Uttar Pradesh government’s project of building the Kaifi Azmi Academy in Lucknow is in progress, albeit at a slow pace and faces a fund crunch
“Main kab paida huaa yaad nahi
Kab maroonga maloom nahi.
Apne baare me yekin ke saath sirf itna keh sakta hun ki,
Mahkum (gulam) Hindustan me paida hua,
Azaad Hindustan me boorha hua, aur
Socialist Hindustan me maroonga…”
These were thoughts about life and his country by poet Syed Atahar Hussain Rizvi, who was born in a small hamlet Mijwan in Azamgarh in eastern Uttar Pradesh in 1919. He is more popularly known as Kaifi Azmi, whose Kaifiyat haunts our conscience and connects us with the struggle of the under-privileged society. On the other hand, his romantic film song lyrics soothe our senses.
After a decade of the demise of this legendary socialist poet and renowned lyricist, the All India Kaifi Azmi Academy in Lucknow is slowly getting into shape. Coming up on the eastern bank of river Gomti, inside Lucknow’s Paper Mill Colony, the academy will carry forward the poet’s dream of promoting Urdu and Hindi literature, theatre and art. Ironically, the same colony had witnessed the gruesome death of budding poetess Madhumita Shukla 10 years back.
The concept of building the academy was conceived soon after the poet’s death on May 10, 2002. Land was allocated by the Uttar Pradesh government; the foundation stone for the academy was laid in February 2004 by the poet’s daughter, actor and Rajya Sabha MP Shabana Azmi.
Initially the responsibility of constructing the building was handed over to the Lucknow Nagar Nigam. But due to its very slow progress (only a single story was built along with a seminar hall), the project has been handed over to the Uttar Pradesh Rajakiya Nagar Nigam (UPRNN).
However, R.N. Yadav, Managing Director of UPRNN, conveyed that they have received the project with a fund of Rs. one crore released by the Lucknow Nagar Nigam. But the Rs. eight-crore-project is awaiting more fund flow. He added that distinguished lyricist and Rajya Sabha MP has pledged Rs. two crore for the project from his MPLAD fund while the State’s Department of Culture has reportedly promised Rs. 1.33 crore so far.
Speaking to The Hindu over telephone, Ms. Azmi highlighted the dream and necessity of this academy. “People living in Uttar Pradesh and its neighbouring States are highly talented and are keen to pursue careers in Hindi and Urdu language and literature. My father dreamt of exploring this mass potential. The academy is very close to my heart and I wish to shape it up as a bold promoter of art and literature in this region.”
She added: “Recently, I met Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow and requested him to support the cause and he assured me of all necessary support to build up the academy and make it a world-class facility,”
“At first, I wish to have the thrust-stage auditorium on the lines of Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai with a seating capacity of 300. Apart from this, the academy will house a museum on the works of Kaifi Sahab and other literary maestros of Hindi and Urdu languages,” Ms. Azmi explained. She expressed the wish to celebrate the Kaifi Sahab’s birth anniversary in January next year at the new auditorium.
Noted theatre and film Director M.S. Sathyu is actively involved in designing and building the state-of-the-art auditorium, along with architect Parth Kumar.