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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Shankar-Shaad Mushaira & the overall decline in standards of contemporary Urdu poetry

The Shankar Shad Mushaira held in Delhi
Frankly, this year's Shankar-Shaad mushaira was a letdown. I am not happy to say it but I felt depressed at the future of Urdu poetry.

Held in memory of late Lala Murlidhar 'Shaad' and Sir Shankarlal, it once used to be an important event in the literary calendar of Delhi.

The couplets recited and appreciated at this annual mushaira would spread all over the world in no time.

But over the years the mushaira had begun losing its sheen. This year the few remaning faces of Urdu poetry that still command audience were present but they also seemed to have lost their magic. Some of them looked tired.

The spat between Nida Fazli and Rahat Indori was in a bad taste. Shaharyar was repetitive and so were Munawwar Rana, Javed Akhtar and Bekal Utsahi. Besides, the entire generation of poets belonging to the Progressive Writers' Movement [Ali Sardar Jafri, Kaifi, Majrooh, Wamiq, Jazbi etc] is now gone.

And there is none to step into the shoes of even the old-timers like Shameem Jaipuri, Khumar Barabankvi. It was boring and the audience hooted the poets. To see Wasim Barelvi in his twilight makes one's eyes moist. Once his voice brought exhilaration among audiences.

There are few poets coming up. The last crop of 'mushaire-baaz' shayar [poets who specialised in reciting at soirees, rather, than literary shaaers] is also fading away and there is even no replacement for them now.

Ab iske baad sub'h hai aur sub'h-e-nau majaaz.
Hum par hai khatm shaame-e-gharibaaN-e-lucknow

5 comments:

bhupinder singh said...

Thanks for the report. It is indeed a sad fact that the tradition is in a state of continuous decline, it seems to be beyond any hope now.

I am often reminded of Kaifi Azmi's remark that Urdu poetry will keep Urdu alive. What if the poetry itself does not live?

urdudaaN said...

I am so sorry to be cribbing about it once again.
It is a disturbing trend that lakhnau(lucknow?) cannot be transliterated according to Urdu even if it is part of an Urdu sher(couplet), let alone a city name.
Nevertheless, I have to accept it as a fact.

However, sircar has been re-transliterated as sarkar now, making the former least known.

indscribe said...

Urdudaan bhai,
As a surname, Sarkar is more popularly used now but the families who keep writing Sircar or even Circar also exist.
Who can change Tagore that is in fact Thakur pronounce by British as THAYGORE and written Tagore?
Aren't there spellings which look awkward when written but we all read them correctly. Even in Urdu the Arabic variants that are tough for learners of Urdu to master are like that. I find it also a beauty. Language is language that has developed over centuries and people accept that. If everything becomes similar then what beauty will be left? I don't see Lucknow as a colonial hangover because we do pronounce it as Lakhnau. Over 90% of residents of Ahmedabad call their city call their city Amdavad so shall we accept that and start writing it as Amdavad. In case of names the diversity looks beauty. The old debate of whethere Tota should be written with Tay or To always exasperated me. What disgusts me more is when Punjabis speak Urdu and strangulate the language. Qaaf becomes kaaf and the grammer is torn apart, when people say 'samajh nahin aaya' instead of 'samajh mein nahin aaya'. This hurts me more because if Lucknow remains Lucknow for ages and is pronounced correctly and is written similary in Urdu script, why the worry? English spelling I can't change, a Urdu speaker who officially constitutes only 6% of India's population.

urdudaaN said...

Poetry being the lifeline of Urdu, a tangible decline in its quality should definitely set the alarms off. Thanks for keeping us abreast with this negative development. You really have an eye for details, apparent from the example in your comment above.

Coming back to transliteration, I would like to reiterate my point more clearly, though I find your argument about the use of established spellings compelling.

If I were to transliterate this English sentence "I speak Arabic" into Urdu script, I would write something like
آئی اسپیک اریبک
And not,
آئی اسپیک عربی

Similarly, you could say something like "The poet is from Lucknow". But, while transliterating(not translating) text(taKHallus, sheAr) from the original script, one has to be as accurate in sounds as possible.

Transliteration is more about recreating the sounds with a different tool(script) rather than fitting commonly used patterns(spellings from the language of the target script).

Anonymous said...

THANKS FOR THE INFORMATION ABOUT SHANKAR SHAD MUSHAIRAH. WHILE I WAS IN DELHI. I ALWAYS WENT TO LISTEN ''SHANKAR SHAD MUSHAIRAH'' IN THE PAST THIS MUSHAIRAH HAD VERY GOOD REPUTATION. THIS YEAR ALSO ALL THE POETS PARICIPATED IN THIS MUSHAIRAH ARE WELL KNOWN AN HAVE MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO URDU POETRY AND LITERATUTRE . I THINK POETRY IS STILL ALIVE BUT THE AUDIANCE UNDERSTANDING IS GOING DOWN.
I WAS SURPRISED THAT THERE ARE MANT EMINENT POETS ARE IN DELHI BUT THEY WERE NOT INVITED IN THIS MUSHIRAH LIKE GULZAR DELHVI, MUZAFFAR HANFI,MAKHMOOR SAEEDI ETC.