Nida Fazli: The people’s poet who distilled life!
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Nida Fazli: The people’s poet who distilled life!

18 years after the Partition, when his parents migrated to Pakistan, Nida Fazli chose to stay

Nida Fazli: The people’s poet who distilled life!

Insaan me haivaan yahan bhi hai wahan bhi,
Allah nigehbaan yahan bhi hai wahan bhi,
Khoonkhaar darindo ke faqat naam alag hain,
Shehron mein bayabaan yahan bhi hain wahan bhi,
Rahman ki rahmat ho ya bhagvan ki murat,
Har khel ka maidaan yahan bhi hai wahan bhi”

18 years after the Partition of India, when his parents migrated to Pakistan, a young Nida Fazli chose to stay in Mumbai, India. This single event resulted in a life of poetry on memories, nostalgia, and wistfulness: a few themes recurring when it comes to the partition. After his first visit to Pakistan, Fazli was struck by the idea that people’s suffering and its articulation was similar on both sides of the border.

Fazli composed many lines on the brutality of the politics which manufactured religious fanaticism and eventually led to the partition. He emphasised the need to focus instead, on the struggles, both social and philosophical, of people who were trying to come to terms with loss and displacement.

Muqtida Hasan Nida Fazli known as Nida Fazli, was a prominent Indian Hindi and Urdu poet, lyricist and dialogue writer whose soulful poetry surpassed borders. Born in Delhi, India into a Kashmiri family, Nida Fazli grew up in Gwalior, where he attended school and studied English literature.

Read | Journey of a theatre artist who has been performing since she turned 4

While still young, Fazli was passing by a Hindu temple where a bhajan singer was singing a composition of Surdas about Radha sharing her sorrow with her maids at being separated from her beloved Krishna. The emotional and the spiritual force that he felt relating inspired Nida to begin writing poems.

He absorbed the essence of Mir and Ghalib to express what he intended. He was fascinated by the lyrical mood of Meera and Kabir and widened his knowledge of poetry by studying TS Eliot, Gogol and Anton Chekhov.

In 1964, he moved to Mumbai in search of a job. After writing for magazines, he became popular as Hindi journalist. He started being invited for mushairas. What caught on with the people was the eloquence of his style and use of colloquial words in his poetry and lyrics making him a people’s poet. He became popular as a lyricist with songs including Aa Bhi Jaa (Sur), Tu Is Tarah Se Meri Zindagi Mein (Aap To Aise Na The) and Hosh Waalon Ko Khabar Kya (Sarfarosh).

He always found limitations in Urdu poetry. These were expressed in critical essays of contemporary poets of the sixties in his book Mulaqatein which outraged poets including Sahir Ludhianvi, Ali Sardar Jafri and Kaifi Azmi. As a result, he was boycotted in some poetic sessions.

“Badla na apne-ap ko jo the vahī rahe,milte rahe sabhī se magar ajnabī rahe”

His poem 'Maa' which he probably wrote on childhood memories of his mother after separation is a poignant account that can move anyone,

Besan ki sondhi roti par, khatti chatni jaisi maa
Yaad aati hai chauka, baasan, Chimta, phoonkni jaisi maa,
Baant ke apna chehra, maatha, aankhen jaane kahan gai
Phate puraane ik album mein chanchal ladaki jaisi maa”

His career improved when Kamal Amrohi, a filmmaker, approached him. The original songwriter Jan Nisar Akhtar working on the film Razia Sultan (1983) had died before completing the project. Nida wrote the final two songs and attracted other Hindi filmmakers.

“Hoshwalon ko khabar kya, bekhudi kya cheez hai,
Ishq ki jaye phir samajhiye, zindagi kya cheez hai”

This ghazal from Sarfarosh can move anyone with its truth on the power of love at first sight. It was as though Jagjit Singh felt the lyrics, immortalising it for the years to come. It is important to talk about the friendship of Jagjit Singh and Nida Fazli which resulted in a multitude of golden songs.

More melodies include:

“Duniya jise kehte hain, jadoo ka khilona hai; mil jaye to mitti hai, kho jaye to sona hai…”

“Meri aankhon ne chuna hai tujhe duniya dekh kar”

As fate would have it, Fazli Saab died on the same day as the birth anniversary of Jagjit Singh making February 8 a bittersweet day for music fans across borders.

A friendship and a strange coincidence

Fazli’s poetry and lyrics sum up his life, as though echoing Mira’s devotion for Krishna, the ambiguities of life, love and loss and an indefinite search.

In the end, I would like to quote,

“Kabhi kisi ko mukammal jahan nahi milta,
Kabhi zameen kabhi asmaan nahi milta,
Jise bhi dekhiye wo apne aap mein gum hai,
Zuban milti hai magar hamzuban nahi milta”

Singer Bhupinder Singh recollected that when he sat down, with Asha Bhosle, to read the song for the first time, they were filled with emotion. “The poet seemed to have poured far too much heart and reality into it,” the singer said. “It wasn’t just another ghazal. It didn’t put dreams in rhyme. This was the reality of existence and its crisis in verse,” he said.

On the occasion of Nida Fazli's birthday, this story has been replugged.