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Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Keats of Urdu poetry: Majaz Lakhnavi

Asrarul Haq Majaz was the darling of the Urdu world, the most famous and loved poet of his generation. His nazm, 'Aawara' Aye gham-e-dil kya karoon, Aye wahshat-e-dil kya karoon....[What to do O aching heart, what to do O frenzy wild] is considered one of the most popular verses of Urdu poetry.

Majaz was the uncle of Javed Akhtar and brother-in-law of Jaan Nisaar Akhtar. He was born in 1911 in Rudauli (UP). He was the first Urdu poet who looked at woman with a different persepective, as a 'hamsafar' [companion] and yearned for an intelligent, enlightened and equal life partner.

His ghazal 'Tere maathe pe yeh anchal bohot khoob hai/ Lekin tu isse ek parcham bana leti to achchha thaa' was the foremost progressive voice in 30s.

A darling of poetry-lovers, Majaz was so popular that Ismat Chughtai recounts, Girls college mein ladkiyan usse shaadi ke liye qura nikaalti theen"[it was a pastime among hostel girls to play draw of lots to decide which girl will marry him].

Kuchh tujhko hai khabar ham kya kya ai shorish-e-dauraan bhool gaye
Woh zulf-e-pareeshan bhool gaye, woh deedae-giryan bhool gaye

Ab gul se nazar milti nahin, ab dil ki kali khilti nahin
Ai fasl-e-bahaaran rukhsat ho hum to luft-e-bahaaran bhool gaye

Ai shauq-e-nazaara kya kahiye, nigahon mei koi surat hi nahin
Ai zauq-e-tasavvur kya kahiye hum to surat-e-jaanan hi bhool gaye

Sab ka madawa kar daala apna madawa kar na sake
Sab ke gireban see daale apna hi girebaan bhool gaye

Ab apni wafa ka yeh aalam hai, unki wafa ko kya kahiye
Ek nashtar-e-zeher aageen rakh kar sarhaane, rag-e-jaan bhool gaye

Click for Majaz's ghazal in Urdu, Hindi and Roman scripts here.

Majaz was the natural choice when All India Radio started airing its programmes and he named the Urdu programme 'Awaz'. But his unrequited love affair with a girl and financial problems cost him dearly.

This unique generation of poets had awaited the dawn of independence and dreamt of an independent nation. He wrote anti-imperialistic poems like 'Musafir bhaag waqt-e-baykasi hai/tere sar par ajal mandra rahi hai....and the immensely popular Tarana-e-Alighar...Sarshaar-e-nigaah-e-nargis hoon'

Along with his potery, his wit was becoming legendary and he was always mobbed. People wanted to have the honour of drinking with the famous poet. But he was losing his mental balance.

As Josh once told him, Majaz ghadi rakh kar piya karo' asking him to drink steadily, the maverick poet laughingly said,' Josh sahab main ghada rakh kar peeta hoon'.

Once Josh wrote 'Pindnama' in a magazine asking him to cut down on his drinking while praising Sheikh Abduallah [of Kashmir] in the same breath and Majaz replied,

'Nutq hairaan, dahan dareeda hai, yeh shuneeda nahin deeda hai, rind-e-barbaad ko naseehat hai, sheikh ki shaan mein qaseeda hai'.

Whatever Majaz wrote...either.....

Jalaal-e-aatish o barq-e-sahaab paida kar, ajal bhi kaanp uthe tu woh shabaab paida kar
Tu inquilab ki aamad ka intezar na kar, jo ho sake to inquilab paida kar
Chhalkein tere aariz se gulaab aur zyada. Allah kare zor-e-shabaab aur zyada...

And the lesser poetic:

Ilaahabad mein har soo hain charche ki dilli ka sharaabi aa gaya hai
Guaabi laao chhalkao ki shaida-e-gulaabi aa gaya hai
Yahan ke shaharyaaron ko khabardaar kar do ki woh mard-e-inquilabi aa gaya hai

His poetry struck chord with the generation of youths before and after independence. But the bloody riots of partition and bloodshed in Punjab shocked the nation and more so the progressive poets.

Poets were lamenting like Wamiq Jaunpuri who wrote: Yeh do-aab hai, sah-aab hai, Punjab nahin. Majaz was also left disillusioned. He fell ill and after recovery he was no longer the same person.

On a chilly winter night, he was taken away by a group of 'fans' who left him all alone on a hotel roof after drinking till late night, and he died alone in the bitter cold. Lucknow mourned and the nation mourned. At the age of 44.

Ab iske baad sub'h hai aur sub'h-e-nau majaz/ hum par hai khatm shaam-e-ghareeban-e-lucknow.... A part of Lucknow died that day.

bohat mushkil hai dunyaa ka saNvarnaa
teri zulf ka pech-o-kham nahii hai

Read seven best ghazals and Nazms of Majas in Urdu, Hindi [devanagri] and Roman English scripts at Best Ghazals.


Majaz said...


That's a whole lot of information about Majaz that I didn't know..

Thanks... I'd heard that ghazal before... soorat e jan'an bhool gaye... I didn't know Majaz had written it..

rabfish said...

What a fantastic blog about Urdu poetry, its history and your take on it. I like that whole hamsafar concept :)

Would you consider occasionally translating some of the most compelling/more difficult couplets for your diaspora readers? :)

Thanks for the blog, rabfish

Vinayak said...

I am writing a few lines about him at my blog and found your article very helpful.
Thanks for the brilliant write up!

वर्षा said...

pahle akhbar me is blog ke baare me padha, phir blog padha, achcha tha, ek line khas taur par...tere mathe pe ye aanchal bahut khoob hai, lekin too isse parcham bana leti to achcha tha

Mohammad Irfan said...


Mohammad Irfan said...

good work done.

Shahrukh ;-) said...

A free flowing translation of the original Marathi article by Madhav Moholkar.

Published in his book "Geetyatri". Originally published in the Diwali issue of the journal
'A Ba Ka Da Ee'.

Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?
by Shahrukh

It was only after I stepped into Mumbai city that I truly understood
the poem 'Awara' by Majaz. I used to stay in Hotel Majestic, which was located opposite Regal Cinema. And often during those early days in Mumbai, I used to step out for long walks in the evenings. And at every step, I remembered Majaz. Especially, when I strolled from Nariman Point and went along the lights on Marine Drive to Chowpatty.

Majaz would have aimlessly walked around these streets - turning
wherever the heart pleased ... in an unfamiliar city of lights and
lonely lanes, his sole companion was - a heart overwhelmed with
unbearable grief ...

Shahar Ki Raat Aut Main Naashaad-o-Naakaara Phiroo
Jagmagaati-Jaagati Sadko Pe Awaara Phiroo
Gair Ki Basti Hain Kab Tak, Dar-Ba-Dar Maara Phiroo
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?

For the metropolis called Mumbai, Marine Drive was The Queen's
Necklace. For Majaz it was a sharp, gilt-edged sword piercing his heart:

Jhilmilaate KumKumonki Raah Mein Zanjeer-see
Raat Ke Haatho Mein Din Ki Mohini Tasveer-See
Mere Seene Par Magar Dehki Huee Shamsheer-see
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?

The night would smile and the house of wine would beckon Majaz. And
later he would even get seduced by the charms of some unknown beauty.
And there were times when none of that would be possible ... he would
drift to some isolated place ...

Raat Has Has Ke Yeh Kahti Hain Ki Maikhaane Mein Chal
Phir Kisi Shahnaaz-E-Lala-Rukh Ke Kashane Mein Chal
Yeh Nahi Mumkin To Phir Aye Dost Veerane Mein Chal
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?

Another glittering Mumbai evening ...
The Taj Mahal Hotel ...
And the moon rising behind it ...

Majaz saw the moon differently ...

the moon was a Mulla's pagdi ...
a grocer's account book ...
the youth of a destitute ...
and the charms of a widow ...
All pale. All dull!

Ek Mahal Ki Aad Se Nikla Woh Peela Mahtab
Jaise Mulla Ka Amama, Jaise Baniye Ki Kitaab
Jaise Mufliss Ki Jawani, Jaise Bewa Ka Shabab
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?

When I first heard the strains of
'Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?,

Talat's voice went straight to the heart ...
and Majaz's words found a permanent place.

I was in college then in 1953, and 'Thokar' starring Shammi Kapoor and
Shyama had just been released. The music was by Sardar Malik.

And I saw Shammi Kapoor walking down the streets singing ...
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?

The pathos of Majaz and my youthful heart ...
the combination was captivating
and I was hooked ... by
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?

I tried to find out more about Majaz and discovered that he was not a
lyricist but a renowned poet in Urdu literary circles.
And Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?
was not a song but two verses from his poem 'Awara' strung into a

I immediately got a friend to write out the complete poem for me.
After that for many, many days and over long, long nights -
I was only reading the poem ... again and again, enjoying it more and
more, feeling it intensely and also trying to understand it.

And the Talat magic was now also at work ...
the musings of a Sufi mystic and the reverie of the beloved ...
had merged!

Yeh Rupahli Chhav, Yeh Aakash Par Taaronka Jaal
Jaise Sufi Ka Tasavvur, Jaise Aashiq Ka Khayal
Aah Lekin Kaun Samjhe, Kaun Jaane Jee Ka Haal
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?

And then Majaz expressed the very quintessence of all his life and
persona ...

In lines which almost shriek with helplessness ...

Raaste Mein Ruk ke Dum Loo, Yeh Meri Aadat Nahi
Lautkar Vaapas Chala Jaoo, Yeh Meri Fitrat Nahi
Aur Koi Humanwa Mil Jaaye, Yeh Kismat Nahi
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?

For me to take a breather ... that is not my habit.
To retrace my steps ... that is not my nature.
To get a companion or a co-traveller ...
that is not my destiny
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?

For the next six years, Talat's strains became my soul companions.
Only in 1959, did I realize that every note of Talat had Majaz's very
soul enveloped in it.

A friend, Nishikant Thakar gifted me Majaz's collection of poems.
I wonder how, but somehow I had realized by then that Majaz had
written 'Awara' in Mumbai and written it with tremendous anguish
about the city.

But I had not seen Mumbai till then and the poem did not
make the kind of impact ... which it did after I experienced Majaz's

And then I found another astonishing aspect.

I was attending the 1957 Sahitya Sammelan in Aurangabad. One of those
evenings I saw Pyaasa. And the film left its spell on me ... to the
extent that I saw it for four consecutive days, at times, even bunking
the literary sessions! And from the moment, I saw Pyaasa till I got
Majaz's book I used to believe that every line in Pyaasa was Sahir's
work. But when I read Majaz's book the feeling of deja vu kept
occuring ... the heart averred that I had 'heard' these lines

And then once at midnight the lines crashed through my deep sleep and
it suddenly struck me - Pyaasa!

- the Jaane Woh Kaise Log The Jinke ... sequence ... YES !

The affluent publisher Ghosh has hosted a party.
Many renowned poets are present at the evidently highbrow event.
Vijay the poet is the 'naukar'.
And Mrs. Ghosh is Vijay's former love.
She is about to serve the spirits to the guests when Ghosh
ticks her off ...
"Naukronke Hote Hue Tum Kyon Taqleef karti Ho Dear?
Vijay, Sochte Kya Ho ... Jaam Do ..."

And one shaayar presents his ghazal ...

Roodaad-E-Gham-E-Ulfat Unse, Hum Kya Kehte, Kyonkar Kahate?
Ek Harf Na Nikla Hotho Se Aur Aankh Mein Aansoo Aa Bhi Gaye ...
Uss Mehfil-E-Kaifi-Masti Mein, Uss Anjuman-E-Irfani Mein
Sab Jaam-Ba-Kuff Baithe Hi Rahe, Hum Pee Bhi Gaye - Chalka Bhi Gaye ...

How can I relate this tale of a lost love? What could I say?
Not a word escaped the lips, and the eye was full with tears ...
In the mehfil of of joy and frolic, the erudite, merely sat with their
goblets ...
But the wine I drank ... and my goblet was overflowing ...

The story of unexpressed love was none other than Majaz's ...
not just Sahir's.
And may be the saga of every poet in this world.

A senior poet then presents his sher ...

Kaam Aakhir Jazba-E-Beikhtiar Aa Hi Gaya
Dil Kuch Iss Surat Se Tadpa Unko Pyar Aa Hi Gaya ...

Vijay hears this and his feelings find their way in ...

Jaane Woh Kaise, Log The Jinke, Pyar Ko Pyar Mila ...

Clearly, Majaz belonged to the line of poets who got only sorrow in
return for their love.

Actually, any girl would have been swept off her feet by Majaz
who was a handsome and sensitive man, as well as a poet !

Ismat Chugtai once stated that there was a time when the girls in
Aligarh Muslim College threw lots with Majaz's name on their chits.
His poems were under their pillows - they often swore that if nothing
worked out they would name their sons Majaz.

Amidst the tinkling bangles, girly giggles & flying dupattas -
wafted Majaz's poems! Nothing but Majaz was on the girl's minds !
And they also had questions galore - what does Majaz do, where does
Majaz stay, is Majaz involved with some girl ?

These were Majaz's college days as he completed his B.A. in Aligarh
Muslim University. After college, Majaz, came to Delhi in 1936
and worked with All India Radio as Editor of their journal,
which Majaz had christened 'Aawaaz'.

And in Delhi, Majaz fell in love.
And as the story goes, he was jolted in love.

Nobody really knows what happened in Delhi - it is said that
a beautiful woman from Delhi's highbrow circles had a special
place in Majaz's tender heart. And that she was already married.

But Majaz's heart was shattered.
He left Delhi and carried those broken splinters back to Lucknow.

Rukhsat-E-Delhi Teri Mehfil Se Ab Jaata Hoon Main
Nauhagar Jaata Hoon, Nala-E-Lub Jaata Hoon Main

And after that Majaz seems to have entirely lost his balance -
there was no limit to his drinking.

In 1940, he got his first nervous breakdown.
He used to repeatedly say "One girl wants to marry me.
But my rival is constantly threatening to poison me."
Majaz's parents tried all kinds of treatments and managed to somehow
restore a sense of balance. And they thought of the remedy that
parents would normally think of. Find a girl and get Majaz to settle
down. But now the world looked at Majaz differently. He had acquired a
reputation of not being 'sane'. The world now saw his shortcomings.
The girls who were once his greatest admirers, were now scared by the
prospect of a lunatic.

But for the sake of his parents and his sisters, Majaz had consciously
decided to behave 'normally.' One of Majaz's sisters - Safiya was
married to Jaan Nisaar Akhtar, the lyricist and poet and father of
Javed Akhtar.

For some time, Majaz worked with the 'Bombay Information Bureau.' He
later enrolled for a degree in Law at the Lucknow University. With
Sibt-E-Hassan and Ali Sardar Jafri, he also worked on a periodical
'Naya Adab'. He then joined Delhi's Harding's Library as Assistant
Librarian. His parents found a girl for him and just when everyone
thought that Majaz was about to tie the knot, the girl's father who
was a Government Servant, turned down the proposal.

That struck another blow! And in 1945, Majaz again lost his mental
balance. He used to go around talking about his greatness - a
megalomania of sorts ... he would make a list of great poets and
after Ghalib and Iqbal he would put his own name ...

His family left no stone unturned and with all kinds of medical
attention, Majaz recovered.

But he found life to be futile and could never overcome his
loneliness. He tried but could never lead a life like the ordinary
folk around him and he spent the rest of his life immersed in alcohol.
He drowned all the bitterness in the bottle ... till the end of his

Ham Maikade Ki Raah Se Hokar Guzar Gaye
Varna Safar Hayaat Ka Behad Taveel Tha ...

"Majaz had gone insane twice - he is drunk all the time and wanders
aimlessly." Sahir Ludhianvi introuduced Majaz in this fashion in
the journal 'Savera' published from Lahore. Majaz was terribly hurt.
He responded like a true poet ...

Kuch To Hain Mohabbat Mein Junoon Ka Asar
Aur Kuch Log Bhi Deewana Bana Dete Hain!

One goes nuts in love and often some people also drive you so ...

But Sahir loved Majaz and both were true friends.
When everyone around taunted Majaz about his drinking,
he was quick to lash out ...

Main Sharaab Peeta Hoon
Tum Kya Peete Ho?
Aadmi Ka Khoon?

Sahir could never forget these lines. In fact, he wanted to make a
movie on Majaz's life. He could not make the film but he made a
Rafi song out of these lines in Naya Raasta which was tuned by
N.Datta ...

Maine Pee Sharaab,
Tune Kya Peeya?
Aadmi Ka Khoon?

Majaz & Sahir came to Mumbai to try their hand in films. An
acquaintance fixed an an appointment for them with the Producer
Director P.N.Arora who was in the proces of making a film called
Hoor-E-Arab (The Arabian Beauty).

It was a boiling hot, summer afternoon and Arora kept the poets
waiting on a bench outside his air-conditioned cabin. Helen who was
then Arora's paramour entered the cabin. And the chances of the duo
meeting Arora were getting slimmer as they waited. Majaz was extremely
upset by the heat and this treatment. The acquaintance, who had lined
up the appointment appeared and said ...

"Aadaab Arz Hain Sahir Sahab! Aadaab Arz Hain Majaz Sahab !
Hoor-E-Arab Ke Gaanonki Kuch Baat Huee?"

"Jee Abhi Tak To Nahi" said Sahir.

"Kyon?" the acquaintance enquired.

"Kyonki", Majaz retorted wiping his brow, "Hoor to kab se andar hain,
aur hum to bahar Arab mein baithe hain!"

The pun and the repartee was indeed Majaz's forte.

The famed, revolutionary pet Josh Malihabaadi recounts this anecdote
in his autobiography "Yaadon Ki Baraat" which was banned by the
Government of Pakistan. He once advised Majaz on drinking.

"Dekho Majaz, Sharaab peene ka sahi tareeqa yeh hain ki aahista
aahista pee jaaye. Main bees minute mein ek peg khatam karta hoon. Aur
hamesha ghadi saamne rakhkar peeta hoon. Tum Bhi ghadi saamne rakhkar
peeya karo !"

"Ghadi Rakhkar?" Majaz was sceptical, "Mera Bus Chale to Main GhadAA
rakhkar Peeya Karoo !"

Like Majaz was upset with Sahir he was also irked by Josh.

Majaz had been discharged froom the mental hospital and though he
looked normal, he was not entirely cured of his ailment. Josh did not
know this.

Majaz once called the Commissioner of Delhi and asked him for one
hundred rupees. When Josh heard this, he pulled up Majaz and remarked
that with this action of Majaz - the very dignity of poetry had bitten
the dust.

Majaz did not say a word but quietly wrote ...

Jo Guzarti Hain Kalb-E-Shaayar Par
Shaayar-E-Inquilaab Kya Jaane ...

What would the revolutionary poet know
about a tender romantic poet's heart !

Basically, Majaz was an extremely sensitive, romantic poet. From the
beginning he had a tremendous attraction for love and beauty. Even as
a child, if a beautiful lady visited his home, Majaz would forget
everything else and gaze at her for hours! Though Majaz's poetry
flowered under the guidance of 'Jazbi' and Phaani' - he had a
particular soft corner for the romantic poet who wrote "Aye Ishq Hame
Barbaad Na Kar" - Akhtar Shirani.

The Urdu writer Prakash Pandit has remembers a touching incident about
this. After the Indo- Pak partition in 1948, Sahir and Pandit had started an Urdu journal 'Shahraah' in Delhi. They had just found a new home in a
Muslim basti of Delhi. The situation was rife with communal tension at
that time so both were quietly shifting to their new home in the night.
Sahir was shifting their belongings inside the house and Prakash was
staying guard outside.

Suddenly a good looking man with sharp features came staggering along,
very obviously drunk and he kept muttering ... "Akhtar Shirani Mar
Gaya ... Tu Urdu Ka Bahut Bada Shaayar Tha ... Bahut Bada" he kept
repeating these lines with agitated gestures ... Prakash was a little
unnerved ... Josh Malihabadi who also lived in the same neighbourhood
came along and recognized Prakash ... Josh immediately said ...
"Inhe Samhalo Prakash ... Yeh Majaz Hain."

Prakash Pandit saw the creator of Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo in such
circumstances ... as Majaz grieved over the passing away of Akhtar
Shirani ...

Actually Akhtar Shirani and Majaz had many aspects in common. The
poetry of both had the pathos of a directionless life as their central
theme. And of course there was liquor. And yet another was - the beloved.
Shirani wrtote about Salma or Azra whereas Majaz wrote about his
'Zohra-Jabee' These names were similar to the names of their real loves.

In real terms, although Majaz loved Akhtar Shirani, he had gone far
ahead of Shirani as a poet.

Although Majaz too wrote about Love and Beauty, his poems always
retained a a social consciousness. Instead of fantasizing a world of
Love and Beauty somewhere else, Majaz rebelled against the customs and
traditions which constrained these emotions. Although helpless himself
he always wrote against the shackles of the religious establishment.

Yeh Majboori Si Majboori, Yeh Laachari Si Laachari
Ki Uske Geet Bhi, Jee Kholkar Main Gaa Na Saka
Hade Woh Kheech Rakhi Hain, Haram Ke Pasbaanone
Ki Bin Mujrim Bane Paigaam Bhi Pahuncha Na Saka

Despite Love being his central theme, Majaz expressed his anger
against social injustice with such a force that a senior Urdu poet
and critic Asar Lucknawi observed, "A Keats was born in Urdu poetry
too, but he was devoured by the conservative wolves."

Although he was a romantic like Keats, Majaz had looked at his own
personal highs and lows with a social perspective. No poet can stay
in the air for too long and at some stage gets his feet on the ground.
Majaz had introduced this progressive approach way before the
Progressive Writers Association was formed.

Khoob Pahchaan Lo Asraar Hoon Main
Jin Se Ulfat Ka Talabgaar Hoon Main
Khwaab-E-Ishrat Mein hain Arbab-E-Khirad
Aur Ek Shaayar-E-Bedaar Hoon Main
Aib Jo Haafeez-O-Khayyam Mein Tha
Haan Kuch Uska Bhi Gunhegaar Hoon Main
Hoor-O-Gil Ma Ka Yaha Zikr Nahi
Nau-E-Insaan Ka Parastaar Hoon Main

My name is Asraar (Asraar Ul Haq was Majaz's true name)
I am in search of love.
All intellectuals are dreaming. Asleep.
I am awake. And I am a poet.
Haafiz and Khayyam paid tributes to Beauty and Wine.
I too am a little guilty of that crime.
You will not find heavenly damsels and angels
In my writings ...
Because I am a worshipper of humanity ...

Majaz's writings always had a progressive strain.
It was never propaganda, but was a statement of his own
experience of it. And hence the progressive line of thought finds
an extremely sensitive & artistic expression in his work.

In the preface to Majaz's 'Aahang", the famous progressive poet Faiz
Ahmed Faiz wrote "Majaz never beat the drums of revolution, he hummed
revolutions!" Almost unknowingly, Majaz had imbibed the progressive
thought and that manifested in his work.

In Awara (1937), he wrote ...

Mufalissi Aur Yeh Majahir Hain Nazar Ke Saamne
Sekdo Sultan-E-Jaabir Hain Nazar Ke Saamne
Sekdo Changez-O-Nadir Hain Nazar Ke Saamne
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?

Majaz did not lament his own individual helplessness, but also those
of a society, of his times. And to forget all these sorrows, Majaz had
them drowned in alcohol. Neither did he eat or sleep. He only
wanted the bottle.

The highbrow and the affluent, pandered only to this need of
Majaz. Many a glittering party and mehfil saw a Majaz drowning himself
in spirits as he sang the agonies of his heart.
To the rich audiences this was entertainment. When he tired or fell
unconscious, these so called bigwigs got their drivers to drop him
off. Or lock him away in a secluded room in their mansions.

After his second nervous breakdown, Majaz was treated with great
difficulty in the mental hospital at Ranchi. But Majaz did not change
one bit after he was released.

And then came yet another evening. Another mehfil - when Majaz drank
away. When he fell unconscious, his friends left him behind in the
bar. (Apparently, one of them was Jalal Malihabadi who wrote Mujhe
Kisise Pyar Ho Gaya in Barsaat).

Only God know how the helpless Majaz, spent the freezing night, all

The next day on December 15, 1955, he was taken to hospital ...
where a nerve snapped and everything was over ...

I read about Majaz's tragic end about four years later ...
And I felt sad as if he had just passed away ...

However, Majaz had told his friends long back ...

Mere Barbaadiyon Ka Hamnasheenon
Tumhe Kya, Khud Mujhe Bhi Gham Nahi Hain ... !

For many days after that, I remembered many of Majaz's lines ...

'Ab Tum mere Paas Aayee Ho, To Kyon Aayee Ho?'

'Mujhe Jaana Hain Ek Din Tere Bazm-E-Naaz Se Aakhir'

'Bataoon Kya Tujhe Aye Hamnashee! Kisse Mohabbat Hain?'

'Rukhsat Aye Humsafari! Shahr-E-Nigar Aa Hi Gaya'

Majaz had broken the strings of existence but his voice still
echoed ... somewhere deep down in the heart ...

Chhup Gaye Woh Saaz-E-Hasti Chhedkar
Ab To Bas Aawaaz hi Aawaaz Hain ...

Much later, while reading Kamleshwar's 'Dak Bangla' my mind again
flashed back to Majaz.

The character - Ira describes one Hemendra Batra. He looks fierce
almost scary but once he is drunk he oozes humility. His dignity and
innocence manifested only when drunk. And in his collection of Western
pop songs, there was but one exception ... one Hindustani record ...
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?

Ira recalls Hemendra's life ...
of how he used to get agitated and pace up and down his room listening
to those lines ...

Gair Ki Basti Hain Kab Tak Dar-Ba-Dar Phiroo ...
Gair Ki Basti Hain

And throughout her life, Ira recalls these lines and finds newer
meanings at every turn ...

Just the other day at Bhulabhai Desai auditorium, a program was held
in Faiz Ahmed Faiz's honour. And as Ali Sardar Jafri spoke, he
remembered Majaz and was visibly moved.

He fondly remembered ... one late night, in Lucknow after a mehfil ...
Majaz, Faiz, Jazbi and Jafri strolled across to the terrace of Moti
Mahal ... on the banks of Gomti.

The mehfil came alive again ...
And Majaz for the first time recited Awara ...

And he expressed his feelings so poignantly in ...
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?
that a resounding "Wah Wah' echoed from across the Gomti!

This could only happen in Lucknow, mused Jafri with tears in his eyes.

Even Shailendra had recorded in his diary ...
Of a drunk Majaz, and how he had poured his life into every
line as he sang ...
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ...?

I once narrated all this to Talat Mahmood.
He grew restless and started recalling Majaz's days in Lucknow ...
and unknowingly slipped into the song ...

Raaste Mein Ruk ke Dum Loo, Yeh Meri Aadat Nahi
Lautkar Vaapas Chala Jaoo, Yeh Meri Fitrat Nahi

And Talat paused ... when he hummed the line ...

Aur Koi Humanwa Mil Jaaye, Yeh Kismat Nahi

to exclaim "Wah Majaz!"

A moment later, Talat was simply overwhelmed
when I remarked ...

Saari Mehfil Jispe Jhoom Uthi 'Majaz'
Woh To Aawaaz-E-Shikast-E-Saaz Hain ...

The mehfil had applauded with joy ...
To the sounds of the string - which has snapped ...

(End of translation)

A brief bio of Majaz picked up from the net ...

Majaz Lucknawi

Born 1909. Rudauli. Barabanki District Uttar Pradesh,

Real name : Asrar ul Haq.

He regarded Faani Badayuni, Jazbi and Akhtar Shirani as his ustaad's.
Shab-e-taab, Aahang, Saaz-e-nau & Awara are his major writings.

Majaz passed away on 5th December 1955 in Lucknow.


shahar kii raat aur mai.n naashaad-o-naakaaraa phiruu.N
jag_magaatii jaagatii sa.Dako.n pe aavaaraa phiruu.N
Gair kii bastii hai kab tak dar badar maraa phiruu.N

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

jhil_milate qum_qumo.n kii raah me.n zanjiir sii
raat ke haatho.n me.n din kii mohanii tasviir sii
mere siine par magar chalatii hu_ii shamashiir sii

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

ye rupahalii chhaao.N ye aakaash par taaro.n kaa jaal
jaise suufii kaa tasavvur jaise aashiq kaa Khayaal
aah lekin kaun jaane kaun samajhe jii kaa haal

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

phir vo TuuTaa ik sitaaraa phir vo chhuuTii phul_jha.Dii
jaane kis kii god me.n aaye ye motii kii la.Dii
huuk sii siine me.n uThii choT sii dil par pa.Dii

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

raat ha.Ns ha.Ns kar ye kahatii hai ke maiKhaane me.n chal
phir kisii shah_naaz-e-laalaaruKh ke kaashaane me.n chal
ye nahii.n mumkin to phir ai dost viiraane me.n chal

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

har taraf bikharii hu_ii rangiiniyaa.N raanaa_iiyaa.N
har qadam par isharate.n letii huii anga.Daiiyaa.N
ba.Dh rahii hai god phailaaye hue rusavaa_iiyaa.N

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

raaste me.n ruk ke dam le luu.N merii aadat nahii.n
lauT kar vaapas chalaa jaa_uu.N merii fitarat nahii.n
aur ko_ii ham_navaa mil jaaye ye qismat nahii.n

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

muntazir hai ek tuufaan-e-balaa mere liye
ab bhii jaane kitane daravaaze hai.n vaa mere liye
par musibat hai meraa ahad-e-vafaa mere liye

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

jii me.n aataa hai ki ab ahad-e-vafaa bhii to.D duu.N
un ko paa sakataa huu.N mai.n ye aasaraa bhii chho.D duu.N
haa.N munaasib hai ye zanjiir-e-havaa bhi to.D duu.N

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

ik mahal kii aa.D se nikalaa vo piilaa maah_taab
jaise mullaah kaa amaamaa jaise baniye kii kitaab
jaise muflis kii javaanii jaise bevaa kaa shabaab

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

dil me ek sholaa bha.Dak uThaa hai aaKhir kyaa karuu.N
meraa paimaanaa chhalak uThaa hai aaKhir kyaa karuu.N
zaKhm siine kaa mahak uThaa hai aaKhir kyaa karuu.N

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

muflisii aur ye mazaahir hai.n nazar ke saamane
saika.Do.n changez-o-naadir hai.n nazar ke saamane
saika.Do.n sultaan jaabar hai.n nazar ke saamane

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

le ke ik changez ke haatho.n se Khanjar to.D duu.N
taaj par us ke damakataa hai jo patthar to.D duu.N
ko_ii to.De yaa na to.De mai.n hii ba.Dhakar to.D duu.N

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

ba.Dh ke is indar-sabhaa kaa saaz-o-saamaa.N phuu.Nk duu.N
is kaa gul_shan phuu.Nk duu.N us kaa shabistaa.N phuu.Nk duu.N
taKht-e-sultaa.N kyaa mai.n saaraa qasr-e-sultaa.N phuu.Nk duu.N

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

jii me.n aataa hai ye murdaa chaa.Nd-taare noch luu.N
is kinaare noch luu.N aur us kinaare noch luu.N
ek do kaa zikr kyaa saare ke saare noch luu.N

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

indscribe said...

shukria Shahrukh sahab

sufiyana said...

Aadab aur shukria Shahrukh sahab

Shailesh said...

Thanks for writing your blog! I loved the article on Majaz - you are doing a wonderful service to Urdu enthusiasts and fans of Shaayari like myself.

I first listened to Talat sing
'Aye gham-e-dil kya karoon' when I was in my teens growing up in Nagpur and it left a haunting impression - even though I did not understand most urdu lyrics then - or knew anything about Majaz.

I now live in the US and recently bought a Talat CD and was re-introduced to Majaz's poetry. I have spent many nights wandering the streets of Washington DC feeling like an outsider and now completely understand the restlessness in Majaz's heart when he penned those painful lyrics.

Bahut bahut shukriya!

waseem said...

veeery nice information ... i am a die hard fan of majaz .. infact i have blog dedicated to him only ...


Mohd. Muzzammil Shah said...

I'm glad to see a blog that represents urdu poet and poetry. I've learnt alot from it. Majaz is the poet who wrote the college song for A.M.U.I didn't know it. I've written a poet on Sir Syed
(A REVOLUTIONARY) you can read it on my blog. Thanks for designing such a good site for urdu.