They sound poles apart - monetary transactions and affairs of the heart. But he straddles them effortlessly. A banker by profession, but a poet by heart. That’s Jagjeevanlal Asthana for you. As manager of the State Bank of Hyderabad, he dealt with hard money most of his life, but all the time the shayer in him doled out soul-stirring verses.
In fact, poetry runs in his blood. Both his father Jaswanth Rai and grandfather Vijay Rai were Urdu poets of no mean repute. “I don’t know when I became a poet,” says Jagjeevanlal who grew up in a poetic ambience. He was inherently drawn to shayeri and the passion only increased with age. Though he did schooling with Telugu as a medium of instruction, Jagjeevanlal learnt Urdu from his father at home and mastered the language in no time.
Jagjeevanlal, who goes by the ‘Takhallus’ (pen name) ‘Saher,’ believes in writing serious poetry. No wonder his verses mirror the realities of life rather than singing paeans to ‘ gul-o-bulbul ’.
Sari duniya ko dekh lo mujh main
Iss zamane ka aayena hun main
This couplet sums up succinctly how he is a mirror wherein one can view the entire world. Jagjeevanlal was initially inspired by film lyrist Sahir Ludhianvi and Shakeel Badayuni and later by the likes of Mirza Ghalib, Allama Iqbal, Jigar Muradabadi and Firaq Gorakhpuri. They left an indelible mark on him.
“I may not experience every pain and suffering but I try to capture the situation around me,” he says. The following verse bears this out:
Woh kaya samajh sakega zamane ki talqian
Jis ne kisi gharib ka chehra padha nahin
Jagjeevanlal’s first book of poetry, Saher Ke Phool , containing 100 ‘ghazals’ was published by the Andhra Pradesh Urdu Academy and another one is shortly going to see the light of day.
Poetry is a passion for Jagjeevanlal Asthana, manager of SBH, who has published many works and is a regular at mushairas