By Sheshu Babu*
The above poem ‘Doosra Banvas’ by Kaifi Azmi, written in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition, reveals the contradictions of the movement that caused
Sayyid Akhtar Hussein Rizvi (Kaifi Azmi) was born on January 14,
Kaifi wrote fiery poems for the deprived, the disadvantaged, dispossessed, downtrodden and underprivileged. He recited them in poetry congregations. Eminent poet late Nida Fazli in his book ‘Chehre’ writes, “Kaifi’s entire poetic work is the story of those tears in different words”.
Being born in a Shia family, he had mourned for the 72 martyrs of Karbala. After becoming a communist, he mourned for the thousands of sufferers in the world. Nida Fazli mentions in his book that Kaifi’s style of poetry recitation was a part of
A pioneer in Urdu and Hindi poetry, he could publish only a few collections of his poems: ‘Jhankar(1943) , ‘Aakhir-e-shab’ (1947) , ‘Awara sijde’ (1973) and the collected poems Sarmaya (1992) which consist of not more than 125 poems. Many of his writings are uncollected. Despite suffering from cerebral stroke that left him partially paralysed for 25 years, he did not stop writing. He was a master of prose too. He wrote a column in Urdu ‘Blitz’, which was simultaneously published in Hindi between 1964 and 1972, collected in two volumes titled ‘Nayi Gulistan’.
Kaifi Azami was a poet activist and led many strikes and participated in many protest demonstrations. He was a socially and politically committed shayars and belonged to the legendary poets club of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Sahir Ludhianvi, Maqdoom Moinuddin, etc. His poetry and his political activities are inseparable. His poems like ‘Andhi’ (Storm) and ‘Bekari’ (Unemployment) depict anger, passion and commitment. In his ‘Istiqlal’ or (Resolve), he visualized the dangers of fascism.
His epic poem ‘Aurat’ was so inspirational that Shaukat, who was listening to his poem recital at a congregation, proposed and made him her life partner. In ‘Shanti van
To support financially, he wrote lyrics for the films like ‘Buzdil’ (1951), ‘Kagaz
Celebrating his centenary, one should strive to achieve his dreams — socialist India with communal harmony. In this year, when there is every likelihood of rising caste or religious bigotry, Kaifi’s works should be a source of inspiration in combatting communal tensions and senseless violence.
*Writer from anywhere and everywhere is a supporter of communal harmony