‘Urdu hai iska naam, sabhi jaante hain Dagh, Saare jahan mein dhoom hamari zuban ki hai…” exclaims acclaimed poet Dagh Dehlavi, as a salutation to the vernacular elegance, lyrical lucidity and literary prominence of the Urdu language, which has sadly lost some of its sheen.
Prominent poets from India and Pakistan shared their views with HT City on the promotion of literary arts in India and Pakistan, especially that of Urdu, at an international poetical symposium, Karvan-e-Adab. Organised by HIFA (Haryana Institute of Fine Arts) in Ambala on Sunday, the event revived the city’s romance with Indo-Pak Mushairas, a 14-year-old tradition. Excerpts from interactions with some of the poets:
Gopal Das Neeraj, Aligarh
Credited with penning 30 books and haunting lyrical gems for Hindi films, including evergreen songs such as Ae Bhai Zara Dekh ke Chalo, Carvaan Guzar Gya, Rangeela Re and many others, is veteran academician, Bollywood lyricist and poet, Dr Gopal Das Neeraj.
As the 88-year-old observed, “Waqt ke saath sab kuchh badlta hai..” (Everything changes with time), he added, “As I said, change is inevitable in the lyrical content and style of film songs. Having failed to compromise, I withdrew but not before creating records. After the death of music directors such as Roshan, Shankar Jaikishan and RD Burman, who needed a literary touch in their compositions, established authors such as Indiver, Majrooh and myself had to pave the way for songs like Munni Badnam Hui. In any case, good poetry must represent the sentiments and realities of the common man. And, Urdu still remains the best language of literature.”
Kishwar Naheed, Pakistan
As a woman who fought to be educated in a newly formed Pakistan, Naheed built her talent for writing slowly but steadily. A former bureaucrat and a rightfully decorated poet from Pakistan, Naheed maintains there is an imperative need to hold meetings and exchange of views by artists, writers, film personalities and sportspersons of both India and Pakistan to achieve peace and prosperity, just as there are held political dialogues by governments of both countries.
“It is imperative to relax visa rules for the artists, which otherwise poses as a hindrance. People in both countries are turning to western culture; believe me, my maid was too desperate to ensure that her daughter studies in an English medium school. However, there is a change taking place, and slowly people will return to their roots, to Urdu language and to literature. The cultural nuances will retain their glory,” she opined, while adding a couplet, “Meri aankhon mein darya jhoolta hai, aur ye paani kinara dhoondta hai.”
Munawwar Rana, Kolkata
Undeniably, Kolkata-based popular author and poet, Munawwar Rana, has been a leading voice for the propagation of literature and other classical arts through special TV channels. Having written 24 books in Hindi and Bangla, Rana has also given a new dimension to ghazals by sculpting touching poetic couplets that eulogise motherhood, though the genre is otherwise preferred by lovers to interact in. Rana lamented that the Urdu language, with a rich treatise of literature, had been limited to only mushairas and films.
Farhat Ali Shahzad, US
Based in New Jersey, US, Farhat Ali Shahzad is an internationally renowned ghazal writer whose lyrics have been immortalised by Ustad Mehdi Hassan and Jagjit Singh in their albums. Born and educated in Pakistan, Shahzad’s ancestors belong to Kaithal in Haryana.
Observing that the preservation and promotion of any language is directly related to its use for employment by the present generation, he said, “I am sure that if one were to rely on one’s education and poetic potentiality in Urdu, he can’t survive in both the countries. Based on my experience, I feel there should be more visa relaxations for cultural exchange programmes in India, as artists from all corners of the world love to visit India which gives them due honour.
At the conclusion, the poets from India and Pakistan expressed their gratitude to HIFA and its director Dr Piyush Kumar, for the endeavour.