Naseeruddin Shah takes in a long whiff of the deep red rose in his hands, and out of that sweet suffusion flows shayari that woos Madhuri Dixit and all the ­people who’ve watched Dedh Ishqiya. Some words evoke wonderment … Uns, Mohabbat, Aqeedat, Ibadat … and there’s much more Urdu floating in the air these days.
Whether it’s at the recently-­concluded World Book Fair with its thousands of proud Urdu ­translations and audio-stories, new series of old-world poetry ­sessions at popular ­cultural places, or the many fresh Sufi ­performances in music, dance and drama, the ­language has smitten the city in what looks like a popular revival of the era that was sepia.
Author Rakhshanda Jalil, whose new series of Urdu cultural events at The Attic in Connaught Place, has the speaker talk about how a particular poet like Faiz Ahmad Faiz or Sahir Ludhianvi has ­influenced them in a way, believes Hindustani is the next big thing. The series, called Hindustani Awaaz, ­comprises poetry recitation, dramatic plays and ­theatrical readings. “The purpose was to make a space for Hindustani, which is a nice mix of Hindi and Urdu. The idea was to ­create a space for people who are not inclined towards a particular ­language and its politics. Urdu needs to be pulled out from the akhadas (camp ­mentality),” says Jalil.
She is glad that the series, and more events such as these, are ­pulling in crowds without having to shout from the rooftops. “Why do you need ­posters and hoardings? I get a ­dedicated audience and they come because they’re willing,” she says.
And the folk she refers to isn’t your good old grey-haired audience, but young, new-age culture junkies who are fans of the language.
Abhinav Sabyasachi, a Delhi-based theatre ­artist, feels that even though there are plays on changing Muslim society, there is space for Urdu plays. “In the recent years, the Delhi ­theatre circuit has started doing a lot of Urdu plays. After ­successfully ­celebrating 100 years of Manto and Faiz, the young directors are ­exploring more Urdu writers and playwrights like Premchand, Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, Ismat Chughtai and Krishan Chander. Also, we see a lot of people taking interest in Dastangoi, which is a clear ­indication that ­people ­understand and love the Urdu ­language,” he says.