Thursday, September 20, 2018

With Love for Urdu Lovers

By Raza Elahi

Urdu lovers are recently enriched with two new books:

Shahryar: A Life in Poetry by Rakhshanda Jalil &

Beloved Delhi: A Mughal City and Her Greatest Poets by Saif Mahmood

Rakhshanda Jalil has meticulously evaluated Shahryar's (1936-2012) work in the light of the two major literary movements that shaped his poetic sensibility -- the Progressive Writers’ Movement and modernism. The book has included a selection of some of Shahryar’s best poems -- ghazals, nazms and film lyrics -- and their English translation done by her.

Phir kahin khwaab-o haqiqat ka tasadum hoga

Phir koi manzil-e benaam bulati hai hamein

(Once again, a conflict between dreams and reality will rage somewhere

Once again, some nameless destination calls out to me)

In his book, Beloved Delhi: A Mughal City and Her Greatest Poets, Saif Mahmood, has beautifully explained how Dilli became the city of poets, and of Urdu. He has brought out many tales of the Mughal court by telling them through the lens of the city’s best-loved Urdu poets -- Mirza Rafi Sauda, Khwaja Mir Dard, Mir Taqi Mir, Shaikh Mohammad Ibrahim Zauq, Momin Khan Momin, Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib and Nawab Mirza Khan Daagh Dehlvi.

Many of the later Mughal Emperors themselves were poets. Shah Alam II wrote under the takhallus “Aftab” and the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah, called himself “Zafar”.

Saif has presented fine works of these masters by perfectly blending the personal lives and personalities of these poets alongside the many tumultuous events that took place in Dilli city during that period.

Beloved Delhi: A Mughal City and Her Greatest Poets is published by Speaking Tiger Books, while Shahryar: A Life in Poetry is published by HarperCollins.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


By Raza Elahi

Appreciating the beauty and richness of Urdu language, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday that it symbolised the syncretic culture of India and all citizens should do something to ensure that it flourishes.

"It is a symbol of Ganga-Jamni tehzeeb (syncretic culture)... The presence of such eminent people in such large numbers is a proof that Urdu is living langauge. We all must do something for it," Singh said while addressing a gathering at the launch of senior Congress leader Ashwani Kumar's book 'Ehsas-o-Izhar' in the Capital.

"Hazaron jawabon se achchi hai khamoshi meri, na jaane kitne sawalon ki aabru rakhe. (My silence is better than a thousand answers, it keeps intact the honour of innumerable questions)," Singh recited the couplet in his short speech which drew applause from the audience.

'Ehsas-o-Izhar' is a handpicked collection of Urdu poetry in devnagri script. "My new book is an anthology of some of the finest verses in Urdu poetry. It reflects sensitivity that has kept alive the poet in me. It is a reflection of my own thoughts & deepest sentiments experienced in the different phases of my life," Kumar said.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Let's Celebrate Urdu at Jashn-e-Rekhta

By Raza Elahi

Wo Bolta hai Nigaahon se Is Qadar Urdu

Khamosh Rah ke Bhi Ahle-Zabaan sa Lagta hai

Celebrating the love for Urdu is always a beautiful feeling and when Jashn-e-Rekhta around the corner the love and the feeling become more satisfying.

Overwhelmed by the success of its previous editions, the three-day festival, starting December 8 in New Delhi, will once again spread the splendor of Urdu through panel discussions, mushairas, qawwalis, dastangoi, ghazals, dance, book exhibition, film screening, calligraphy and food festival

While an illustrious panel of Waheeda Rehman, Shabana Azmi, Muzaffar Ali and Ira Bhaskar, will talk about Depiction of Urdu Culture in Muslim Social Films, poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar will talk about literature, shayari and zindagi in his session, ‘Kuch Ishq Kiya, Kuch Kaam Kiya’.

Actor Amir Raza Hussain, theatre personality Danish Iqbal and ghazal singer Radhika Chopra will revisit renowned Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz in a session title Gulon Main Rang Bhare, Baad e Nau Bahar Chale.

The renowned Urdu Professor Gopi Chand Narang will celebrate Indian mythology in Urdu poetry and Pavan Kumar Verma. will talk about love for the great Ghalib.

Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Nandita Das will host a session ‘Manto ke Rubaru’ to share with audience what helped make the film Manto a reality.

Salīqe se havāoñ meñ jo ḳhushbū ghol sakte haiñ

Abhī kuchh log baaqī haiñ jo Urdu bol sakte haiñ

Prominent among those participating in this year Jashn-e-Rekhta are Imtiaz Ali, Shubha Mudgal, Shamim Hanfi, Shamshur Rahman Farouqi, Rahat Indori, Annu Kapoor and Ustad Rashid Ali Khan

The event will conclude on December 10 with a performance by the "Kun Faya Kun" fame Qawwali singers Nizami Bandhu

According to Sanjiv Saraf, founder of Rekhta Foundation, Jashn-e-Rekhta showcases how Urdu lends itself to various art forms be it literature, music, films, art, theatre, dance, or oral storytelling. The fourth edition of the festival will take place at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in Delhi to accommodate bigger crowd as footfalls of the event have risen from 20,000 in 2015 to about 1,40,000 in early 2017..

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


By Raza Elahi

Ye kaisa rumuuz-e-ishq hai

Tu duur hai par dil ke qareeb hai

Sochtaa hoon naama-bar ke har aahat par

Kya payaam-e-shauq mere nasib hai

Manzoor unka har maktuub mujhe

Par ye dam-e-intizaar kuch ajib hai

Khugar-e-qafas hoon jis tahriir ka

Nahiin uska koi ab khatiib hai

Nahiin ye takhta-e-mashq-e-sitam unka

Guman nahiin, ye mere yaqiin hai

Yaqiin to ye bhi aye Raza

Kahiin na kahiin, woh bhi qalb-e-muztarib hai

Ye kaisa rumuuz-e-ishq hai

Tu duur hai par dil ke qareeb hai


Meanings of Some Words Used Above:

Rumuuz-e-ishq = Secret of Love ; Duur = Far; Naama-bar = Messenger, postman; Payaam-e-shauq = Message of love; Maktuub = Letter, message; Khugar-e-qafas = Habituated to cage; Tahrir = Writings; Khatiib= Orator; Takhta-e-mashq-e-sitam = Act of tyranny; Qalb-e-muztarib = Restless heart

Monday, November 27, 2017

Not A Thorny Issue !

By Raza Elahi

Na jaane bagho.N se ye kaisi shanaasaaii hai

Har gul se teri ek ada yaad aayii hai

Ab ke patjhar bhi kuch ajab rang main aaya

Girte patto.N ne teri tasweer jo banaii hai

Kaanto.N ne bhi kuch nai sifat paii hai

Mujhko meri hi ek kahaani sunaii hai

Jab ke baarish main nikala tha chubha kaanta

Bhula nahi jo ab bhi, wo unke talvo.N ki raanaaii hai

Na jaane bagho.N se ye kaisi shanasaaii hai

Har gul se teri ek ada yaad aayii hai


Meanings of Some Words Used Above

Shanaasaaii = Acquaintance; Patto.N = Leaves; Sifat =Charachter; talvo.N = Sole; raanaaii= Beauty

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Water Woes in Digital India

By Raza Elahi

Today, a TOI report -- “Only one well, 150 years old, for 10,000 villagers” – reminds me of the couplets I had said around two years back:

Ajab haal main hai insaan wahan

Jumla-e-taraaqi hai sunai diya jahan

Computer wo mobile se jorne ka to hai iraada

Par ab bhi mayassar nahi hai paani wahan

Sab ke maan ki baat hai ye bayaan

Rotii choti wo daal mahengi hai wahaan

Mashguul aap sarko ke nye naam main yahan

Par ab bhi kaafi sarken hain viraan wahan


(Meaning of some difficult words used above:

Mayassar == available; Iraada == intention, desire; Bayaan == statement, declaration; Mashguul == engrossed, busy, engaged; Nye == new)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Delhiites Romance with Urdu at Jashn-e-Rekhta

By Raza Elahi

Kahin kuch door se kaanon mein padhti hai agar Urdu

To lagta hai ke din jaadon ke hain

khidki khuli hai, dhoop andar aa rahi hai...

For years poets, academicians, critics and artists are lamenting how Urdu, once a popular language of India, is vanishing away from popular discourse. But after seeing a huge crowd at the recently concluded Jashn-e-Rekhta and their eagerness towards this shireen (sweet) language, it can be said that Urdu has got a kiss of life. Now, many feel there is a resurgence of Urdu, especially among what are commonly known as non-Urdu wallahs.

When Rekhta foundation first started the Urdu fest in New Delhi in 2015, it had expected 2,000-3,000 people, but a little over 18,000 people turned up. That number went up by five times last year, reaching to 85,000. This year the turnout at the fest got even bigger as the foundation showcased the rich literary and cultural heritage of the language through panel discussions, mushaira, qawwali, dastangoi, ghazals, baitbaazi, book exhibition and calligraphy workshop etc.

While inaugurating the fest (on February 17) Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan said, “Urdu is not restricted to any particular religion. It is Hindustan’s language. And I pray to God that the entire world should feel its beauty, its romance, and may it flourish more and more.”

“Religion had nothing to do with Urdu and Hindi in the past. Christopher King did a survey which tells that in 1879 the circulation of Urdu newspapers were eight times than those of Hindi papers in India. Everyone... Hindu, Muslim or Punjabi were well-versed in Urdu. This proves the fact that religion had got nothing to do with it then,” renowned historian Irfan Habib said at a session Dilli Jo Ek Shahr Tha at the festival.

Talking about his love for Urdu, famous lyricist poet Gulzar noted that it is the only language that is capable of turning strangers into friends. He recited:

Ajab hai yeh zabaan, Urdu

Kabhi yunhi safar karte agar koi musafir sher padh de Meer, Ghalib ka

Woh chahe ajnabi ho, yahi lagta hai woh mere watan ka hai

Badi shaista lehje mein kisi se Urdu sun kar

Kya nahi lagta ke ek tehzeeb ki awaaz hai, Urdu

Gulzar, however, felt the need of preserving Urdu script. “While Urdu is expanding its reach, I feel the Urdu script is shrinking and losing its place. And we need to support and preserve it now,” he said.

Talking about the power of expression of Urdu as a language at a session titled Urdu ka Adaalati Lehja, former chief justice T S Thakur said if a picture is worth a thousand words, a couplet in the language is worth “two thousand words.”