9th of April 2013 was the date set for the mehfil on poet Firaaq Gorakhpuri. As dusk painted its colour on the sky, the crowd trickled in swiftly and we commenced our evening.
After a brief introduction on urduwallahs and the mehfil, the panel of readers and speakers were introduced. We had amidst us Javed Siddiqui Saab, Asad Husain, Rakesh Chaturvedi (Om) and Suhail Warsi.
We decided to start the evening by playing an interesting documentary on the life of Firaaq Gorakhpuri. It was a comprehensive film, which visually took the audiences into the various spaces of Firaaq’s Life. In the film we saw Firaaq recite his own poems, which brought out the humour of the man.
After the film Javed Saab spoke about Firaaq in context of his contemporaries. He explained in detail why the works of Firaaq have touched the hearts of many.
We played a song sung by Chitra Singh, which was a rendition of Firaaq’s poem titled “Bahut pehle se un qadmon ki aahat jaan lete hai “. After the audience had enjoyed the audio clip, Javed Saab spoke about Firaaq style of writing; most prominent were his Rubai (quatrains). Suhail read some quatrains to give a flavor to the audience of the intensity of his writing. Priya also read a Rubai, which Javed Saab went on to explain.
This was followed by a visual clip- an excerpt from a documentary where Sardar Jaffery spoke about Firaaq the poet, his style and persona. Om followed, by reading some beautiful poems mesmerizing the audience.
We took a break at this junction and the audience was happy to snack on cake and tea on the house, which was distributed, as it was Arwa’s Birthday.
After the interval we commenced with Om reading an interesting piece on Firaaq’s debate between Urdu and Hindi Language. Asad Husian lithely read some more poems written by Firaaq including “sar mein sauda bhi nahin, dil mein tamanna bhi nahin” which was followed by the song sung by Begam Akhtar.
The evening continued where we interspersed visuals with poetry readings and audio clips of mellifluous singers. Suhail Warsi gave an interesting perspective on Firaaq’s work by comparing his poems to his contemporaries. Javed Saab answered audience questions on Firaaq Gorakhpuri’s homosexuality and his views on women. He recalled his personal meeting with Firaaq Gorakhpuri. He ended by mentioning that while he was still in his early stages of his writing career, Firaaq had mentioned to him “ Lafzoon ko etihat se bataa kijiye, inmein jaan hoti hai”. (Carefully distribute words, they have life) Javed Saab said this lesson has stayed with him.
This was a bittersweet Mehfil, sweet as it was Arwa’s birthday celebration, bitter because Urduwallahs recently lost a very dear friend in a bike accident in Goa. Urduwallahs wanted to honour him and in his memory Arwa read a Kaifi Azmi poem “ Rehne ko deher mein aata nahi koi, Tum jaise gaye wase jataa nahi koi”. This seemed like fitting end to the evening and to the glamourous life of Kaveesh Nath-A man who lived a very short yet happy and fulfilled life.
Watch film division documentary on Firaaq Gorakhpuri – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z32SDnb_3g –