Category Archives: kaifi

Kaifi


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.

shab-kaifi

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

leaving-the-land

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. 

Transliteration

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…

Translation
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….

Advertisements

Same same but different


 

sad-505857_960_720

A grand dark cloud gathered all around her.

She wouldn’t be lying if she admitted that she knew it was lurking around, ready to swallow her whole. Standing at the edge, knowing how close it was, how easy it was for her to take a step and fall into that bottomless pit, made her clinch her gut. In that instant she could not breath, fearful at the prospect of falling in again.

But everyday acts needed to be performed, and this resulted in bland meals cooked without soul, paint brushes waiting to be stroked, that bright new dress still hanging in the closet, that pen lying in wait, no words, no new thoughts, just a grayness all around.

If Buddha were to hear her tale, he might simply ask her to live in the moment.

In the moment……

If this moment now is what defines me, then what of the moments that have made me, Me. Right at this moment am I not a culmination of moments past? Made of memories, hurt, pain, victory, satisfaction. If the past defines me, why am I not allowed to escape to the future? Just worry a little, stress out about things I cant control, create negative scenarios where all is lost?

And so she relinquishes control, falling slowing, each part of her body going numb slowly.

In the midst of the grayness, her happy past brings even darker fears; what if the future does not hold the same fervor? As time passes will she be able to fight hurt and failure with the same gusto she did in the past? May be her strength is failing her, may be she never was strong, may be they were right……

huge.96.480867She lives inside the worm hole for a day, the day turns into a week. She can hear them call her, telling her how beautiful, how special she is. She makes mental notes on everything right in her life, everything that she has, trying hard to be grateful.

It’s a bend in the road they say, not the end….come back to us, for we are ever waiting.

 


Deep darkness sometimes surrounds many of us. Depression, Negativity, Fear, Phobias, call it by any name, is a reality. Prevalent and spreading like wild fire, it is sometimes compared to a silent and slow drug.  Making me wonder how many of those happy faces around me are hiding within them this darkness, never being able to confess.

The fear of being ridiculed, being labeled weak, a vacuum of good listeners, neither friends who can be cathartic or an ego to big to admit, leads to the dark hole growing bigger.

My wish then is not that you never to be in that place, because the truth is we all do visit it. But I wish that it doesn’t last too long, that you kick the hell out of it and not linger there too long.

And I pray that you have around you, those who are patient, who believe when you don’t, who wait for you to emerge and smile that knowing smile.

The words of Kaifi Azmi in this poem talks about the lover, which sometimes can be the beloved or could it also be our darkness in whose arms we sometimes lie.

Transliteration

Uljhe uljhe jazbaat na pooch
Sehmi sehmi inayat na pooch
baar baar uska karam farmana
chupke chupke sare-baali aana
jaane kya kya woh mujhe samjhana
aur aap hi sharmajana
mukhtasar kitni thi woh raat na pooch

Aah mamnune-asar ho ki na ho
dekhiye raat basar ho ki na ho
abr ujdhe hue mandhlaye hue
taur sehme hoye ghabraye hue
ashk rukhsaar pe kuch aaye huye
aur kuch palko mein tharraye huye
aur khuda jaane seher ho ki na ho.

Translation

I did not find any prominent renditions of this poem or translations. Hence this is my humble attempt at translating his words.

Don’t ask about those knotted emotions
Don’t ask about those fearful blessings
Again and again you shower your grace
Quietly lie next to my pillow
Explaining to me all kinds of things
and feeling shy at the end of it
Don’t ask how minuscule that night felt.

Even if my sighs may or may not be that impressive
Even if the night may or may not exist
The clouds all uprooted and confused
The demeanor fearful and frightened
Those tears that lie on the cheeks
And some that lie captured in those eyelashes
Only the lord knows if the morning will ever arrive.