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For a better verse

An artist in words, wisdom, imagery, expression and above all, an epitome of humanism, poet and lyricist Padma Shri Nida Fazli has been shining on the literary firmament since the last six decades. Credited with 24 books of poetry including many National Award winning ones such as Mor Naach, Khoya Hua Sa Kuch and Lafzon Ke Phool amongst others, Fazli has written scores of lyrics and ghazals with a majestic sweep of thought and sincere intention.

brunch Updated: Aug 25, 2013 10:24 IST
SD Sharma

An artist in words, wisdom, imagery, expression and above all, an epitome of humanism, poet and lyricist Padma Shri Nida Fazli has been shining on the literary firmament since the last six decades. Credited with 24 books of poetry including many National Award winning ones such as Mor Naach, Khoya Hua Sa Kuch and Lafzon Ke Phool amongst others, Fazli has written scores of lyrics and ghazals with a majestic sweep of thought and sincere intention.


Credited for rejuvenating the lost glory of dohaas, that too with a modern sensibility, most of Fazli’s lyrical gems were immortalised by the legendary ghazal singer late Jagjit Singh and other playback singers of the Hindi film world. In the city recently on the invitation of the Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi, Fazli shared his views on diverse subjects with HT City.

“Poetry is a consecrated art in itself, and certainly no cure for evils or injustice. But, a writer must act against injustice of all kinds in the society or government and not stay content with writing poetry of blissful jubilation,” feels the poet, pausing to ask, “How many of us have dared to protest and condemn the pre and post-Independence Holocaust, the Godhra riots, the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and other ghastly inhuman injustices?”

Fazli further offers, “The centuries old Indian spiritual and cultural heritage enriched by the wisdom of our great saints, sages and seers has been a lighthouse of knowledge to the world. That wisdom does not permit heinous acts of rape and torture of women, who have been extolled as goddesses—such as Durga and Shakti—in our epics and scriptures.”

On his expertise in language and literature, especially ghazal writing, which is his first passion, Fazli says the writings are beyond the barriers of language and borders. “Hindi and Urdu languages are basically one, with the difference in the script, which is influenced by either Sanskrit or Persian. The real language of India is neither Hindi nor Urdu, it is Hindustani, that represents the composite culture of the country,” Fazli observes.

When it comes to ghazals, Fazli has strong opinions. “The Urdu script was forced down on the Muslims on political grounds by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who incidentally did not know much Urdu himself. Anyway, ghazals came to India via Iran, through the mystic Amir Khusro who sculpted Sufiana ghazals in the then Hindustani language, in words such as ‘Khusro raen suhag ki bhayi piu ke sangg, mann mora tan piu ka dono bhye ikk rang’,” quotes Fazli, who names Baba Farid, Hazrat Amir Khusro and Kabir as the inspirations for his literary creations.

However, the present day scenario of ghazal writing and singing perturbs Fazli. “The scenario has been sickening after the death of the pioneer of modern ghazals [refers to Jagjit Singh]. Not that Jagjit was my friend, but he was an educated person with insight into poetry, well versed in Urdu script and a trained classical maestro who could bring alive the intent and essence of the kalaams with perfection,” says the poet, while recalling some incidents.

“Jagjit offered to record my ghazal, ‘Duniyan jise kehte hain…’ immediately after reading it from a magazine. Once, an established music director tried two singers to record another of my ghazals, ‘Hosh waalon ko khabar...’ [which became a popular number and was included in the film Sarfarosh], but I was not satisfied with them and managed to make Jagjit listen to the recording on phone. He agreed to sing, but only his own composition. Then, another time, I wrote: “Jagjit Singh ki awaaz khuda ki nehmat hai’, and he immediately asked me to add: “Iski hifazat insaan (Jagjit Singh) ki mehnat hai,” laughs Fazli.