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MajazAsrar ul Haq Majaz (1911 – 1955) was an Indian Urdu poet also known as the ‘Keats of Urdu’ after the legendary English Romantic poet, John Keats – one of the main figures of the second generation of Romantic poets along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, in the 19th Century. The poetry of Keats is characterised by sensual imagery, most notably in the series of odes. Majaz, on similar lines, composed ghazals and nazms in Urdu and is famous for his romantic and revolutionary poetry as well.

Majaz was born in Rudauli, Bara Banki, UP, India and received his early education in Lucknow and Agra. He then did his B.A. from Aligarh Muslim University, where he started writing poems that became popular among the masses. He is also well known for composing the anthem (tarana) of Aligarh Muslim University – ‘Ye meraa chaman, hai mera chaman, Main apne chaman ka bulbul huun.’ He considered Fani Badayuni Fani Badayunias his ‘ustad’ (mentor). Aahang” and “Saaz-e-Nau” are two of his poetry compilations.

Majaz became one of the front-ranking poets of the Taraqqi Pasand Tehreek (Urdu Progressive Writers Movement). He hails from a family of poets and litterateurs. Muztar Khairabadi, one of the great masters of Urdu poetry, was among his ancestors. He also had a sister Safiya, who was married to Jan Nisar Akhtar, father of contemporary Urdu poet and lyricist, Javed Akhtar. He was great friends with his contemporary, Sahir Ludhianvi. Even though Sahir initially didn’t have good opinion of Majaz as a person (he was a heavy drinker), his poems won over him and they became very good friends, until Majaz’s death in 1955 at the young age of 44.

He died alone in a tavern located in the Beldari Lane of Lalbagh, on the cold winter night of 5th December 1955 in the heart of the city of Lucknow.

Majaz postage stamp1The Government of India honored Majaz’s memory by issuing a commemorative postage stamp in March 2008.

One of Majaz’s most famous poems Ae Gham-e-Dil Kia Karoon, Ae Wahshat-e-Dil Kya Karoon was sung by singer Talat Mahmood for the film, Thokar starring Shammi Kapoor and Shyama. This was one of the very early attempts to bring literary poems into films. Jagjit Singh, the famous ghazal singer has sung a number of Majaz’s ghazals in a very popular television series named Kehkashan, directed by Majaz’s friend Ali Sardar Jafri. The series was based on life of Majaz.

Here is the ghazal “Aye Gham-e dil kya karoon sung by Talat Mahmood for Thokar and sung by Jagjit Singh for Kehkashan

sheher ki raat aur main naashaad-o-naakaara phiroon
jag-magaati jaagti sadkon pe aawara phiroon
aye gham-e-dil kyaa karoon
aye vehshat-e-dil kyaa karoon
kyaa karoon, kyaa karoon
aye gham-e-dil kyaa karoon

yeh roopehli chhaanv, yeh aakash par taaron ka jaal
jaise sufi ka tasavvur, jaise aashiq ka khayaal
aah lekin kaun samajhe kaun jaane jee ka haal
aye gham-e-dil kyaa karoon
aye vehshat-e-dil kyaa karoon
kyaa karoon, kyaa karoon
aye gham-e-dil kyaa karoon

raaste mein ruk ke dam loon yeh meri aadat nahin
laut kar vaapas chala jaaun meri fitrat nahin
aur koi hamnava mil jaaye yeh qismat nahin
aye gham-e-dil kyaa karoon
aye vehshat-e-dil kyaa karoon
kya karoon, kyaa karoon
aye gham-e-dil kyaa karoon

Link to the ghazal as sung by Jagjit Singh

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