Synonymous with some of the most mellifluous and melodious lyrics and poetry in Hindi and Urdu, Javed Akhtar was born on January 17, 1945 in the erstwhile Gwalior State of Colonial India. His father was the legendary Bollywood lyricist and Urdu poet Jan Nisar Akhtar who was also a member of the Progressive Writers' Movement. His mother, Safia Akhtar was a singer, teacher, and writer. Javed Akhtar was named Jadoo Akhtar at birth; however he was officially named Javed Akhtar. He also inherits a familial legacy of seven generations in which there were prominent writers and poets. It is no wonder that the young Jadoo Akhtar turned into a multi-faceted personality as a poet, lyricist and scriptwriter. His maternal uncle was the famous Urdu poet Asrar ul Haq Majaz while his grandfather was Iftikhar Hussain Muztar Khairabadi, most famous for his poem ‘Main kis ke dil ka ghubar hun’. He is also related to the philosopher and poet, Maulana Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi who participated in the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.
Javed Akhtar grew up in Lucknow and Aligarh. He lost his mother while he was a child and he was sent to study in Colvin Taluqdar’s College in Lucknow. Then he moved to live with his maternal aunt, Hamida Salim in Aligarh. He studied at the Minto Circle in Aligarh and matriculated from the Aligarh Muslim University and he graduated from Saifiya College in Bhopal.
In 1964, Javed Akhtar moved to Mumbai and his tryst with Bollywood began. He was the scriptwriter for Yakeen which did not amount to any success. He formed a partnership with Salim Khan to work on the makings of Adhikar. G. P. Sippy's Sippy Films hired Salim-Javed to write the scripts for films such as: Andaz, Seeta Aur Geeta, Sholay and Don. He has also written a lot of poetry in Urdu outside the realms of Bollywood and a chunk of it has been published in Tarkash. He worked with his son Farhan Akhtar in movies such as Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya, Rock On! He worked with his daughter Zoya Akhtar in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.
In 1999, he was conferred the Padma Shri by the Government of India and in 2007, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan. He has won 14 Filmfare Awards: seven times for Best Script and eight times for Best Lyrics! He has also been a recipient of the National Award, Videocon Screen Award, Zee Award and Lux Zee Cine Award. He won the National Integration Award from the All India Anti-Terrorist Association and the Avadh Ratan from the Government of U.P. and the Hakim Khan Sur Sammaan Award from the Maharana Mewar Foundation, Udaipur. He is member of the advisory board of the Asian Academy of Film & Television.
Javed Akhtar is an atheist. He is married to film personality, Shabana Azmi.