Festival between lyricist and scriptwriter Javed Akhtar and author Kancha Ilaiah today.

While addressing an audience on the session titled "God as a Political Philospoher: Dalit Perspectives on Buddhism," Ilaiah was interrupted by Akhtar, who said that he was an atheist and no religion gave equality to women and weaker sections.

"Discussing religion was like discussing which cave would be better to live. If you want to follow a religion, follow any religion. It doesn't matter. If you decide to commit suicide, does it matter how you do it?" Akhtar said.

To which, Ilaiah promptly replied, "Real life is not like cinema, certainly not Hindi cinema. Crores of Buddhists in India have more knowledge than intellectuals."

Moderator Patrick French had to wind up the session as the situation in the gathering got tense.

Akhtar, who was to address the following session, then took the stage and said "All religious values should be based on justice and equality."

Speaking to reporters soon afterwards, Ilaiah asserted, "What he (Akhtar) said was bad. He can be an atheist but the rest of world cannot be atheist."

He also went on to say that "All (film) superstars are superstitious." 

Countering Ilaiah's stand on the difference between movies and reality, Akhtar later said, "If you watch cinema, it tells you a lot about life. Indians worship films."

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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