Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Genius of Delhi: Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib

Mirza Ghalib
Let me introduce tonight’s superstar line up.

Mirza Asadullah Khan ‘Ghalib’: South Asia’s greatest Urdu poet, chronicler of Delhi, public intellectual.
Mohammad Rafi: Indian cinema’s prolific golden voiced playback giant. Singer of 26,000 songs over 4 decades.
Begum Akhtar: Doyen of the thumri and ghazal. One of India’s greatest modern vocal artists.
Kaifi Azmi: Urdu poet, writer, actor, leftist intellectual. Father of Shabana Azmi.
Khayyam: Multi-awarded composer of Indian films and music.

1857 Attack on Delhi
The album: The Prose and Poetry of Ghalib, issued on the centenary of the great man’s death.  Kaifi Azmi reads exerpts (some hilarious, some horrific, all very humane) from Ghalib’s letters. Rafi and Begum Akhtar sing his poetry set to music for the occasion by Khayyam. Side one is a general introduction to Ghalib’s wit and wisdom.  Side two is played out against the tragic and painful destruction of Delhi, the city he so loved, by the English, during the 1857 First War of Independence.

Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib (1797-1869) who has been compared with Goethe is one of the most beloved and endearing of Indian poets.
The worldly glories of Ghalib’s ancestors (who proudly traced their descent from the ancient Kings of Iran) had departed long ago. The academic traditions of Avicenna had also vanished in preceding centuries. Therefore, Ghalib turned his pen into his personal heraldic banner. “The broken spears of the ancestors were transferred into a fiery quill.” His pen illumined the wasteland of his life. His courageous spirit led him by still waters and green pastures. This magnificent sweep of his creativeness enriched Urdu literature for all time. Ghalib was endowed with a rare intellect, transcidental vision and an outstanding and ingenious artistry.

Of an astonishingly catholic bent of mind, Ghalib did not differentiate between Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Jews. He never said his prayers, did not fast during the month of Ramzan and continued his love for drinking to the end of his days. He called himself a sinner and had an implicit faith in God, in the Prophet and in the religion of Islam. His appetite for the good things in life was enormous. He hungered after knowledge and also yearned for social position and worldly status. He loved good food, good wine, good music and pretty faces. Whenever he was in possession of some of those things, he fancied himself to be happier than kings.

Ghalib called himself “a rebel, irreverent to the polite rules of ghazal writing.” This non-conformist poet appeared on the literary scene as a novel and unique personality whose fiery assertion of self was tinged with a strange rebellion which expressed itself through scepticism, satire and romantic fancy.  This mood made the poet laugh through his tears and gave a new grandeur and meaning to the human condition.

Ghalib’s popularity is due to the fact that apart from other qualities his poetic mood and temper is that of a modern man. This new emotion is also in harmony with the mood and character of a new, emergent India.

Today Ghalib’s poetry has dome to us as an interpreter of the past as well as a pointer to the present. It possesses the pleasing hangover of a bygone era and the exhilarating intoxication of the present times. It conveys to us the agony of the night that has fled and the joyful light of the sun that is newly risen.

Ghalib’s greatness lies in the fact that he not only encompassed the inner turmoil of his age, but also created new urges, inner agitations and demands. Breaking through the bonds of time his poetry reaches out into the past and into the future.  (Ali Sardar Jafri, on the liner notes)

Some Ghalib-isms

He gave me heaven and earth, and assumed I'd be satisfied;
Actually I was too embarrassed to argue.

Oh, Lord, it is not the sins I have committed that I regret, but those which I have had no opportunity to commit

         Track Listing:
         01 Prose Exerpt (Kaifi Azmi)
02 Zikr Us Parivash Ka (Mohammad Rafi)
03 Prose Exerpt (Kaifi Azmi)
04 Ye Na Thi Hamari Qismat (Begum Akhtar)
05 Prose Exerpt (Kaifi Azmi)
06 Muddat Hui Hai (Mohammad Rafi)
07 Prose Exerpt (Kaifi Azmi)
08 Ae Taaza Vaaridaan-e-bisat-e-hawa-e-dil (Mohammad Rafi)
09 Prose Exerpt (Kaifi Azmi)
10 Qad-o-Gaysoo (Mohammad Rafi)
11 Prose Exerpt (Kaifi Azmi)
12 Sab Kahan (Mohammad Rafi)
13 Prose Exerpt (Kaifi Azmi)
14 Bus ke Dushwar Hai (Mohammad Rafi)
15 Prose Exerpt (Kaifi Azmi)
16 Nuktachin Hai (Mohammad Rafi)
17 Prose Exerpt (Kaifi Azmi)
18 Baazeezha-e-Atfaal Hai (Mohammad Rafi)

Listen here


deewani said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. I did not know the original of the Rafi Ghalib numbers until now. Fantastic blog, title and all.

ajnabi said...

Hi Deewani,
Thank you for the visit and compliment. It is an amazing record. On your blog I note there is no Mahendar Kapoor. Any reason?

deewani said...

Those artist tags are based on song lyrics I've posted, not necessarily favorite artists. OFC he is among my favorites :) I just have not gotten around to doing lyrics for any of his songs yet, nor has anyone requested them.

ajnabi said...

May i request lyrics to Iktara Bole Tun Tun (Yaadgaar 1970)?

deewani said...

Sure, did you want translation too?

ajnabi said...

yes please!

deewani said...

Tis done, though my translations are often crude, not very poetic.