Chupke chupke raat din…

DD Urdu’s serial on Maulana Hasrat Mohani throws light on many facets of this historical personality

Published - August 28, 2014 04:41 pm IST

"Mujhid-e-Azadi Maulana Hasrat Mohani”, a 13-episode serial being telecast on DD Urdu.

"Mujhid-e-Azadi Maulana Hasrat Mohani”, a 13-episode serial being telecast on DD Urdu.

Indian history is replete with examples of personalities whose attributes are not only pertinent today but also worth emulating by the current generation of public figures and commoners alike.

A case in point is that of Maulana Hasrat Mohani, a romantic Urdu poet, journalist, politician, a freedom fighter and member of the Constituent Assembly. All the facets of this figure are highlighted in “Mujhid-e-Azadi Maulana Hasrat Mohani”, a 13-episode serial being telecast on DD Urdu. Many moviegoers may recall the popular ghazal, “Chupke chupke raat din” sung by Ghulam Ali in the Hindi film “Nikaah”, which was penned by him.

“Being fascinated with history and biographies in particular, I enjoy studying famous personalities. Maulana Mohani was a multi-faceted personality to whom history had not done justice,” said . M. Sayeed Alam one of the co-directors of the serial who has also written the screenplay and dialogues. The other director is K. Deepak Gulati. Explaining in detail, Alam said, “Mohani was a precursor to Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Nehru, Sardar Patel, etc. A discipline of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, he went to jail in 1903, when political prisoners were treated as common criminals and forced to do manual labour. In 1904 he joined the Congress.”

Both the directors extensively researched the subject, read several books and also met many people to come up with an authentic portrayal. Incidentally Maulana was the first student of Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College (MAOC) which later became Aligarh Muslim University, to be rusticated. Ironically the university has a hostel named after him.

Gulati did not find the subject difficult. “Earlier too a play on him was planned but somehow it never materialised. The research done then proved very helpful and this production was a dream come true for me.”

Eight of the episodes show Maulana below 40 years and Alam states that the reason is, “he had achieved a lot between the age of 18 and 40.” This role is enacted by Ahmad Omair, a student of Delhi University who has been part of Pierrot’s Troupe for last five years. The remaining episodes feature Ravi Shastri of National School of Drama as Mohani.

The freedom fighter started writing poetry during his school days and is credited with contributing to the revival of classic form of Urdu poetry which he insisted has a place in the society. Alam says, “As a scholar of Persian and Arabic, he was one of the first critics of Ghalib. His compositions and politics influenced each other in a positive sense.”

“As a member of the Constituent Assembly Maulana’s conduct is an example to be followed by our elected representatives,” says Alam, “since he never drew Government allowances or used official accommodation.” Asked why he travelled third class as a member, the poet quipped: “Since there is no fourth class.” During the sessions he stayed in the mosque and reached the Parliament in a shared tonga.

Madeeha Sadaf enacts the role of young and old Maulana’s wife in the story written by Asif Naqvi, with music by Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan. Produced by Anju Visuals, each episode is anchored by Salim Shah who provides information to the viewers which could not be fictionalised.

There is a parallel track which depicts youngsters discussing and reading about Maulana; singing his poems and enacting some scenes of his life. “This has been done to provide additional input about the personality and also attract young viewership,” said Alam.

The Maulana had gone for Haj several times but at the same time revered Sri Krishna. He visited Mathura during Janmashtami and wrote songs and couplets on Lord Krishna. An example is, Mathura mein bhi kabool ho hazrat ki hajari / Sunete hai aashique pe tumra karam hai khaas . A seasoned flute player, Maulana entertained his jail inmates too. “ Being a devout Muslim he treated members of the other communities as his brothers and equal,” said Alam.

Though belonging to landed gentry, the Maulana and his family lived off his earnings from his Urdu publication “Urdu-e-Moalla” and the Swadeshi store he established first in Aligarh and later in Kanpur. That he was progressive is evident from the fact that his wife was one of the few Muslim women to join Congress and help him in fighting the British.

The episodes were shot extensively in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh for realistic portrayal of those times. “Emphasis was laid on using furniture, houses and props of that era and we never compromised on that,” says Gulati adding, “in Amroha I sensed and visualised that our end product, i.e. the serial would look perfect.”

(Telecast on Sundays at 7 p.m. with repeated telecast at 10 p.m. and also Mondays at 11.30 a.m .)

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