Oct 25 2008
Majaz (pronounced Majaaz), who is sometimes called Keats of Urdu Poetry wrote Ghazals and Nazms that, if at once place speak of beauty and optimism and wit – create such a feeling of bitter despair that it leaves an ardent fan of Urdu Poetry like me and many others gasping for air. I have never seen despair and hopelessness as I have in Sahir Ludhianvi’s and Majaaz’s Poetry. Majaz’s life, however, ended way earlier than it should have.
He was one of the foremost Urdu Poets during the Progressive Writers Movement in and around 1930s and was a contemporary of noted Poets like Jigar Moradabadi, Firaq Gorakhpuri, Jan Nisar Akhtar, Sahir Ludhianvi and Asgar Gondavi. I hadn’t read much of Majaaz until recently when I found a copy of the TV show “Kahkashaan” that was shown on Indian Television in early 1990s. As the story goes, he fell in love with a married woman from Delhi’s high society and by the time he left Delhi, his heart was reduced to nothing. After having multiple nervous breakdowns (and even landing in a Ranchi Mental Hospital) and attempting to come back to normal, he finally met his end on a bitter cold night in Lucknow when some callous friends left him on the roof of a Maikhana (tavern) after a night of drinking. People would often get him drunk to hear his Poetry. He died alone (some say due to cold) that night on 5th of December 1955 in Lucknow. Part of Lucknow died with him that night and Urdu Poetry suffered a huge vacuum, never to be filled again.
Here are some verses from one of his lachrymose Ghazals. Also taken is an excerpt from the TV show Kahkashaan in Jagjit Singh’s voice. Here is the MP3.
Ai Gam e Dil Kya Karoon, one of Majaz’s creations has been sung by many generations of singers, with the most popular version by Talat Mahmood. Majaaz’s sister was married to Jan Nisar Akhtar (his son is Javed Akhtar), another master Shayar from that era.