Majesty of Urdu poetry mesmerizes all in ISF Mushaira


Saudi Gazette

— It was a fine fusion of Urdu poetry and satire at a Mushaira (Poetic session) organized by the Indian Social Forum (ISF) in Dammam recently. Poets after poets mesmerized the packed auditorium with their love couplets or eulogy of their beloved but it was famous Indian satirist Sampat Saral, in his extremely easy and innocent style, who hit hard on political realities in India. The evening was a beautiful amalgamation of poetry and satire — some satire in poetry form and some in prose.

The most impressive feature of the Mushaira was the absence of populist weaponry used by poets in other Mushairas in the Kingdom. Over the years it has been noticed that poets after poets in different Mushaira recite their age-old ghazals or nazms (long poetry) that had already won huge accolades at least dozens times in more than a dozen Mushaira. Be it a session in Dammam, Jeddah or Riyadh, the poet will recite his poem on “Urdu” or “Ma” (mother) and light the auditorium on fire — his perception. In reality the audience is tired of such repetition and want to listen to new ideas new philosophy and new imagery.

The ISF hosted Mushaira had fewer poets (in all five poets and a satirist) and all of them came up with new poetry. It is not that they did not recite their oft-repeated ghazals and nazms — they did but they presented new work as well.

The auditorium reverberated with thunderous applause and traditional wah wahs (expressions of approval or bravos) and Subhan Allah (All praise to God) for every poet for his creative work. Despite next day being a working day Urdu enthusiasts made a beeline to the mega extravaganza.

Mansour Shah, acting president of ISF, welcomed the guests and poets and highlighted the aim and objective of Indian Social Forum. He said the forum was committed to work untiringly for the growth and development of Indians not only in Saudi Arabia but also in India.

He urged famous Urdu poet from India, Wasim Barelvi, to preside over the Mushaira.

Shiraz Mehdi Zia, of KFUPM, was the compere who focused more on his own poetry than managing the Mushaira. The poetry session started with rendition from Asif Akhtar who appealed for unity and brotherhood among different caste and religion in India:

Hindu Muslim Sikh Esai pyar se raho mere bhai; Zaat Dharam aur Firqa wari netaon ki zaroorat hai (Live with love and harmony dear Muslims, Hindus and Christians; sectarianism, racism and communalism is need of politicians)

He was followed by Zameer Siwani who enthralled the audience with his lamentation of pains of love.

Diya phir se jala kar Rakh diya hai; Hawaon ko thaka kar rakh diya hai

Mohabbat mein hamara naam pagal; Kisi ne muskra kar rakh diya hai (Hope of love is rekindled so many times that even breeze is tired of putting it out. My love is so intense that someone has named me senile)

Shiraz Mehdi the compere then introduced Shiraz Mehdi the poet! He requested himself to take the podium. On a serious note, he did impress the audience with his fine use of metaphors and takraar (repetition).

Yeh jo hum kehte hein hum sachchey hein hum jhootey hein; Sach to yeh hai ki sabhi qaul-o -Qasam Jhootey hein

Khud ko is wastey Dastar ke qabil samjha; Hum bhi jhootey hein magar auron se kam jhootey hein (I am essentially a liar when I say I am honest. Truth is that all promises and assurances are false. But still I am lesser liar than others)

Shiraz has so much love for poetry that he forgets his role of compere and on many occasions he takes more time than poets. However, the fact is that he has good command over the language and does understand the intricacies of Mushaira and its protocols.

Saeed Ahmad Muntazir then took the podium. Though he put all his efforts to stir the audience, which had gone in slumber, but without any success. However, he did create some ripple with his:

Aah Karna na dil-e-Hazeen kahin; Aag lag jayegi kahin na kahin

Phool phenko na mujh par hans hans kar; Chot lag jayegi kahin na kahin (Oh my broken heart doesn’t lament or else fire will break out. Don’t throw petals on me. Even they might hurt me)

The compere then called upon Sampat Saral, famous political satirist from India who has acquired sudden fame soon after Narendra Modi ascended to power. Sampat has created a niche for himself.

Though it was his first visit to the Kingdom but his fame preceded him. His diminutive personality, common man’s language and diction; his mannerism literally personified the common man of India. Every second person saw himself in him. It would be an exaggeration to say that he brought the audience to a hysteric state, but he did bring the audience on to their heels. His veiled attack on the present Indian establishment and parody on misplaced sense of nationalism were not only thought-provoking but quite philosophical. “It is good to be a nationalist but it is better to be a humanist” was crux of his monologue.

The audience was now ready for second session of poetry. They had waited all through the night to hear Nawaz Deobandi and Wasim Barelvi. Nawaz Deobandi started with his reflections on social contradictions: Mere paimane mein kuch hai tere paimane mein kuch; Dekh le saqi ki ho jaye na maikhane mein kuch (You and I have different things in our glass. Let’s hope no untoward thing happen)

It was a fine example of social conflicts in Indian society and their inherent contradictions created by feudal system.

He brought the auditorium to absolute frenzy with his couplet: Yeh karam bhi kam nahi tera mere rab-e-kareem; Barhana paida hoye malboos dafnaye gaye (This is kindness and mercy of Almighty that we are born naked but buried with clothes on)

Jin par luta chukka tha mein duniya ki daulatien; Un warison ne mujh ko kafan naap kar diya (People whom I gave everything gave me extremely measured shroud). It was a fine example of Urdu metaphors and simile. No doubt he is master of his craft.

And then came Wasim Barelvi. Wasim is a famous Urdu poet in India and Pakistan. He is probably among the last of the old school of Urdu poetry along the lines of Faiz, Majaz, Firaq and Ahmad Faraz. But in Saudi Arabia he has acquired the status of a local poet. Almost in every poetic session and in every city, Wasim Barelvi features in the list of poets. But it is also a fact that he has a blind following and his fans will go to any extent to hear his work.

Tum meri Taraf dekhna chhod do to bataon; Har shakhs tumhari hi taraf dekh raha hai (If you stop looking at me then I will make you realize that everyone is looking at you).

It is a fine attack on social criticism and reflection on harsh realities of life. Phool to phool hein ankhon se ghirrey rehtey hein; Kante bekaar hifazat mein lage rehte hein (Reality shall always remain reality like a flower all the thorns in the world cannot hide truth)

Muntazir mein bhi nahi rehta kisi ahat ka; Kaan darwaze pe uske bhi lagey rehtey hein (It is not me alone who awaits you; you too keenly try to hear my footsteps)

Who mere chehre tak apni nafratien laya to tha; Mein ne uske haath choomey aur bebas kar diya (He brought his hatred upto my face but I just kissed his hand and made him helpless)

In just one verse he summarized the whole philosophy of Gandhi and Buddha. Undoubtedly that is the making of a great poet.

Wasim Barelvi’s just this couplet made the ISF Mushaira a huge success. Undoubtedly people will remember this evening for a long time to come. Saudi Gazette was media partner of the event. The organizers later awarded mementoes to poets, volunteers and sponsors.