He was undergoing treatment in a Delhi hospital where he passed away on December 3.
Bekal Utsahi was 87. He belonged to Balrampur (UP).
An ambassador of communal harmony, ganga-jamni culture, Bekal Utsahi used the Purbi language and expressions from Awadhi, Hindi and Braj in his poetry.
Apart from Ghazals and Nazms, he also wrote dohas and 'geet'. Mohammad Shafi, who later became 'Bekal' belonged to a Zamindar family.
He had interest in poetry from an early age and wrote rebellious poetry during the British rule.
One of his couplets:
Azm mohkam ho to hoti hain balaae.n paspaa
Kitne tuufaa.n palaT deta hai saahil tanha
He went to jail. For almost seven decades, he wrote poetry. He attended Mushairas across the world. Bekal was widely respected and was listened with respect in Kavi Sammelans too.
Apart from literature, he was also active in other fields. He was a member of Rajya Sabha [Upper house of Parliament]. Government of India honoured him with 'Padma Sri'.
How Bekal Warsi became Bekal Utsahi
Seeing his passion while reciting his poetry, first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had termed him 'Utsahi' [Utsah=Enthusiasm]. In the mushaira, Bekal was reciting the verse 'Kisan Bharat Ka'.
Nehru was impressed with his poetry. Hence, 'Utsahi' became a part of his name since then. And, Bekal Warsi became Bekal Utsahi.
Sample his couplets:
Bech de apni aan, apni zabaan, apna zameer
Phir tere haath mein sone ke niwaale honge
Kal raat unko dekha thaa Urdu libas me
Koi ye kah raha tha ki agla chunaao hai
Ulajh rahe hain bohat log meri shohrat se
Kisi ko yuu.n to koi mujhse ikhtelaaf na tha
Ek din aisa bhi aayega honT honT paimaane honge
Mandir masjid kuchh nahiiN honge ghar-ghar mein maikhane honge
Dharm mera Islam, bharat janam sthan
Wazu karoo.n Ajmer mein, Kashi mein snaan
Bekal wrote Hamd, Naat and in other genres too. He rendered poetry in his inimitable style. In the last mushaira at Lal Quila, he had said, "it could be my last presence here".
In his own words:
Sunahri sarzamii.n meri, rupahla aasamaa.n mera
Magar ab tak nahiiN samjha, Thikaana hai kahaaN meraa
[Photo courtesy: Inquilab.com. Edition December 4 2016, Mumbai]