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.