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Kaifi Azmi Centenary: A Humanitarian Poet, who Rose Against Religious Boundaries

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It’s poet Kaifi Azmi’s birth centenary, today. Prof. Ashoka pays a befitting tribute to the humanitarian poet, who rose against narrow and parochial religious boundaries. An exclusive for Different Truths.

Today (Jan 14) is the birth anniversary of one Akhtar Hussain Rizvi who was born exactly 100 years ago! We know him better as Kaifi Azmi Saheb! 

A litterateur and a poet par excellence, he had few peers who could match his style! He enthralled several generations through his talent. My own favourite Bollywood number viz Kuchh Dil Ne Kaha rendered so mellifluously in Raaga Bhimpalasi was penned by him and set to music by Hemant Mukherjee in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anupama! So are countless other tunes that still give goose bumps to several generations! I was extremely fortunate to have interacted with Kaifi Saheb on several occasions when he used to adorn mushairas in our school.

In addition to this, he was an arch humanist. I recall the interview he gave on the 8th of December 1992! When asked about the Ayodhya incident, he stated, “Kya baat hui!  Ibadatgah ko ibadatgah hi na rahne diya hai – koi sharaabghar ya juakhana to nahin banaya! Nadaan hai sab; yeh to samjhe ki sab ek hi khuda ki ibadat karte hain!” (What happened!A place of worship remained a place of worship – it wasn’t transformed into a bar or gambling den! Ignorant are all; let them understand that all worship the same god).

I was so moved and humbled that I could sense a lump in my throat!

Much later, I learned of another instance. His son was in love with actor Usha Kiran’s daughter Tanvi! Usha Kiran was livid and refused point blank to countenance a matrimonial alliance for her daughter with a Muslim! Kaifi Saheb drove to place and literally begged her not to let the courting couple part and promised to construct a temple in his house where she could pray every day! Usha Kiran reportedly broke down and wept inconsolably!  That temple incidentally still exists!

Let us pay homage to a poet among poets and a man above other men!

©Prof. Ashoka Jahnavi Prasad

Photos from the Internet

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