Remembering Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s revolutionary poem

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Faiz’s most famous nazm (poem) got both the writer and the singer in trouble. The year was 1985. A packed auditorium in Lahore, with more than 50,000 in attendance. It’s the first death anniversary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

A woman dressed in a black saree – attire outlawed by Pakistani dictator Zia-ul-Haq – takes the stage and starts singing a nazm. There is immediate commotion in the crowd. By the time, the singer hits the crescendo, the restless audience is already incited to passions of rebellion.

Excited members join the rendition, the jampacked auditorium, with people sitting on stairs and near the gate, reverberates with chants of “Inquilab Zindabad” (long live the revolution!)

Action is swift. The lights are switched off; the microphone is disconnected. It’s pitch dark. But she doesn’t stop as if her life depends on it. Defying the authorities, the audience stands with the singer -singing with her till the poem ends. A riotous situation prevails.

The woman was none other than Iqbal Bano, one of the most beloved singers of Pakistan. The nazm was Hum Dekhenge, penned by the most celebrated and yet revolutionary poet of Pakistan – Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Read more

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