Majaaz Lucknowi : Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoon

It was only after I stepped into Mumbai city that I truly understood the poem ‘Awara’ by Majaaz. I used to stay in Hotel Majestic which was located opposite Regal Cinema. And often during those early days in Mumbai I used to step out for long walks in the evenings. And at every step, I remembered Majaaz. Especially, when I strolled from Nariman Point and went along the lights on Marine Drive to Chowpatty. Majaaz would have aimlessly walked around these streets – turning wherever the heart pleased … in an unfamiliar city of lights and lonely lanes, his only companion – a heart overwhelmed with unbearable grief …

Shahar Ki Raat aur Main Naashaad-O-Naakaara Phiroo
Jagmagaati-Jaagati Sadko Pe Awaara Phiroo
Gair Ki Basti Hain Kab Tak Dar-Ba-Dar Maara Phiroo

Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo …

For the metropolis, Marine Drive was The Queen’s Necklace.
For Majaaz it was a sharp, gilt-edged sword piercing his heart:

Jhilmilaate KumKumonki Raah Mein Zanjeer-see
Raat Ke Haatho Mein Din Ki Mohini Tasveer-See
Mere Seene Par Magar Dehki Huee Shamsheer-see
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo …


The night would smile and the house of wine would beckon Majaaz. And later he would even get seduced by the charms of some unknown beauty. And there were times when none of that would not possible … he would go to some isolated place …

Raat Has Has Ke Yeh Kahti Hain Ki Maikhaane Mein Chal
Phir Kisi Shahnaaz-E-Lala-Rukh Ke Kashane Mein Chal
Yeh Nahi Mumkin To Phir Aye Dost Veerane Mein Chal
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo …


Another glittering Mumbai evening … The Taj Mahal Hotel … And the moon rising behind it …

Majaaz saw the moon differently …

the moon was a Mulla’s pagdi …
a grocer’s account book …
the youth of a destitute …
and the charms of a widow …
all pale and dull !

Ek Mahal Ki Aad Se Nikla Woh Peela Mahtab
Jaise Mulla Ka Amama, Jaise Baniye Ki Kitaab
Jaise Mufliss Ki Jawani, Jaise Bewa Ka Shabab
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ..
.

When I first heard the strains of ‘Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo … Talat’s voice went straight to the heart … and found a permanent place. I was in college then in 1953, and ‘Thokar’ starring Shammi Kapoor and Shyama had just been released. The music was by Sardar Malik. And I saw Shammi Kapoor walking down streets singing …Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo…The pathos of Majaaz and my youthful heart, the combination was captivating and I was hooked by it.

I tried to find out more about Majaaz and discovered that he was not a lyricist but a renowned poet in Urdu literary circles. And Aye Gham-E-Dil was not a song but two verses from his poem ‘Awara’ strung into a song.

I immediately got a friend to write out the complete poem for me. After that for many, many days and over long, long nights, I was only reading the poem … again and again, enjoying it more and more, feeling it intensely and also trying to understand it.

And the Talat magic was now at work … the musings of a Sufi mystic and the reverie of the beloved … had merged!

Yeh Rupahli Chhav, Yeh Aakash Par Taaronka Jaal
Jaise Sufi Ka Tasavvur, Jaise Aashiq Ka Khayal
Aah Lekin Kaun Samjhe, Kaun Jaane Jee Ka Haal
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo ..
.

And then Majaaz expressed the very quintessence of all his life and persona in lines which almost shriek with the helplessness …

Raaste Mein Ruk ke Dum Loo, Yeh Meri Aadat Nahi
Lautkar Vaapas Chala Jaoo, Yeh meri Fitrat Nahi
Aur Koi Humanwa Mil Jaaye, Yeh Kismat Nahi
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo …


For me to take a breather … that is not my habit.
To retrace my steps … that is not my nature
To get a companion or a co-traveller … that is not my destiny ,
Aye Gham-E- Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo …

For the next six years, Talat’s strains became my soul companions.
Only in 1959, did I realize that every note of Talat had Majaaz’s very
soul enveloped in it.

A friend, Nishikant Thakar gifted me Majaaz’s collection of poems. I wonder how, but somehow I had realized by then that Majaaz had written ‘Awara’ in Mumbai and written it with tremendous anguish about the city. But I had not seen Mumbai till then and the poem did not make the kind of impact … which it did after I experienced Majaaz’s metropolis.

………….And then I found another astonishing aspect.

I was attending the 1957 Sahitya Sammelan in Aurangabad. One of those
evenings I saw Pyaasa. And the film left its spell on me … to the extent that I saw it for four consecutive days, at times by bunking the literary sessions! And from the moment, I saw Pyaasa till I got Majaaz’s book I used to believe that every line in Pyaasa was Sahir’s line. But when I read Majaaz’s book the feeling of deja vu kept occurring … the heart averred that I had ‘heard’ these lines somewhere.

And then once at midnight the lines crashed through my deep sleep and
it suddenly struck me – Pyaasa !

– the Jaane Woh Kaise Log The Jinke … sequence … YES !

In the film, the affluent publisher Ghosh has hosted a party. Many renowned poets are present at the evidently highbrow event. Vijay the poet is the ‘naukar’. And Mrs. Ghosh is Vijay’s former love. She is about to serve
the spirits to the guests when Ghosh ticks her off …”Naukronke Hote Hue Tum Kyon Taqleef karti Ho Dear? Vijay, Sochte Kya Ho … Jaam Do …”

And one shaayar presents his ghazal …

Roodaad-E-Gham-E-Ulfat Unse, Hum Kya Kehte, Kyonkar Kahate?
Ek Harf Na Nikla Hotho Se Aur Aankh Mein Aansoo Aa Bhi Gaye …

Uss Mehfil-E-Kaifi-Masti Mein, Uss Anjuman_E-Irfani Mein Sab Jaam-Ba-Kuff
Baithe Hi Rahe, Hum Pee Bhi Gaye Chalka Bhi Gaye …


How can I relate this tale of a lost love? What could I say? Not a word escaped the lips, and the eye was full with tears … In the mehfil of joy and frolic, the erudite merely sat with their goblets … But the wine I drank and also my goblet was overflowing …

The story of unexpressed love was none other than Majaaz’s … not just
Sahir‘s. And may be that of every poet in this world.

A senior poet then presents his sher …

Kaam Aakhir Jazba-E-Beikhtiar Aa Hi Gaya
Dil Kuch Iss Surat Se Tadpa Unko Pyar Aa Hi Gaya …


Vijay hears this and his feelings find their way in …

Jaane Woh Kaise Log The Jinke Pyar Ko Pyar Mila …

Clearly, Majaaz belonged to the line of poets who got only sorrow in
return for their love. Actually, any girl would have been swept off her feet by Majaaz who was a handsome and sensitive man, as well as a poet !
Ismat Chugtai once stated that there was a time when the girls in Aligarh Muslim College threw lots with Majaaz’s name on their chits. His poems were under their pillows – they often swore that if nothing worked out they would name their sons Majaaz. Amidst the tinkling bangles, girly giggles & flying dupattas – wafted Majaaz’s poems! Nothing but Majaaz was on the girl’s minds ! And they also had questions galore – – what does Majaaz do, where does Majaaz stay, is Majaaz involved with some girl . These were Majaaz’s college days as he completed his B.A. in Aligarh Muslim University. After college, Majaaz, came to Delhi in 1936 and worked with All India Radio as Editor of their journal, which Majaaz had christened ‘Aawaaz’.

And in Delhi, Majaaz fell in love. And as the story goes he was jolted
in love. Nobody really knows what happened in Delhi – it is said that the apple of his affection was a beautiful woman from Delhi’s highbrow circles.
And that she was already married. But Majaaz’s heart was shattered. He left Delhi and carried those broken splinters back to Lucknow.

Rukhsat_E_Delhi Teri Mehfil Se Ab Jaata Hoon Main
Nauhagar Jaata Hoon, Nala-E-Lub Jaata Hoon Main


And after that Majaaz seems to have lost his balance – there was no limit to his drinking. In 1940, he got his first nervous breakdown. He used to repeatedly say “One girl wants to marry me. But my rival is constantly threatening to poison me.” Majaaz’s parents tried all kinds of treatments and managed to somehow restore a semblance of balance and they thought of the remedy that parents would normally think of – find a girl and get Majaaz to settle down. But now the world looked at Majaaz differently. He had acquired a reputation of not being ‘sane’. The world now saw his shortcomings. The girls who were once his greatest admirers were now scared by the prospect of a lunatic.

But for the sake of his parents and his sisters, Majaaz had consciously
decided to behave ‘normally.’ One of Majaaz’s sisters – Safiya was married to Jaan Nisaar Akhtar, the lyricist and poet and father of Javed Akhtar.

For some time, Majaaz worked with the ‘Bombay Information Bureau.’ He
later enrolled for a degree in Law at the Lucknow University. With Sibt-E-Hassan and Ali Sardar Jafri, he also worked on a periodical ‘Naya Adab’. He then joined Delhi’s Harding’s Library as Assistant Librarian. His parents found a girl for him and just when everyone thought that Majaaz was about to tie the knot, the girl’s father who was a Government Servant, turned down the proposal.

That struck another blow ! And in 1945, Majaaz again lost his mental balance. He used to go around talking about his greatness – a megalomania of sorts … he would make a list of great poets and after Ghalib and Iqbal he would put his own name. His family left no stone unturned and with all kinds of medical attention, Majaaz recovered. But he found life to be futile and could never overcome his loneliness. He tried but could never lead a life like the ordinary folk around him and he spent the rest of his life immersed in alcohol. He drowned all the bitterness in the bottle … till the end of his life.

Ham Maikade Ki Raah Se Hokar Guzar Gaye
Varna Safar Hayaat Ka Behad Taveel Tha ..
.

“Majaaz had gone insane twice ; he is drunk all the time and wanders aimlessly.” Sahir Ludhianvi introuduced Majaaz in this fashion in the journal ‘Savera’ published from Lahore. Majaaz was terribly hurt. He responded like a true poet …

Kuch To Hain Mohabbat Mein Junoon Ka Asar
Aur Kuch Log Bhi Deewana Bana Dete Hain !


One goes nuts in love and sometimes some people also drive you so …

But Sahir loved Majaaz and both were true friends. When everyone around
taunted Majaaz about his drinking, he was quick to lash out …

Main Sharaab Peeta Hoon , Tum Kya Peete Ho?
Aadmi Ka Khoon?

Sahir could never forget these lines. In fact, he wanted to make a movie on Majaaz’s life. He could not make the film but he made a Rafi song out of these lines in Naya Raasta which was tuned by N.Datta …

Maine Pee Sharaab, Tune Kya Peeya?
Aadmi Ka Khoon?

Majaaz & Sahir came to Mumbai to try their hand in films. An acquaintance fixed an an appointment for them with the Producer Director P.N.Arora who was in the process of making a film called Hoor-E-Arab (The Arabian Beauty). It was a boiling hot, summer afternoon and Arora kept the poets
waiting on a bench outside his air-conditioned cabin. Helen who was then Arora’s paramour entered the cabin. and the chances of the duo meeting Arora were getting slimmer as they waited. Majaaz was extremely upset by the heat and this treatment. The acquaintance, who had lined up the appointment appeared and said …

“Aadaab Arz Hain Sahir Sahab! Aadaab Arz Hain Majaaz Sahab !
Hoor-E-Arab Ke Gaanonki Kuch Baat Huee?”

“Jee Abhi Tak To Nahi” said Sahir.
“Kyon?” the acquaintance enquired.
“Kyonki”, Majaaz retorted wiping his brow, “Hoor to kab se andar hain,
aur hum to bahar Arab mein baithe hain!”

The pun and the repartee was indeed Majaaz’s forte.

The famed, revolutionary poet Josh Malihabaadi recounts this anecdote in his autobiography “Yaadon Ki Baraat” which was banned by the Government of Pakistan. He once advised Majaaz on drinking…..

“Dekho Majaaz, Sharaab peene ka sahi tareeqa yeh hain ki aahista
aahista pee jaaye. Main bees minute mein ek peg khatam karta hoon. Aur
hamesha ghadi saamne rakhkar peeta hoon. Tum Bhi ghadi saamne rakhkar peeya karo!”

“Ghadi Rakhkar?” Majaaz was sceptical, “Mera Bas Chale to Main Ghadaa
rakhkar Peeya Karoo !”

Like Majaaz was upset with Sahir he was also irked by Josh. Majaaz had been discharged from the mental hospital and though he looked normal, he was not entirely cured of his ailment. Josh did not know this.

Majaaz once called the Commissioner of Delhi and asked him for one hundred rupees. When Josh heard this he pulled up Majaaz by remarking
that by this action Majaaz – the very dignity of poetry had bitten the dust.

Majaaz did not say a word but quietly wrote …

Jo Guzarti Hain Kalb-E-Shaayar Par
Shaaya-E-Inquilaab Kya Jaane ..
.

What would the revolutionary poet know about a tender romantic poet’s
heart !

Basically, Majaaz was an extremely sensitive, romantic poet. From the beginning he had a tremendous attraction for love and beauty. Even as a child if a beautiful lady visited his home, Majaaz would forget everything else and gaze at her for hours! Though Majaaz’s poetry flowered under the guidance of ‘Jazbi’ and Phaani’, he had a particular soft corner for the romantic poet who wrote “Aye Ishq Hame Barbaad Na Kar” – Akhtar Shirani.

The Urdu writer Prakash Pandit remembers a touching incident about
this. After the Indo Pak partition in 1948, Sahir and Pandit had started an Urdu journal ‘Shahraah’ in Delhi. They had just found a new home in a Muslim basti of Delhi. The situation was rife with communal tension at that time so both were quietly shifting to their new home in the night. Sahir was shifting their belongings inside the house and Prakash was staying guard outside. Suddenly a good looking man with sharp features came staggering along, very obviously drunk and he kept muttering … “Akhtar Shirani Mar Gaya … Tu Urdu Ka Bahut Bada Shaayar Tha … Bahut Bada” he kept repeating these lines with agitated gestures … Prakash was a little unnerved …
Josh Malihabadi who also lived in the same neighbourhood came along and recognized Prakash … Josh immediately said … “Inhe Samhalo Prakash , Yeh Majaaz Hain.”

Prakash Pandit saw the creator of Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo in such
circumstances … as Majaaz grieved over the passing away of Akhtar Shirani. Actually Akhtar Shirani and Majaaz had many aspects in common. The poetry of both had the pathos of a directionless life as their central theme. And of course there was liquor. The beloved too was there as a common factor. Shirani wrote about Salma or Azra whereas Majaaz wrote about his ‘Zohra-Jabee’ These names were similar to the names of their real loves.

In real terms, although Majaaz loved Akhtar Shirani, he had gone far
ahead of Shirani as a poet.

Although Majaaz too wrote about Love and Beauty, his poems always retained a a social consciousness. Instead of fantasizing a world of Love and Beauty somewhere else, Majaaz rebelled against the customs and traditions which constrained these emotions. Although helpless himself he always wrote against the shackles of the religious establishment.

Yeh Majboori Si Majboori, Yeh Laachari Si Laachari
Ki Uske Geet Bhi Jee Kholkar Main Gaa Na Saka
Hade Woh Kheech Rakhi Hain, Haram Ke Pasbaanone
Ki Bin Mujrim Bane Paigaam Bhi Pahuncha Na Saka


Despite Love being his central theme, Majaaz expressed his anger against social injustice with such a force that a senior Urdu poet and critic Asar Lucknowi observed, “A Keats was born in Urdu poetry too, but he was devoured by the conservative wolves.”

Although he was a romantic like Keats, Majaaz had looked at this own personal highs and lows with a social perspective. No poet can stay in the air for too long and some time or the other gets his feet on the ground. Majaaz had introduced this progressive approach way before the Progressive Writers Association was formed.

Khoob Pahchaan Lo Asraar Hoon Main
Jin Se Ulfat Ka Talabgaar Hoon Main
Khwaab-E-Ishrat Mein hain Arbab-E-Khirad
Aur Ek Shaayar-E-Bedaar Hoon Main
Aib Jo Haafeez-O-Khayyam Mein Tha
Haan Kuch Uska Bhi Gunhegaar Hoon Main
Hoor-O-Gil Ma Ka Yaha Zikr Nahi
Nau-E-Insaan Ka Parastaar Hoon Main

My name is Asraar (Asraar Ul Haq was Majaaz’s true name)
I am in search of love.
All intellectuals and dreaming. Asleep.
I am awake. And I am a poet.
Haafiz and Khayyam paid tributes to Beauty and Wine.
I too am a little guilty of that crime.
You will not find heavenly damsels and angels
In my writings
Because I am a worshipper of humanity …

Majaaz’s writings always had a progressive strain. That was never propaganda, but was his own experience of it. And hence the progressive is expressed in extremely sensitive artistic fashion in his work.

In the preface to Majaaz’s ‘Aahang”, the famous progressive poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote “Majaaz never beat the drums of revolution, he hummed revolutions!” Almost unknowingly, Majaaz had imbibed the progressive thought and that manifested in his work.

In Awara (1937), he wrote …

Mufalissi Aur Yeh Majahir Hain Nazar Ke Saamne
Sekdo Sultan-EJaabir Hain Nazar Ke Saamne
Sekdo Changez-O-Nadir Hain Nazar Ke Saamne
Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo …


Majaaz did not lament his own individual helplessness, but also those of a society, of his times. And to forget all these sorrows, Majaaz had by them drowned in alcohol. Neither did he eat or sleep. He only wanted the bottle. And the highbrow and the affluent, pandered only to this need of Majaaz. Many a glittering party and mehfil saw a Majaaz drowning himself in spirits and sing the agonies of his heart. To the rich audiences this was entertainment. When he tired or fell unconscious, these so called bigwigs got their drivers to drop him off. Or lock him away in a secluded room in their mansions.

After his second nervous breakdown, Majaaz was treated with great
difficulty in the mental hospital at Ranchi. But Majaaz did not change
one bit after he was released. And then came yet another evening. Another mehfil – when Majaaz drank away. When he fell unconscious, his friends left him behind in the bar. (Apparently, one of them was Jalal Malihabadi who wrote Mujhe Kisise Pyar Ho Gaya in Barsaat).

Only God know how the helpless Majaaz, spent the freezing night, all
alone.

The next day on December 15, 1955, he was taken to hospital … where
a nerve snapped and everything was over …

I read about Majaaz’s tragic end about four years later … And I felt
sad as if he had just passed away …

However, Majaaz had told his friends long back …

Mere Barbaadiyon Ka Hamnasheenon
Tumhe Kya, Khud Mujhe Bhi Gham Nahi Hain … !


For many days after that I remembered many of Majaaz’s lines …

‘Ab Tum mere Paas Aayee Ho, To Kyon Aayee Ho?’
‘Mujhe Jaana Hain Ek Din Tere Bazm-E-Naaz Se Aakhir’
‘Bataoo Kya Tujhe Aye Hamnashee ! Kisse Mohabbat Hain?’
‘Rukhsat Aye Humsafari ! Shahr-E-Nigar Aa Hi Gaya’


Majaaz had broken the strings of existence but his voice still echoed somewhere in the heart …

Chhup Gaye Woh Saaz-E-Hasti Chhedkar
Ab To Bas Aawaaz hi Aawaaz Hain …


Much later, while reading Kamleshwar‘s ‘Dak Bangla’ the mind again
flashed back to Majaaz.

The character – Ira describes one Hemendra Batra. He looks fierce almost scary but once he is drunk he oozes humility. His dignity and innocence manifested only when drunk. And in his collection of Western pop songs,
there was but one exception … one Hindustani record …Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo …?

Ira recalls Hemendra’s life … of how he used to get agitated and pace up and down his room listening to those lines …

Gair Ki Basti Hain Kab Tak Dar-Ba-Dar Phiroo … Gair Ki Basti Hain

And throughout her life, Ira recalls these lines and finds newer
meanings at every turn …

Just the other day at Bhulabhai Desai auditorium, a program was held
in Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s honour. And as Ali Sardar Jafri spoke he remembered Majaaz and was visibly moved.

He fondly remembered … one late night in Lucknow after a mehfil …Majaaz, Faiz, Jazbi and Jafri strolled across to the terrace of Moti Mahal… on the banks of Gomti.

The mehfil came alive again …And Majaaz for the first time recited Awara …

And he expressed his feelings so poignantly in …Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo …that a resounding “Wah Wah’ echoed from across the Gomti ! This could only happen in Lucknow, mused Jafri with tears in his eyes.

Even Shailendra had recorded in his diary …of how a drunk Majaaz, poured his life into evey line as he sang … Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoo, Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoo …

On one occasion, I narrated all this to Talat Mahmood. He grew restless and started recalling Majaaz’s days in Lucknow and unknowingly slipped into the song

Raaste Mein Ruk ke Dum Loo, Yeh Meri Aadat Nahi
Lautkar Vaapas Chala Jaoo, Yeh meri Fitrat Nahi


And Talat paused when he hummed the line …

Aur Koi Humanwa Mil Jaaye, Yeh Kismat Nahi

to exclaim “Wah Majaaz!”

A moment later Talat was simply overwhelmed when I remarked …

Saari Mehfil Jispe Jhoom Uthi ‘Majaaz’
Woh To Aawaaz-E-Shikast-E-Saaz Hain …


The mehfil had applauded with joy … when the string snapped …

Majaaz Lucknawi
Born 1909. Rudauli, Barabanki District Uttar Pradesh,
Real name : Asrar ul Haq.
He regarded Faani Badayuni, Jazbi and Akhtar Shirani as his ustaad’s.
Shab-e-taab, Aahang, Saaz-e-nau & Awara are his major writings.
Majaaz passed away on 5th December 1955 in Lucknow.

Aye Gham E Dil – Thokar (1953) ; Sung by Talat Mehmood ; Composed by Sardar Malik
Postal Stamp in memory of Majaaz issued by Indian Govt.

This Article was originally written in Marathi by Madhav Moholkar and translated in English by Sandeep Apte.

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