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Published in the 1-15 May 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Indo-Pak international mushaira

Hindu bhi mazey mein hain aur Musalman bhi, Insan yahaan bhi pareshaan hai aur wahaan bhi

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed

There was the usual bonhomie at the Jashn-e-Bahar. The Sir Shankar Lal auditorium at Delhi’s Modern School witnessed a successful evening of shairi in the backdrop of a huge painting by MF Hussain. Once again, the connoisseurs of Urdu shairi were enthused and enthralled by the echoes of mukarrar irshad and Subhan Allah. As Urdu poets came from as far as China and Saudi Arabia, the mushaira was truly international.

Presided over by the Urdu litterateur Gopi Chand Narang, the candle (shama) of the mushaira was lit by the elite socialite from Bihar, Kamna Prasad. 
Thanks mainly to the efforts of Sulabh International that after the Shree Ram enterprise, the shama of Urdu poetry was kept burning. The mushaira was organised at the request of Sahitya Academy on the occasion of its golden jubilee. The poets who enthralled one and all included, Ahmed Faraz (Pakistan), Nida Fazli, Saghar Khayyami, Munawwar Rana, Mansoor Usmani, Popular Merathi, Rais Ansari, Manzar Bhopali, China’s Shwang Shi Shwang (pen name: Intekhab Alam), Umar Salim Al-Durus, Lata Haya, Shaharyar and Kishwar Nahid amongst others.

Most hilarious moments came when poets took a dig at politicians. The pick of this mushaira undoubtedly was Saghar Khayyami, the lord of light-hearted, comic couplets of today’s Urdu as he said, Buddhe neta ko chadhi jawani/ Ehlu pehlu bollywood, buddhe neta feeling good!. He said that earlier these superannuated politicians used to take tickets to see the bollywood beauties, now they give them tickets to see them! In the same vein, Munawwar Rana, Lata Haya and Popular Merathi did not spare the politicians and pulled their legs with her "Feel Good" poem, Kitna kuchh hai bad yahan, phir bhi hum good feel karen,/ Kum kapron se hoti sajja phir bhi hum good feel karen,/ Mandir dhayen, masjid dhayen phir bhi hum good feel karen…!

If the not so celebrated poets were impeccable in their content and delivery, the star attractions like Ahmed Faraz and Nida Fazli came up with their old and oft repeated couplets which made the gathering disgruntled and they pined for the newer compositions. In fact the big names these days have been taking shairi connoisseurs for a ride by repeating their old compositions. But then Nida came up with a good poem condemning manipulating Indo-Pak politicians and depicting the similar existence of people who love each other across the border irrespective of the cross-border tensions, "Insan mein haivan yahan bi hai wahan bhi,/ Rehman yahan bhi hai wahan bhi,/ Hindu bhi mazey mein hain aur Musalamn bhi,/ Insan yahan bhi pareshan hai aur wahan bhi." What a truth! Some lovers of shairi complained at the end that the organizers didn’t really bother to properly advertise the mushaira. Many didn’t know even now! Quite concerned about building bridges, the poet diplomat, Faraz recited his famous couplet: Yeh log kaise magar dushmani nibhate hein/ Hamen to raas na aayeen mohabbaten karni!

On the issue of people identifying with each other across the borders, Ahmad Faraz said, "People on both sides of the border share the same food habits, breathe the same air, are entertained by the Khans of Bollywood. Besides, Aishwarya and Priety are darlings of Pakistanis If the Indo-Pak politicians work positively, both the countries can get rid of the scarcity of water, electricity, food grains etc." 

Faraz is against any friction in the Indo-Pak ties. Tu dashna-e-nafrat ko hi lehrata raha hai/ Tu ne kabhi dushman se lipat kar nahin dekha? (You have been brandishing the sword of hate,/ Do you know how it feels when you embrace the enemy?) Faiz also reiterates the views of Ali Sardar Jafri: Guftgu band na ho baat se baat chaley,/ Sar par sitaron ki hansti hui raat chaley from his collection Cultures of India, A portrayal of the 50 Years of Urdu Poetry. 

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