04-DEC-2015: Noted poet and film lyricist, Mr Javed Akhtar recently released 'Kharman' (harvest), a collection of selected poetry of his grand father, Muztar Khairabadi in a cultural and literary evening at the Conference Hall of the Faculty of Social Science, Aligarh Muslim University.
During the book release, Mr Akhtar revealed that he came across Muztar's rare collection while changing flats in Mumbai.
"I found a cardboard box filled with odds and ends among my grandfather's things and not knowing what to do with it, I kept it in storage and promptly forgot about it," said Mr Akhtar adding that years passed, till one day I thought of pulling the collection out and going through its contents.
He added that it was later that he found letters from Muztar's friends and literary luminaries and manuscripts of Muztar's collection of unpublished poetry, written in his own handwriting.
Mr Akhtar further added that the collection then appeared ready for printing, for it had a title, 'Kharman,' appended by his grandfather. He added that the contents of this collection have now transformed into a handsomely produced five-volume compendium.
Mr Akhtar lamented that while none of Muztar's poems were published in his own lifetime, he was nevertheless a bit of an urban legend: known as a poet to Urdu poetry connoisseurs but someone whose works were inaccessible and cloaked in mystery for the lay reader.
He also said that a very famous Ghazal of Muztar, 'Na kisi ki ankh ka noor hoon, na kisi ke dil ka qarar hoon, Jo kisi ke kaam na aa sakey main woh ek musht-e-ghubar hoon (I am the light of no one's eyes, the throb of no one's heart, I am that fistful of dust that can be of no use to anyone) has been wrongly ascribed to Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor.
"Eminent literary critics such as Niaz Fatehpuri, Ale Ahmad Suroor and Gopi Chand Narang had for long argued that this verse was not found in Zafar's complete works, published in 1887, and was definitely Muztar's," said Mr Akhtar.
While, presiding over the function, the Aligarh Muslim University Pro Vice Chancellor, Brigadier S Ahmad Ali (retd) informed that Muztar's collection 'Kharman' will be kept in the Maulana Azad library soon after the function is over. He urged the students and scholars attending the event to read from Muztar's collection when ever they find time.
The Pro Vice Chancellor also said that AMU will soon have a dedicated centre to work on rare collections, which are yet to be published.
Dr S Shahid Mehdi, Former Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia, who released the book with Mr Akhtar praised the efforts of all people involved in the publication of the book. He talked about the amalgamation of cultures and pluralism in Muztar's poetry. He also recited Muztar's famous poem, 'Motor Car' during his address.
Dr Siraj Ajmali said that the release of 'Kharman' also brings to light several other gems whose authorship has been similarly doubted. "The single most important contribution of Kharman is to showcase the depth and range of Urdu's most neglected yet most eclectic poet," he added.
Professor Shafey Kidwai pointed out that Muztar's poetry shows the ease with which poets of Muztar's generation used languages as ethnically diverse as Khari boli and Persian. "They hold many lessons for the people of our time, who tell us what is pure and what is impure and how the twain must never meet," added Prof Kidwai.
Professor Abul Kalam Qasmi said that Muztar's poetry should be archived and eternalized as it has the Indian sense of secularism which is instinctive and inclusive, and contains within it love and respect for the other.
While praising Mr Javed Akhtar for the release of 'Kharman,' former MLA and Congress leader, Mr Vivek Bansal said that he has been a lover of Urdu poetry and literature and would love to read more such rare collections.
Prof Kafil Ahmad Qasmi, Dean, Faculty of Arts pointed out that Muztar was well known for his naatia kalaam, 'Melaad-e-Mustafa' which is a well known collection of naat (sacred verses). He added that Muztar's poem Behr-e-Taweel and his Ghazal Marg-e-Ghalat ki Fariyad are considered remarkable examples of Urdu poetry.
While conducting the event, Prof Azarmi Dukht Safavi, Director, Institute of Persian Studies said that Muztar received numerous distinguishing titles, including Khan Bahadur, Eitbar-ul-Mulk, and Iftikhar-ul-Shaura during his life time. She added that Muztar's mother, Sayyed-un-Nisa Hirmaan Khairabadi was instrumental in his upbringing as she was an enlightened poetess herself.
Dr Mohd Ehtesham delivered the vote of thanks at the conclusion of the programme.