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The crowd came trickling in as the sky progressed from a dull grey to an indigo, then pitch black. At our sixth Mehfil@Prithvi we had chosen an eclectic mix of poets and their poems. The idea was to listen to Urdu and enjoy its sound through poetry recitation. These recitations were done by our team, which included Shama Zaidi (Apa), Suhail Warsi, Salim Arif and our guest Ayesha Raza. We hand picked Poets like Mir Taqi Mir, Naser Akhbarabadi, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Daagh Dehlvi and Akhtar Allahabadi.

The evening started with Ayesha Raza reading some works of Mir Taqi Mir. Some familiar poems got a lot of nods and the enthralled audience appreciated some unfamiliar ones. One excerpt of a poem read out is given below:
Ibtadaae ishq hai rota hai kya,
aage aage dekhye hota hai kya.
It is only the beginning of love, why groan.
Wait and see what happens to you as you move onward.

Some interesting information was brought to the surface like Ghalib admired Mir and his work immensely. A couplet by Ghalib read out gracefully by Urduwali Priya explained this.
‘Reekhtay kay tumhi ustaad nahi ho Ghalib
Kehte hain agle zamane me koi Mir bhi tha’

You are not the only master of Urdu,
,They say there used to be a Mir in the past.

We were explained that in most Urdu poetry, the writer always includes his name in the last couplet of the poem. This was like a signature to know that the poem belongs to him even if someone else was reciting it. We Indian have a long lineage of the verbal tradition where information was passed through speech rather than written down, hence this method was useful.

We played Mir’s poem ‘ dekhai diye yun’ from the film Bazaar.

Suhail Warsi took the audience into the world of Naser Akhbarabadi. His clear diction and fluent ease of recitation captivated the audience. He explained difficult words as he went along making Naser Akhbarabadi and Nazm’s a delightful experience. He explicitly explained the difference between Nazm and Ghazal. He said Nazm is a poem dealing with a single thought or subject whereas a Ghazal is a poem containing minimum 5 verses and maximum 25. The opening verse of the Ghazal is called Matla and both hemistiches rhyme with one another. The last verse of the Ghazal is called Maqta, which usually contains the penname of the poet.

Suhail moved to Daag Dehlvi, where he read out some more poems enriching the evening and then we took a break for people to sip on chai and absorb themselves in what had unfolded.

We commenced our next half with Shama Zaidi (Apa) bringing out the aspect of humour in Urdu poetry. She spoke about Akhtar Allahabadi and read out some of his works. We played a song sung by KL Sehgal called “Duniya Mein Hoon.”

We then moved on to Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Salim Arif took us through Faiz’ s indelible work, He read out some poems and we also played an audio clip, which had Faiz reciting his own poems. This was appreciated by the audience.

What made this session different from our previous sessions is that we only played audio clips. The evening saw good audience participation and people were earning for more even after we wrapped up. We promised to come back with a juicier session next month with the theme – The Indian Independence. Many clips and poems that were discussed in the Mehfil will appear on our blog.