Athar Husain Rizvi or better known as Kaifi Azmi, was an acclaimed Indian Urdu poet who was responsible to bring Urdu literature to Indian Cinema. Born into a Zamidar family residing in Mijwan, Azamgarh; Kaifi Azmi has been with the most renowned Jon Elia and Pirzada Qazim and put up one of the most memorable mushairas of 20th cent.
"KOI TO SOOD CHUKAYE KOI TO ZIMMA LEY
US INQUILAB KA JO AAJ TAK UDHAAR SA HAI"-
Kaifi Azmi (http://www.mijwan.org/)
'Itna to zindagi mein kisi ki khalal pade' was his first ghazal which he wrote at a tender age of 11 years and with the help of which he was invited to a Mushaira. When he recited a couple of his ghazals there, his father thought those were of his elder brother who was also poetic. However, after his brother denied, his father along with his clerk tried testing him with a couplet to be written as a ghazal in the same rhyme and meter. Kaifi came out with flying colours and left everyone in awe with his words. The ghazal created in this historic moment was later sung by the veteran Begum Akhtar.
Kaifi left his studies and joined the Communist Party when he was 19 years of age. During this time, with his exceptional talent, became a part of the PWA (Progressive Writers Association) and got great appreciations. He left his luxury life and started working with the workers to promote the party in Bombay. He even travelled to different parts of the country to attend mushairas. Here he got in touch with Ali Sardar Jafri and began writing for the party's paper - Qaumi Jung.
Kar chale hum fida jan-o-tan sathion
ab tumhare hawale watan sathio,
zinda rahne ki mausam bahut hai magar
jaan dene ki rut roz ati nahi,
husn aur ishq dono ko ruswa kare
wo jawani jo khoon me nahati nahi,
aaj dharti bani hai dulhan sathio
Kar Chale hum Fida Jano Tan Sathio
It was here when he met and married Shaukat Azmi who later became a thespian. Kaifi and Shaukat were blessed with two kids - the renowned actress of today Shabana Azmi and Baba Azmi. His love for his wife couldn't be expressed in words. He was always dependent on her for all his domestic needs.
Azmi's collection of poems- Jhankaar was first published in the year 1943 after which he began writing for the Indian Cinema. In 1952, he wrote his first lyrics for Shahid Lateef's 'Buzdil'. He has also contributed to films like Shama, Shola aur Shabnam, Kaagaz ke Phool, Razia Sultan, Pakeezah, Anupama, Haqeeqat, Arth, Aakhri Khat and many more. He has also created history by writing the entire dialogues of the film Heer Ranjha in verses. He wrote the dialogues for Manthan directed by Shyam Benegal and has also worked with the much acclaimed Guru Dutt, M.S.Sathyu and Cheetan Anand. His song 'Meri Awaaz Suno, Pyar Ke Raaz Suno' was sung by Mohammad Rafi in 1967 for the movie Naunihal picturising the funeral procession of the first PM of India - Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru.
In Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s direction ‘Naseem’, Kaifi Azmi played the role of Naseem’s grandfather. He was also the man behind these beautiful lyrics of the famous ghazals sung by Jagjit Singh for the movie Arth:
(i) Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho
Kya gum hai jisko Chupa rahe Ho.
(ii) Jhuki jhuki si nazar bekraar hai ke nahin,
dabaa dabaa sa sahi, dil mein pyaar hai ke nahin..
Apart from being a songwriter, lyricist and a poet, Kaifi Azmi was also an active member of IPTA (All India President of the Indian People Theatre Association). For his commendable work in the masterpiece 'Garam Hawa', Kaifi Azmi won a National Award as well as a Filmfare. Not only this, he was also the proud winner of Afro-Asian Writers Lotus Award, Sahitya Akademi Award, Padma Shri Award, Delhi Government State Award and many more to count. His most prestigious docrates came from Vishwa Bharti University Shanti Niketan, Agra University and Purvanchal University.
Aaj ki raat bahut garam hawa chalti hai
Aaj ki raat na neend aayegi
Hum sub uthen, main bhi uthun, tum bhi utho
Koi khidki isi deewar mein khul jayegi
On 8th of February 1973, Kaifi Azmi suffered from a paralytic stroke because of brain haemorrhage which damaged his left side severely. After coming out from his coma he recited these beautiful lines from is poem Zindagi-
MAUT LEHRATI THI SAU SHAKLON MEIN
MAINE GHABRAKE HAR SHAKL KO KHUDA MAAN LIYA
Throughout his life, Kaifi Azmi single handedly changed the entire face of his village Mijwan in Azamgarh even when he was paralysed. At a point when he could easily hug success and bag luxury, he chose to work towards the development of his village. He never wished for instant change rather he was always prepared for it to not to happen at all. This is something we all should learn from him to not to expect something in return for our efforts and actions. He founded the Kaifi Azmi Girls Inter-College, Sewing & Embroidery Center and Kaifi Azmi Computer Center.
PYAR KA JASHN NAYEE TARAH MANANA HOGA,
GAM KISI DIL MEIN SAHI GAM KO MITANA HOGA
On 10 May 2002, the legendary Kaifi Azmi breathed his last. He is survived by his wife Shaukat Azmi, daughter Shabana, son Baba Azmi, Son in Law Jawed Akhtar, and grandson Farhan Akhtar.
Even after his death, his poetry became a huge source of inspiration for Shabana and her family. Jawed Akhtar, Shabana’s husband and a famous lyricist finds great inspiration from Kaifi Azmi’s works. His best known poems are Daarera, Makaan, Aurat, Bahuroopni and Saanp.
One of the earliest memories of his daughter Shabana with her beloved father was when he would write till wee hours in his kurta pyjama. Since he didn't go to the office like other fathers in her circle, she often lied that he was a businessman. Once Kaifi Saab gifted a doll with black skin to young Shabana and told her that being black was indeed beautiful. Though initially it was an ugly gift for a child, but she understood the meaning of those words soon.
At a literature festival, Shabana recalled how convicting was her father in her poetry that once he recited a poem to a woman (who was awed by it) at a party and told her that it was meant for her, to whom Shabana pointed that it was written for her mother and the giggles continued.
In another incident, when Shabana was about to begin her Padyatra from Delhi to Meerut she went up to her father to pave the nervousness out of her heart and it happened exactly the same way when Kaifi Saab blessed her.
The last time Kaifi Sa'ab got up from his bed was on his birthday in 2002 when Shabana was exhausted waiting for him to finish meeting the villagers. He went out with some money and brought samosas for Shabana and said, "Mere gaon wale tumhara subah se bheja chaat rahen hai na? Main apne chidiya ke liya khaas taur se woh samose lekar aaya hoon jo ussey bahut pasand hai". Few months after which, he left us with his memories and words.
After working for long on its updation, Shabana Azmi finally launched a website (http://www.azmikaifi.com/) in honour of her father in 2014 which hosts various collections of his poems, achievements, videos, contributions, songs and much more. She even organizes a star-lit fashion show through her NGO to collect funds to support the villagers of Mijwan.
There are many roads in India which are dedicated to this man of stellar work. One in Delhi, another in Mijwan, Hyderabad, and one on UP's Sultanpur Expressway. To honour his contributions, the Govt. of India named the Azamgarh to Delhi train as Azamgarh-Delhi Kaifiyaat Express. This was a great moment as there are only two more writers who were given this honor- Rabindranath Tagore (Gitanjali Express) and Premchand (Godaan Express).
We cannot fit in his contributions with our words. Kaifi Azmi lives way beyond his life, may his kind soul keeps showering blessings on all of us! Here are some famous lines of Kaifi Saab as a parting note...
बस इक झिझक है यही हाल-ए-दिल सुनाने में
कि तेरा ज़िक्र भी आयेगा इस फ़साने मेंब
रस पड़ी थी जो रुख़ से नक़ाब उठाने में
वो चाँदनी है अभी तक मेरे ग़रीब-ख़ाने में
इसी में इश्क़ की क़िस्मत बदल भी सकती थी
जो वक़्त बीत गया मुझ को आज़माने में
ये कह के टूट पड़ा शाख़-ए-गुल से आख़िरी फूल
अब और देर है कितनी बहार आने में ||
Spouse: Shaukat Kaifi
Children: Shabana Azmi, Baba Azmi
Son in Law: Jawed Akhtar
Daughter in Law: Tanvi Azmi
Grandchildren: Farhan Akhtar, Zoya Akhtar
(FAN OF Mr. KAIFI AZMI)
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