Between the Lines | The Indian Express

Written by Seema Chishti

Updated: October 6, 2018 12:10:46 am

Shahryar: A Life in Poetry Rakshanda Jalil HarperCollins India 256 pages

Ajeeb saneha mujh par guzar gaya Yaaron/ Main apne saaye se, Khud aaj darr gaya Yaaron

Based in Aligarh, the acclaimed poet Akhlaq Mohammad Khan ‘Shahryar’ was deeply related to the metropolis and the college. His up to date, the late Kamleshwar, described Shahryar’s poetry as bheegi rait — moist sand. His poetry, Kamleshwar stated, lacked the “smoothness of silk or satin or the coarseness or crispness of cotton” and, as an alternative, was like moist sand that bore the weight of which means. It didn’t enable one to wring out all which means however gave a way of the depth of the deep river or sea that flowed previous. But to most Indians, Shahryar can be recognized for his landmark songs in Hindi cinema, though he wrote so few. But what he wrote for simply Gaman (1978) and Umrao Jaan (1981) was sufficient to ensure an on the spot flicker of recognition from Hindi movie music followers of all generations over the years. Shahryar refused to do extra movie music and whereas fascinating, his repertoire of movie songs doesn’t do justice to the full breadth of his popularity as a poet. It doesn’t even convey all the colors and flavours of his poetry to the display. Contrast this together with his fellow Aligarh poet Neeraj, who died lately. Like Shahryar, he wrote much less, however managed to get his movie work to mirror his guide of poems. Not so, with Shahryar. Shahryar’s poetry, prose and life are introduced collectively very apparently in Rakshanda Jalil’s newest work, Shahryar: A Life in Poetry, a precious addition to the lengthy checklist of books by her on Urdu poetry and its poets.


The guide is aimed toward each those that already know one thing about Shahryar and people who know simply sufficient to understand how little they know. Shahryar, a classy and trendy poet, was a particular voice of his time. He was distinctive in his means to avoid each the labels standard at the time: of being progressive (taraqqi-pasand) and trendy (jadeedi). His poetry singularly lacks strains corresponding to those who Faiz, Firaq or Jalib wrote, which served as requires motion. Yet, sustaining that he was a Marxist (although not an atheist) Shahryar was trendy, eager to talk “to the people and of the people” and to not get trapped into simply romantic and nostalgic considerations. Most of all, he was comfy to not be labelled as both. Jalil has dwelt on the parallel actions in Hindi and Urdu poetry of the time between the progressives and the trendy camp, and, the distinctive trade-offs between belonging to both ‘camp’, to not point out the limitations it drew round him. Shahryar’s subtlety is introduced out by way of an interview with Gulzar, who says categorically that Shahryar was trendy, however a small-town modernist, “not a New Yorker… he spoke of Ghantaghar, not of the Eiffel Tower.” Shahryar seldom spoke of overt political occasions and, even whereas delving deep inside, hardly wrote of issues that may very well be related again to non-public happenings or his personal circumstances. His recognition maybe emanates from his means to make “common cause” together with his readers and whereas virtually aloof, not making it ‘personal’ or exaggerating, with the ability to get by way of to the coronary heart of the human situation. Shahryar’s daring and direct sketches of bodily intimacy and longing additionally marked him out as a poet, one thing that this guide brings out very effectively.

But past simply the one poet, Shahryar: A Life in Poetry should be counseled for bringing to gentle a lot about Urdu and Hindi poetry, and its journey in Aligarh Muslim University. The creator tackles some thorny points successfully, all in the course of describing Shahryar’s life and occasions; like how a lot the self should be central for a poet and the way a lot the world or the occasions, for an article to be a traditional. The poet’s dedication to kind and respect for poetic custom can be introduced out. Shahryar believed that self-discipline or learning the craft of writing poetry is as essential as expertise: “Everyone cannot marshall the ideas produced by their imagination, organise them in a coherent and meaningful manner and present them in a way that is pleasing or new. Nor can everyone gather together scattered ideas and thoughts in a way that is startling. The primary function of any art form is to surprise; it is the most magical effect that art can produce.”

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