Lucknow gets a chance to enjoy poetry on the move

It’s still not uncommon to run into people who lovingly recount the days when the city reflected its famed manners and its equally well entrenched secular ethos

lucknow Updated: Mar 04, 2018 23:13 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Lucknow,poetry,Amaresh Mishra
A couplet written on an e-rickshaw as it moves in front of Imambada in Lucknow. (HT Photo)

A Lucknow-based historian Amaresh Mishra, along with a few like-minded individuals like Dr Sandeep Kumar, have launched ‘Tehreek-e-Lucknow’, an initiative aimed at making people familiar with lesser known poetry and aspects of the City of Nawabs.

On Mishra’s backing, volunteers of the 1857 Nationalist Forum and the Lucknow Film Club have begun pasting choicest couplets and, in some cases, even film dialogues about the city on e-rickshaws. About a thousand e-rickshaws have poems pasted already and the initiative is aimed at putting up nearly 5,000 couplets on as many rickshaws.

“The idea is to revive the sher-o-shairi (poetry) that Lucknow was once famous for. This was a city of pehle-aap. Alas! All that is largely forgotten today and so here we are with what we would like to call as the little-big effort,” says Mishra, the writer of the Saif Ali Khan starrer Bullet Raja.

But why paste these poetic gems on e-rickshaws? “So that even those short on time could enjoy poetry on the move,” he says.

One of the e-rickshaws was seen carrying a verse by Maulana Hasrat Mohani who, before his death in 1951, had once famously written thus: “Har Hindu ka mazboot hai ji, Geeta ki yeh baat hai dil pe likhi (Every Hindu is strong-willed; This maxim of the Gita is etched on the heart).”

From Mirza Mohammad Hadi ‘Aziz’ to Syed Ali Naqi Zaidi, Saeed Ahmad ‘Natiq’ to Asrar-ul-Haq ‘Majaz’, Anand Narain ‘Mulla’ to Muztar Khairabadi, Rind Lakhnavi, Macchis Lakhnavi – the ‘Tehreek-e-Lucknow’ initiative would feature poetic gems from some forgotten names of Lucknow.

It’s still not uncommon to run into people who lovingly recount the days when the city reflected its famed manners and its equally well entrenched secular ethos.

About a thousand e-rickshaws have poems pasted already (HT Photo)

Savour these lines from Yaas Yagaana Changezi, a Patna-born poet: ‘Kashish-e-Lucknow arrey tauba; phir vahi hum, vahi Aminabaad (The charm of Lucknow...dear me! Same old me, same old Aminabad)’

Changezi penned this verse on Lucknow before his death here in 1956. “Takra kar dekho hum kya hain tum kya; jeete jo jeete, haare to haare

(Fight a duel with me to know how we compare; be the consequence victory or defeat).” That’s Changezi again.

The city’s Munshi Bisheshwar Prasad, who chose ‘Munawwar’ as his pen name and became properly known as ‘Munawwar Lakhnavi’, had penned a verse that explains how Hindus and Muslims of the state capital bonded.

Munawwar, who was well versed in Sanskrit, Persian and Hindi, wrote poetry that was easily distinguishable.

“Lucknow ka aalam-e-khaas dekhiye, Urdu mein Geeta ka paath dekhiye (Behold the sublime style of Lucknow, Listen to The Gita recited in Urdu)” is one of the verses by Munawwar that captured the spirit of those times brilliantly.

The poets are gone now but their creations remain. Take this from gem from Krishan Bihari Noor. “Sach ghate ya badhe to sach na rahe/Jhoot ki koi intiha hi nahi (Truth will not remain truth if it deviates, lie isn’t bound by such restrictions).”

It’s not just about poems. For the initiative is also aimed at showcasing how the city put up a fight, sans abuses, back-stabbing and shields! The friendly duels were fought with full aristocratic decorum by ‘Bankes’ as the fighters were known. “One of the famous Lakhnavi poet Atish was a Banke,” Mishra says.

First Published: Mar 04, 2018 23:13 IST