Wo shakhs mohazzab hai jisko yeh zabaan aayi” -- Ravish Siddiqi
To regain some of the lost glory of Urdu, the lovers of the language organized a lot of activities in Delhi in 2016. The city, once a hub of Urdu during the Mughal era, witnessed Jashn-e-Rekhta, Jashn-e-Adab, World Urdu Conference, various saminars, dramas and mushairas (poetry recitation) etc. this year.
The love for the language, kept the audience glued to their seats in all these programmes, featuring some of the country’s most distinguished Urdu litterateurs, poets, critics, journalists, lyricists, ghazal singers, dastangos (story-tellers) and qawwals etc. The most heartening was the attendance of youths in those programmes which showed their liking for this beautiful language.
In the first week of February, National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) organized three-day World Urdu conference titled, “Two Hundred Years of Urdu Journalism: Past, Present and Future Prospects” at Delhi University. It saw paper presentations from Urdu scholars from India and abroad. Cultural activities, including Mushaira and play Main Urdu Hun, were also be part of the event.
Kamna Prasad, Urdu activist and the founder of the Jashn-e-Bahar Trust, invited a galaxy of Urdu poets like Dr Pirzada Qasim, Amjad Islam Amjad and Abbas Tabish from Pakistan, Farhat Shahzad from USA; Zamin Jafri from Canada and Dr Zubair Farooq from the UAE for annual Jashn-e-Bahar mushaira on a breezy early February evening at DPS, Mathura Road. Famous Indian poets Waseem Barelvi, Popular Meeruthi, Aalok Shrivastav and Farhat Ehsaas also made their presence felt with their meaningful poetry at the event
While Shrivastav said, “Ye sochna galat hai ke tum par nazar nahin; Masroof hum bahut hain, magar be-khabar nahin”, Barelvi recited, “Woh mere chhere tak apni nafratein laya to tha; Maine uske haath chume aur bebas kar diya.”
In its efforts to keep Urdu vibrant among the public, Rekhta Foundation headed by industrialist Sanjiv Saraf, hosted three-day Jashn-e-Rekhta in mid-February. “No other language can match the sweetness and glory of Urdu that I consider to be the language of love, romance, sophistication and culture. Let me concede that Delhi’s tehzeeb (culture) is Urdu tehzeeb,” said Sanjiv Saraf, on the occasion.
In one of the sessions “Yeh Kaisa Ishq Hai Urdu Zabaan Se”, famous lyricist and poet Gulzar said, “Urdu faqiri mein bhi aristocracy ka mazaa deti hai.” He spoke about the nuances of the language and Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb. He recited one of his popular nazms, “Kitaabein", which points to how we seem to have “broken up” with books and how our daily life is slowly losing charm in the wake of digitalisation:
“Jo shaamein unki sohbat mein kata karti thi'n,
Ab aksar guzar jaati hain computer ke pardo'n par...
Kitabein maangne, girne, uthane ke bahaane,
Jo rishte bante the ab unka kya hoga.”
The jashn saw over 100 poets, litterateurs, novelists, journalists, critics, actors, artists and lyricists from India and Pakistan. It included sessions on luminaries of Urdu language like Mirza Ghalib, Sadat Hassan Manto, Kaifi Azmi, Akhtarul Iman etc. Prominent among those participated at the jashn were Gopi Chand Narang, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Gulzar, Shamim Hanafi, Tom Altar, Nandita Das, Imtiyaaz Ali, Anwar Masood and Abbas Tabish. etc.
Plays like Ghalib ke Khatoot, Dara Shikoh, Kaifi aur Main were presented amid huge applause. Students could be seen in huge numbers at the grand mushaira, qawwali, ghazal singing and baitbaazi (verse competition) which were part of the event.
In March, many renowned Urdu poets from India, Pakistan and US like Pirzada Qasim (Karachi), Farhat Shahzad (USA), Javed Akhtar, Waseem Barelvi, Iqbal Ashhar, Dr. Gauhar Raza, Nawaz Deobandi , Dr. Malikzada Manzoor Ahmad and Bekal Utsahi graced the poetic evening at Modern School, Barakhamba Road, for Shankar-Shad Mushaira. Akhtar stole the limelight with his nazm, Ye Khel Kya hai.
Ghazal Ka Safar, an evening that enthralled and left the listeners with a greater appreciation and insight into the beautiful but difficult art of the ghazal, was also organized in the same month at India Habitat Centre.
The city witnessed Delhi Urdu Academy's Mushaira-e-Yaum-e-Jamhuriya in February and Drama Festival in November. This year Saeed Alam’s Pierrot's Troupe held many shows like Ghalib and Lal Qila Ka Aakhri Mushaira at different auditoriums in Delhi-NCR for Urdu lovers. Jashn-E-Qalam, a platform that marries the tradition of storytelling with literature, in Mumbai two years ago, showcased Saadat Hasan Manto’s Padhiye Kalma, Rajinder Singh Bedi’s Chechak Ke Daag and some others at south Delhi’s GreenR Café in July.
Rekhta Foundation held Shaam-e-Sher in November to celebrate romantic poetry and the music of Akhtar Shirani. Danish Iqbal, Salima Raza and Asma presented a theatrical performance where they combined his work with music and anecdotes from his life.
Jashn-e-Adab festival, which was held at India International Centre on December 10-11, saw discussions on the influence of Urdu on Hindi cinema, Urdu and university culture, and the tradition of adab (respect). A mushaira, featuring Javed Akhtar, Farhat Ehsaas, Khushbir Singh Shaad and others, enthralled the audience where Akhtar recited his new composition, Naya Hukumnama.
There were also a recitation of Mirza Ghalib’s poetry by actor Tom Alter, performances by ghazal and sufi singer Kavita Seth and dastagoi by Darain Shahidi at the festival.
In December, Ghalib Institute organised a mushaira and a play Budh Ghalib.
The Urdu world, however, got many shocks in 2016. The year saw the demise of famous poets Nida Fazli, Dr. Malikzada Manzoor Ahmad and Bekal Utsahi.