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
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
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."