Category Archives: Javed akhtar


I always thought that scenes in the movies when the protagonists stood looking over themselves, was a little far fetched till I found myself in that very same balcony where it all started.
 There I was looking at myself
….at the scene when we sat there making plans, giving final touches to the plan that was not just a business plan but a vision of the future filled with gumption, hope and whole lot of energy. A scene where we sat arguing about little nuances and epic dreams.
…at the same spot on the balcony where I talked about creating presentations with only visuals that resonated with words in our heads.
…at the scene where we looked at holiday pictures eating coconut cream natural ice cream.
….at the place where we shared stories of success, of small impacts created, reaffirmed plans, and  exchanges anecdotes filled with histrionics.
…at the same balcony where the first thought of moving along was said aloud. The thought of an alternative with no judgments was whispered into the air.
….and where we shared homemade cake, drank red wine, remembered the bright orange fishes that died tragically and of the air gun that never found its prey.
…and where I returned with stories of new places,new people, new dreams and so many new possibilities.
…as I see us all huddled around thinking of a second helping, what remains ever so constant are eyes rapt in attention, words never harsh or presumptuous and a presence of acceptance and genuine care.
It wasn’t my last evening on that balcony,  coz I will return to it, armed with a bag full of stories to fill the cold evening breeze and fill my bowl with the second helping of dessert on offer yet again.
To moving away and the echoes of wandering…..


BANJARA by Javed Akhtar


main banjara
waqt ke kitne shaharo se gujra hun
waqt ke is shahar se jaate jaate
mudkar dekh raha hun
soch raha hun
tumse mera ye nata bhi toot raha hai
tumne mujhko chhoda tha jis shahar mein aake
wo shahar bhi mujhse chhoot raha hai

mujhko wida karne aaye hain
wo saare din
jinke kandhe per soti hai
ab bhi tere julf ki khushboo
wo saare lamhe
jinke maathe per hain raushan
ab bhi tumhare lams ka tika
nam aankho se
gumsum mujhko dekh rahe hain
mujhko inke dukh ka pata hai
inko mere gham ki khabar hai
lekin mujhko hukme-safar
jana hoga
waqt ke agle sheher ab mujhe jana hoga

naye sheher ke sab din sab raatein
jo tumse nawaakif honge
wo kab meri baat sunenge
mujhse kahenge
jao apni rah lo rahi
hamko kitne kaam pade hain
jo biti so beet gayi
ab wo kyun dohrate ho
kandhe par jholi rakhe
kyun phirte ho kya paate ho

main bechara
ik banjara
awaara firte firte jab thak jaunga
tanhai ke teele per jakar baithunga
phir jaise pehchan ke mujhko
ik banjara jaan ke mujhko
waqt ke agle sheher ke
sare nanhe munne bhole lamhe
nange pao.n
bhage bhage aa jayenge
mujhko gher ke baithenge
aur mujhse kahenge kyun banjare
tum to waqt ke kitne shahro se gujre ho
un shehro ki koi kahani hame sunao.

Unse kahunga
nanhe lamho –
ek thhi rani….
sunke kahani
sare nanhe lamhe
ghamgeen lamhe mujhse ye poochhenge
tum kyun unke shahar na aayi
lekin unko behla lunga
unse kahunga ye mat poochho
aankhe mundo
aur ye socho
tum hoti to kaisa hota
tum ye kahti tum wo kahti
tum is baat pe hairaa.n hoti
tum is baat pe kitni hasti
tum hoti to aisa hota
tum hoti to waisa hota

dheere dheere
sare nanhe lamhe so jayenge
aur main haule se uthhkar
waqt ke agle shahr ke raste ho lunga
yahi kahani phir dohrane

tum hoti to aisa hota
tum hoti to waisa hota.

Translation by David Matthews
I, a banjara
Have passed so many cities of time.
As I pass through this city of time,
I turn, I look and think
That even this bond we share is breaking;
This time of city in which you came
Then left me, is also ebbing far away from me
All the people of the town have come to bid farewell to me.
All those days on whose shoulders sleeps
The pefume of your tresses even now.
All those moments on whose forehead shines
the mark of your soft hand even now, with tearful eyes
They look at me now numb and lost.
I understand their pain
They know the grief I feel but I am comanded to travel on
I must depart and go on to the next city of time.
Those who dwell in the next city of time
All those days and all those nights
Who do not know you will never listen to my words.
They will say to me:
Go traveller! Be on your Way!
See how busy we are.
What has passed has passed.
Why do you repeat yourself?
With you bag on your shoulder
Why do you roam, what do you gain?
I, a wretched fellow,
A banjara
Wander aimlessly and when I tire,
I shall go and sit on a mound of loneliness.
Then as if they recognise me
Knowing that I am a Banjara
From the next city of time
All the tiny simple moments will come
Barefoot hurrying and scurrying
And sit around me
And say
Tell us Banjara
How many cities of time have you passed through
Tell us the stories of those cities.
And I shall say
Little moments!
Once upon a time there was a queen…..
And after the story
All these little moments will be sad and ask me
Why you did not come to their city
But I shall console them and tell them
Do not ask, close your eyes and think
If you were here then what might be
If you said this,
If you said that,
You would have been amazed by this
How you would laughed to hear that
If you were here then this might be
If you were here then that might be
Softly, gently
All my little moments
Will fall asleep
And I,
Slowly getting up once more
Putting my bag of memories upon my shoulders
Will take the road again
And head towards the next city of time,
To explain my tiny moments
To console my innocent moments
To tell my story once again.
If you were here then this might be
If you were here then that might be.


Many years before I knew anything about poets or Urdu shayari, there was a song I loved and watched over and over whenever it played on Chitrahaar.

Tum inta joh muskura rahe ho….was simply haunting, clinging on to you even after it ended. In the voice of the iconic ghazal singer Jagjit Singh, the song was part of a movie far ahead of its time, Arth. It featured Shabana Azmi, daughter of the grand duke of Urdu Shaayari, Kaifi Azmi.


Over the last 4 years there have been many evenings spent scrolling through his collection of ghazals and poems. Whenever I wanted to write about powerful emotions, I knew there was a poem waiting for me in his works. Whether it was calling upon women to rise up in Aurat, or  citizens called upon to rebel in Jagaava, the depths of Kaifi Azmi’s voice brimming with fire took centre stage.

Unlike Gulzar and Javed Akhtar, his poetry is not simple often laden with those rich ancient urdu words that aren’t commonly used. He was a man from a different era, born on this day in 1919. Never thought as a poet by his family, he struggled to prove his mettle, even after becoming part of the Bollywood fraternity. His belief system deeply rooted in communism, seeped into his life and his works.

His poems pull at your strings, make you question your beliefs and demand that you take action. These passionate poems are alternated by deeply romantic renditions too. He describes love is so many forms, his love for the ocean or samandar immediately takes you the shoreline in Mumbai, as does Savere Savere to those early morning sunrises that paint the sky in magnificent hues. He often spoke of death too, like in these lines,

Maut lehrati thi sau shakloon main
Maine ghabra ke har shakal ko khuda maan liya


I have been fortunate to listen, see and observe poets such as Javed Akhtar and Gulzar I  person. I never had the same fortune with Kaifi Azmi, which has left so much to imagination. The life and times he operated in are so different from where I stand today. His struggles and accomplishments happened in the 5o’s, a time I always want to teleport myself to, simply to experience the upheavals, struggles as well as the immense creativity that existed in those times.

But a man who knew him closely  and celebrated him is Javed Akhtar and we can try and get to know this icon a little more through this poem, written by him for Kaifi Azumi… Ajeeb Aadmi Tha Woh. 


Ajeeb Aadmi Tha Woh
mohabbaton ka geet thaa,
bagavaton ka raag thaa,
kabhi woh sirf phool thaa,
kabhi woh sirf aag thaa…

ajeeb aadmi tha woh…
woh muflison se kahta thaa ke din badal bhi sakte hain,
woh jaaberon se kahta thaa tumhaare sar pe sone ke jo taaj hain, kabhi pighal bhi sakte hain,
woh bandishon se kahta thaa main tumko tod sakta hun,
Sahulaton se kahta thaa main tumko chhodh sakta hun,
hawaon se woh kahta thaa main tumko mod sakta hun,
woh khwaab se yeh kahta thaa, ki tujhko sach karunga main,
woh aarzoo se kahta thaa, main tera humsafar hun, tere saath hi chalunga main,
tu chaahe jitni door bhi banaa le apni manzilein, kabhi nahin thakunga main.

woh zindagi se kahta thaa ke tujhko main sajaoongaa,
tu mujhse chaand maang le, main chaand le ke aaungaa!!

woh aadmi se kahta thaa ke aadmi se pyar kar,
ujad rahi hai yeh zameen, kuch iska ab singhaar  kar

ajeeb aadmi tha woh…

woh zindagi ke saare gham, tamaam dukh, har ek sitam se kehta tha
main tum se jeet jaaunga,
ki tumko toh mitaa hi dega ek roz aadmi,
bhula hi dega yeh jahan.
meri alag hai daastaan
woh aankhein jin mein khwaab hain,
woh dil hain, jinmein aarzu hain,
woh baazoo jinmein hai sakat!
woh hont jin pe harf hain,

rahunga inke darmayan,
ke jab main beet jaaunga …

ajeeb aadmi tha woh…

Again, I didnt find translation by any translator online or within the books I possess. So here is my translation of this amazing poem.

Strange man he was
He was the song of love
He was the melody of rebellion
At times he was just a flower
At times just fire.

Strange man he was
To the downtrodden he would assure that times change,
To the tyrants he reminded that crowns they wear, can one day simply melt,
To restrictions he would let know that they can be broken
To comforts he said that he can give them up also,
He would apprise the winds that he can change their course,
He would tell his dreams that he would make them come true,
He would comfort desires, that he was their companion, with them each step of the way,
That no matter how far the destination, he would never tire.

To life itself he promised to celebrate it,
You ask for the moon and I will bring it to you!!

He asked mankind to love mankind
The earth is going barren he said, he asked man to adorn it.
Strange man he was

To every grief, every distress, every suffering he said
I will overcome you
And that one day mankind will annihilate you,
Forget that you even existed.
Those eyes where dreams reside,
The heart that has desires,
Those arms that bear strength
Those lips on which words sit

I will stay in between them
When I have departed.

Strange man he was!

Now we know where to find Kaifi Azmi…….

Here is the song….