Mayawati and her statues

In his famous Nazm Awaara ,Majaz  is  disenchanted with the way things are around him.He is tormented by the fact that while so many cannot even afford a life of dignity the rulers are indulging in acts of debauchery.Their evenings filled with wine and music  draw their resources from poverty of hungry souls they have as their subjects.He laments at his inability to take away the wealth and status from these satanic hands and set ablaze their palaces and seats of unbridled power.

ले के एक चंगेज़ के, हाथों से खंज़र तोड़ दूँ                           maya
ताज पर उसके दमकता, है जो पत्थर तोड़ दूँ
कोई तोड़े या न तोड़े, मैं ही बढ़कर तोड़ दूँ
ऐ ग़म-ए-दिल क्या करूँ, ऐ वहशत-ए-दिल क्या करूँ

बढ़ के इस इंदर-सभा का, साज़-ओ-सामाँ फूँक दूँ
इस का गुलशन फूँक दूँ, उस का शबिस्ताँ फूँक दूँ
तख्त-ए-सुल्ताँ क्या, मैं सारा क़स्र-ए-सुल्ताँ फूँक दूँ
ऐ ग़म-ए-दिल क्या करूँ, ऐ वहशत-ए-दिल क्या करूँ

I wonder if the laborers who built the statues and stone gardens on acres and acres of land in Lucknow would have felt the same.More than the ugliness that mocks the residents of this city of subtle charms it is the low caste workers who would agree with Majaz.

What would be going on in their minds while hammering away the sandstone day in and day out for month’s together at 40 Degrees temperature ?

What would they be thinking while eating and sleeping on the roads besides the so called historical marvel they were creating ?

Would they be feeling a sense of pride  making  lifeless structures of dead materials when they were defecating in the open ?

Was this the promise of the Dalit and poor upliftment and social justice ??

Was this why they had voted the their Queen to power ?

Going by back of the envelope calculations let us see what could have been accomplished from the Rs 5000 crores spent by Mayawati on parks,memorials,statues and monuments in the state with the lowest social indicators in the world !

Mid day meals @ Rs 2 for 5 crore children 3 years

Toilets @ Rs10000 serving a community of 20 people – For 10 crore people

School Bags and Uniforms @ 1000 a piece – for 50 Lakhs children

Housing @ Rs 1 lakh for rural poor – 5 lakh houses

Solar Lighting  for Village community halls @ Rs 25000 – 20 lakh villages

Ambulances in villages for medical aid @ Rs 5 lakh – 1 lakh

The list could be endless and we can have combinations for optimizing the impact on society.

Obviously for a narcissist the first priority is to satisfy their own ego than to look at others around them even if they are the ones who are enablers of this act of self aggrandizement.It completely beats me how the Dalit cause is strengthened by making statues that cannot speak a word or do a thing.It would have been more worthwhile if Mayawati went around distributing money to whomsoever fell on her feet.If she gave Rs500 on an average, 5 crore people would have done that and at a rate of 1000 per day it was enough to last a life time(whatever is left of it).But education especially math is important to be able to do that and as per Up government that is something least important.

The (non) development data I have is from UP government’s website in which they seem to be laughing at their own numbers when compared to other states and even sub Saharan Africa.The best part is that they can still call it a Rainbow land ! Someone has been really creative and upfront in the information department.

Of course the Rainbow in UP is of just one color – blue .What a fool’s paradise  !

I strongly feel that it is not Mayawati’s fault.Someone should have just shown her the website and she would have known that she does not rule Vatican city but UP where Toilets are more important than statues.

Student Politics in UP – HAASIL

The film is a realistic portrayal of Student Politics in UP which to a certain extent explains the absence of educated young people in the Political arena.Caste politics is quite evident from the scenes in which Ran Vijay Singh(Irrfaan khan) is a Thakur and Badri shankar Pandey(Ashutosh Rana) is a Pandit.

Personally the film brings back a lot of memories from the time when I was a student at Lucknow University.

Watch it.It’s just amazing !

This song is a treat too.Don’t miss out.

The complete movie is uploaded on You tube numbered sequentially 1/15 through 15/15.Type haasil Movie in search and see it if you liked it so far.

Shatranj ke Khiladi and Lucknow

Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj ke Khiladi is one of my favorite movies.It not only takes me back in time to an era which transformed the fate of the people of Awadh but is also a treat to the senses with brilliant research,narration and performances.

I am giving below a few scenes that would help you appreciate the Nazaakat,Nafaasat and Tehzeeb (culture) of Lucknow which was called the constantinople of the East.

Munshi Premchand’s story,Screenplay and direction of Satyajit Ray,Narration by Amitabh Bachchan and some brilliant performances by Sanjeev Kumar,Syed Jaafri,Victor Banerjee and Amjad Khan.It could’nt get any better than this.

Scene 1 :

Its the opening scene along with casting and a superb narration by Amitabh Bachchan.In his book Premchand has described the Lucknow of those times so beautifully that I have read the paragraph many times.I am reading a book by Sharar called ‘Gujistaan Lucknow’ which has vivid details of life in those times.I can now realize the genius of Premchand and satyajit Ray to have captured the mood so brilliantly.

The residents of lucknow had built a world of their own which was centred around the idea of pleasure in all its forms.They flew kites,sang Ghazals,watched dance performences by nautch girls as well as Kathak Ustads,had animal fights,ate the best of food in their dastarkhwans and of course played chess.

It is believed that Wajid Ali Shah ‘s dinner camed from Six different Kitchen out of which the the main Kitchen had an expense of Rs 800000 annually in those times.There were other Nawabs who were famous for their taste and used have as many as 25 types of Pulav’s every day for dinner.

By the way there is big difference between Biryani and Pulav and Lucknowites belived Biryani to be a food of lesser mortals.It was considered a tuaheen if Biryani was cooked instead of Pulav for dinner at someone’s place.

You have a taste of the Nawwabi of Lucknow’s public in the scene below

Scene 2 :

This is a scene from General Outram’s study.He came to be known as Sir james Outram later.The scene has a dialogue between General Outram(played by Sir Richard Attenborough) and Sargeant Weston ( played by Tom Alter).I read in an interview with Tom Alter that he was chosen for  the role by Satyajit Ray when he visited NSD on the convocation day.He was impressed by Tom’s knowledge of Urdu and told him that he would hear from him soon.In the same interview Tom revealed the level of detail that Satyajit Dada would go into making his movies.He sketched General Outram’s study for the shot so that there were no objects that were out of place.Each article that you see on the Table or on the walls was well researched.Same is the case with all the scenes in the movie,if you watch closely.The level of detail is just amazing.

Sargeant Weston describes the lifestyle of Wajid Ali Shah and seems to be quite impressed with his knowledge of the arts and Music.He even recites a couplet of Generals insistance.It’s a treat ..

Scene 3 :

This is a must watch.It is the best performance of Amjad Khan ever.For those of you who remember him as Gabbar of Sholay it will be real eye opener.Amajad Khan fits the character of Wajid Ali Shah to the T and with his impeccable urdu pronounciation and effortless dialogue delivery he just captures your heart.You feel sorry for the king who sang songs of love and freedom but lost his thrown to British Politics even though his subject loved him to the extent that they sang his songs in the streets of Lucknow.

I have used one of his other songs as the title of one of my posts on Lucknow – Jab chhod chale Lucknow nagri,kahen haal ke hum par kya Guzari.

It is said that when British army came upto his palace all his servants ran away and he just kept asking’ Koi hai joote pehnane waala?’

I strongly feel that even though times have changed the Mijaaz (temprament) of the residents of this laid back city has not changed.As soon as you step into the city the mannerism,cultured talk,fondness of food and of all other good things in life will be evident to you.

I could never decide whether it has done more harm or good for Lucknow but as far as its peole are concerned they still look down upon other cities in thier cultural development. The more I read the more I am convinced that they are right.They may have lost out on material side of things but as far as appreciation of art forms and sheer good taste is concerned it is dificult to beat this city of Nawabs.

Life and times of Majaz Lucknowi

The postal department issued a postage stamp on Majaaz Lucknowi on 28th March 2008.He was remembered as a revolutionary poet who sang of love.

Asrarul Haq Majaz ,lovingly referred to as the Keats of urdu Poetry was born in 1911 in Rudauli,near Barabanki which is about 30 Kms from majaz-lucknowi2Lucknow (UP).He belonged to a well off family of Zamindars who moved to Lucknow and Majaz was brought up in this city of Nawabs with a flair for poetry and good things in life.

Majaz completed his B.A. at Aligarh Muslim University.A darling of poetry-lovers, Majaz was so popular among Girls   that they used to fancy him as their life partner and would say that if nothing works out I will name my son after him so I can remember him all the time.

He was the first Urdu poet who looked at woman as a partner and as a companion rather than just an object of beauty.He believed in equality of woman in all aspects of life and called upon them to start a revolution as one of his famous Ghazal suggets :

तेरे माथे पे ये आंचल बहुत ही खूब है लेकिन

तू इस आंचल को गर परचम (flag) बना लेती तो  अच्छा था

Majaz and Jazbi were the original voices of the ‘Progressive Writers’ movement that later brought Faiz, Sardar Jafri ,Sahir and scores of other poets along and for the first time turned poetry into an instrument of changing lives of masses.They also had a vital role to play in the independence struggle.

खून जो बह निकला है उस खून में बहा दो उनको

उनकी खोदी हुई खन्दक में गिरा दो  उनको

यह  तो हैं फितना ए बेदार दबा दो इनको

यह मिटा देंगे तम्मुदन(civilization) को मिटा दो इनको

No other generation of poets was as popular  as the young poets  during the ‘Progressive Writers’ Movement in the era of 1930s and 40s. The choice of words and the melody  of his poetry enthralled the audience and they wanted more and more of his kalaam( verse).
Majaz was an obvious choice when All India Radio Delhi started airing its programs post independance .He named the Urdu programme he hosted as ‘Awaaz’. It was during this time in Delhi that Majaz fell in love.Very little is known about who was the girl or what happened but she was from the high society is well established.Some say that she left him for an officer serving in the IAS and some say that she was already married.

बताऊं क्या तुझे ऐ हमनशीं किससे मोहब्बत है

मै जिस दुनियां में रहता हूं वो उस दुनियां की औरत है

कोई मेरे सिवा उसका निशां भी पा  ही नहीं सकता

कोई उस बारगाहे नाज़ तक़ जा ही नहीं सकता

As he lost out out in love, his heart was shattered completely and he left Delhi and came back to his watan (homeland)Lucknow.

रुख्सत ऐ दिल्ली ! तेरी मेहफिल से अब जाता हूं मैं

नौहां गर जाता हूं मैं ,नाला बालब ** जाता हूं मैं

*(with a sad song on my lips)

He got settled in Lucknow and along with his potery,his wit too became legendary. One famous incident which people narrate is :

To urge him to slow down on his drinking  Josh once told him

मजाज़ घडी रख कर पिया करो ,मैं बीस मिनट में एक पेग पीता हूं

To which Majaaz  in his inimitable style replied

घडी रख के पिया करूं जोश साहब ? मेरा बस चले तो मैं घडा रख के पिया करूं

People wanted to have the honour of drinking with the great poet. There is a scene in Movie Pyaasa in which Mr Ghosh the famous editor has araanged for such a Mehfil( gathering) in his house in which Majaaz has been invited along with Jigar Moradabadi to recite poetry.Vijay (Guru dutt) is serving wine to the guests when overwhelmed by Majaaz’s Ghazal he breaks down and starts singing ” Jaane woh Kaise log the  Jinke Pyaar ko Pyaar milaa”.It is a wonderful scene and I have it on my blog tiltled “हम पी भी गये छ्लका भी गये”

With pain in his heart his drinking went out of control and he became a declared alcoholic . He suffered his first nervous breakdown in 1940.He talked incoherently and  started asking money from friends and other acquaintances.His parents tried fixing up his marriage with a girl but at the last moment the girls’ father turned down the proposal as he had a reputation of being insane in the society. This lead to his second nervous breakdown in 1945 when he used to go around talking about his greatness – a megalomania of sorts.He would make a list of great poets and after Ghalib,Iqbal etc. he would put his own name .. he had to be admitted to an asylum in Ranchi.

Majaz recovered for the sake of his family and sisters (one of whom got married to Jaan Nisaar akhtar,father of Javed Akhtar)but life was never the same for him again.He could not relate to the world around him and so he became a loner and an introvert.He moved to Bombay for a while and started working there.He even tried to get some work in Films but the post-partition riots and the violence in Mumbai of which Majaaz was a witness moved him tremendously. Independence had not been able to fulfill the dreams of a poetic heart.Misery and injustice still ruled and only the power had changed hands.He never gave up his drinking and thought it to be his only companion till his life’s end.He said :

इस मेह्फिले कैफ ओ मस्ती में इस अंजुमन ए इरफानी में

सब जाम बक़फ बैठे ही रहे हम पी भी गये छ्लका भी गये

and he lamented it too ..

हम मैक़दे की राह से होकर गुज़र गये

वरना सफर हयात का बेहद तवील था

Another famous incident highlights his relationship with famous poet Saahir Ludhyaanwi.Sahir  introduced Majaz in the journal ‘Savera’ published from Lahore with these lines “Majaz has gone insane twice – he is drunk all the time and wanders aimlessly.”

In spite of being terribly hurt Majaaz responded like a poet citing his famous couplet…

कुछ तो होते हैं मोहब्बत में जुनूं के आसार

और कुछ लोग भी दीवना बना  देते हैं

One goes crazy in love and often people drive you mad too …

But Saahir loved Majaz and both were very good friends.When everyone around taunted Majaz about his drinking,he used to say…

मैं शराब पीता हूं,तुम क्या पीते हो? आदमी का खून ?

Saahir used these lines when  he wrote lyrics for a song sung by Mohd.Rafi  in Naya Raasta.It was picturised on Balraj Sahni. :

मैने पी शराब तुमने क्या पिया ? आदमी क खून ?

An incident relating to Josh Malihabadi is also interesting.

Majaz had been discharged from the mental hospital and though he looked normal, he was not entirely cured. Josh was not aware of this.Majaz once called the Commissioner of Delhi and asked him for one hundred rupees. When Josh heard this, he remarked that by this action of Majaz – the very dignity of poetry had been compromised.Majaaz responded in his own way :

जो गुज़रती है कल्बे शायर पर,शायर ए इंक़लाब क्या जानें ?

How can a revolutionary poet know the state of a romantic poets heart ?

In such a state Majaaz used to roam about the streets of Lucknow and often used to get ‘fans’ who would ask him to  recite poems for a bottle.They either dumped him after the party or asked their drivers to drop him home if they were more decent.

On a chilly winter night, he was taken away by a group of ‘fans’ who left him all alone on a hotel roof after drinking till late night, and he died alone in the bitter cold in an unconscious state. He was just 44 years old.The whole nation and especially the people of Lucknow mourned the death of their dear and beloved poet.

सारी मेहफिल जिस पे झूम उठ्ठी है मजाज़

वो तो आवाज़े शिकस्त ए साज़ है …………

The music on which the world has applauded

actually came from the breaking of an instruments string.

Wonderful !

Perhaps he knew that his end would come in such a manner and mocked his friendships by saying :

मेरी बर्बादियों के हमनशीनों ,तुम्हें क्या मुझे  भी गम नहीं है !

Although Majaz  wrote about Love and Beauty, his poems always retained a  certain level social consciousness in them. Instead of fantasizing about a world of Love and Beauty somewhere else, Majaz rebelled against the customs and traditions which constrain true love in real life.He dreamt of a place full of love but he never forgot to challenge the establishment where he lived.He had the courage to challenge injustice and his words had the power to move the masses.In the preface to Majaz’s ‘Aahang”, Faiz Ahmed Faiz writes “Majaz never beat the drums of revolution, he hummed revolutions!”

Below lines best describe the true colors of his poetry :

बख्शी  हैं हमको इश्क़ नें वो जराअतें मजाज़

डरते नहीं हैं सियासते अहले जहां से हम

Love has given me such an audacity that I don’t fear the politics of this world

This couplet is mentioned on the postage stamp in the picture above.

Another aspect of his poetry was the natural flow and the melody which is so peculiar in all his Ghazals and Nazms.It seems he sang them before he wrote them and not the other way round.Any composition can be hummed in your own way such is the beauty and intensity of his poems. He could see poetry in life around him and even such everyday objects as Railway train became the subject of his musings.Let’s have a look at below verses fro ‘Raat or Rail” :

फिर चली है रेल स्टेशन से लहराती हुई
नीमशब की खामोशी में ज़ेर-ए-लब गाती हुई
{इस्टेशन == station, नीमशब == midnight, ज़ेर-ए-लब == humming}
ड़गमगाती, झूमती, सीटी बजाती, खेलती
वादी-ओ-कोहसार की ठंड़ी हवा खाती हुई
{वादी-ओ-कोहसार == valley and mountains}
तेज़ झोंकों में वो छमछम का सरोद-ए-दिलनशीं
आँधियों में मेह बरसने की सदा आती हुई
{मेह == rain}
जैसे मौजों का तरन्नुम जैसे जलपरियों के गीत
इक-इक लय में हज़ारों ज़मज़में गाती हुई
नौनिहालों को सुनाती मीठी मीठी लोरियाँ
नाज़नीनों को सुनहरे ख़्वाब दिखलाती हुई
ठोकरें खाकर, लचकती, गुनगुनाती, झूमती
सर-खुशी में घुँघरूओं की ताल पर गाती हुई
नाज़ से हर मोड़ पर खाती हुई सौ पेच-ओ-ख़म
इक दुल्हन अपनी अदा से आप शरमाती हुई
{पेच-ओ-ख़म == twists & turns}

Truly amazing !

I will end this post with my favorite lines from Awaara :

रास्ते में रुक के दम ले लूं ,मेरी आदत नहीं

लौट कर वापस चला जाऊं मेरी फितरत नहीं

और कोई हमनवां मिल जाए ,ये किस्मत नहीं

ऐ गमे दिल क्या करूं ऐ वहशते दिल क्या करूं

देखना जज़्बे-मुहब्बत का असर आज की रात

देखना जज़्बे-मुहब्बत का असर आज की रात

मेरे शाने पे है उस शोख़ का सर आज की रात

Behold the feeling of our love tonight

On my shoulders rests her beautiful face tonight

और क्या चाहिए अब ऐ दिले-मजरुह तुझे

उसने देखा तो ब-अन्दाज़े दिगर आज की रात

What else you need my lovelorn heart

She saw you with a twinkle in her eye tonight

नूर-ही-नूर है जिस सिम्त उठाऊँ आँखें

हुस्न-ही-हुस्न है, ताहद्दे-नज़र5 आज की रात

Where I look there is light and more light

As far as I see  there is beauty and more beauty tonight

मेरी हर सांस पे वो उनकी तव्वजह क्या खूब

मेरी हर बात पे वो जुम्बिशे सर आज की रात

She cared for my every breath,as if

She nodded on  every word I said tonight

अल्लाह-अल्लाह वह पेशानिए-सीमीं का जमाल

रह गई जम के सितारों की नज़र आज की रात

Allah Allah that shinning forehead

The stars almost  stopped blinking tonight

नग़्मा-ओ-मै का यह तूफ़ाने-तरब क्या कहिए!

घर मेरा बन गया ख़ैय्याम का घर आज की रात

This wonderful storm of music and intoxication

My house has become the house of Khayyam tonight

अपनी रफ़अ़त पै जो नाज़ाँ हैं तो नाज़ाँ ही रहें

कह दो अंजुम से10 कि देखें न इधर आज की रात

O stars if you are proud of your high place,please be

Just tell the skies not to look this way tonight

उनके अल्ताफ़ का इतना ही फ़सूँ काफ़ी है

कम है पहले से बहुत दर्दे-जिगर आज की रात

Her magical kindness has bestowed this upon me

There seems to be no pain in my heart tonight

नर्गिसे नाज़ पे वो नीदं का हल्का सा खुमार

वो मेरे नग्म ए शीरीं क असर आज की रात

Those sleepy eyes of  her flower face

That effect of my love song on her tonight

Poet ~ Majaaz Lucknowi

interpretative transaltion by aahang

जब छोड़ चले लख्ननऊ नगरी

जब छोड़ चले लख्ननऊ नगरी ,               indian-rail

कहें हाल के हम पर क्या ग़ुज़्ररी

There is an attachment that each of us has to the places where we were born.Having spent our childhood in wonder running after butterflies and chasing rainbows,playing silly little games with our chums,eating and sleeping at will,getting scolded by almost everyone who got annoyed by our constant flow of energy.There is really no difference in the places and people whether now and then,only we have changed.When we were young everything around us was a posiibility,a dream,a hope,a mystery.As life took us through its myriad lanes of deciet,competition,money,power,lust,information,death,destruction what got killed in us was the simplicity of our heart,the innocence.That is one reason we keep coming back to the time and place where we had felt alive.

Another strong attachment is Family.Father,Mother,Siblings,Uncles,Aunts cousins.You have a sense of getting rooted,a sense of belonging,you don’t just exist here,you live.You make what this place is all about.The people around you are yours.They think,talk,walk,learn,fail,laugh like you.Their actions are similiar and their reactions same.You don’t belong to Lucknow,it belongs to you.You are a part of the landscape not an alien planted from outside .There is no possibility that you can find that level of identification,connect and concern anywhere else.

लखनऊ हम पर फिदा और हम फिदा ए लखनऊ,                  rumi_th

क्या है ताक़त आसमां की ,हमसे छुड़ाए लखनऊ

You can take me out of Lucknow

But you can never take Lucknow out of me.

My love for poetry comes from the city I lived and loved in.When times were bad and friends were not around I found peace in books and poetry.Must be in my DNA as I instantly took to shaayari as it had always been a part of my being,for ages.Majaaz Lucknowi on whose book I have named this blog inspired me and I continue to discover new gems every now and then.I recently saw an old picture of him and found that my father used to look almost like him in his younger days.Both of them belong to a place near Barabanki.I am sure people used to dress that way in those times and looks were inspired by cinema but that’s how a colletive mind is born.A mind that cannot but think similiarly.As I travelled more and more I realized that how different we were from other people and how we got a feeling of calmness when I was amongst my own.In India everything starts and ends with religion whether you are a hindu or a muslim but in China many of the young people do not even have the concept of religion,even God.

जिन से हम छूट गए अब वो जहां कैसे हैं   lko2

वो मक़ीं कैसे हैं शीशे के मकां कैसे हैं

ए सबा तू तो उधर से ही गुज़रती होगी

उस गली में मेरे पैरों के निशां कैसे हैं

Now I am asking for trouble but I will speak the truth nevertheless.The concept and idea of beauty changes from place to place but not really from time to time.I always found women from Lucknow more attractive not only because of their face and form but also their word and thought drew my mind more than the others.The nazaaqat , nafaasat,the values,ethos,whims and fancies belong only to the women born in this beautiful city.Once again enlarging the context you will seldom find westeners getting attracted to African women or Arabs getting attracted to chinese.I am not talking sex but actual relationships.It is very difficult to relate to someone who is very different from least for lesser evolved minds like me.I am not John Lenon.


खुदा आबाद रखे लखनऊ फिर भी गनीमत है

कहीं न कहीं कोई अच्छी सूरत दिख ही जाती है

And lastly you have to come back where it all started

बहुत धूप थी ज़रा सी शाम कर लें

बहुत दौड़ॆ ज़रा आराम कर लें

खुद को खो कर इस शहर की खाक़ में

नए  फिर अपने जिस्म ओ जान कर लें

In our parts older women will put it something like this :

अऊते कैसे नाहीं , उनकी नाल हिएं गड़ी जऊन है

( He had to die where his umbilical chord lies buried)

Even Josh Malihabadi has said :

अब्र तक़ रहने ना देना तुम दक़न की खाक़ में

दफ्न करना अपने शायर को वतन की खाक़ में

(Literally translates don’t let me be there in deccan till eternity,bury your poet in the dust of his beloved land.)

Above lines were written by Josh Malihabadi when he was appointed in the royal court in Hyderabad and after almost a century I am writing about the same emotion living in Hyderabad.

So I just hope that one day when all is done and over I will get a chance to pass my days in the bylanes and bazaars of Lucknow enjoying a drink in the evening and a walk in the morning.