Raghib pays a heartfelt tribute to Rahat Indori (1950-2020)
Not many poets become famous enough to become a part of our day to day lives and even fewer are frequently quoted to mark protests or dissent in times of social upheaval. His poetic age spans almost five decades where he participated in hundreds of mushairas and wrote several lyrics for Hindi cinema. Indori is very often quoted on social media platforms. Interestingly, he also trended for a while on Twitter too. His couplets are used as placards in several protests in India while he was also quoted many a time in Indian Parliaments and speeches in the public gatherings. All these led to his public popularity, making Urdu poetry familiar to a wider range of audience who have less or no acquaintance to Urdu as a language.
This is an excerpt from the lectures of India’s first Minister of Education and well-known freedom fighter, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. This is part of a series of lectures that he delivered during the Khilafat movement (1919-1922) in India during the British Raj. This movement was one of the key developments in India’s struggle for freedom which brought Hindus and Muslims together on one political platform under the leadership of giants like Gandhi, Azad and the Ali Brothers.
He says his sister was killed by her husband three days ago. The couple had four children. It was a supposedly happy marriage. The husband’s fingers did not leave the wife’s neck. Not until there was any sign of breath left. It was for insurance money, he says.
This is how the conversation starts. He then closes the topic. Immediately.
He says his job is to tear away veils – “Mein benakab karta hun, sabko.” He says his characters are also ornamented with multiple disguises. And that it is the reader’s job to see through, for he trusts the latter’s intelligence. “And if they can’t decipher, how is it my fault?” he whispers, almost.
Pakistani poet and writer Ali Akbar Natiq, who shook the literary world with his enigmatic collection of short stories What Will You Give For This Beauty, published by Penguin Books India last year, insists it is unfair to underplay the cruelty and corruption of the poor.
As he constantly questions the cliché of rich man being evil personified, this 39-year-old author confides: “I have lived among the poorest. I have smelled their sweat. Don’t think it is sweet. I have never been rich, but have come across many kind souls in big mansions. Point is, I don’t slot people. It is a very unfair thing to do. A writer needs to show the complexities of his character, all his shades and hues. He does not have the right to pass judgment. Neither should he promise any redemption – to the character or the reader.” Read more
Setting out to make a film on the great Urdu writer, Nandita Das looks at his irrepressibility and his work: Scroll.in
I first read Manto in English when I was in college, and then a few years later I bought the Urdu collection Dastavez in Devanagari. I was struck by his simple yet profound narratives and his insightful capturing of people, politics and the times he lived in. He wrote as he saw, as he felt, without dilution, and with a rare sensitivity and empathy for his characters. Read more