A poet remembered


POETIC POWER: Nadira Babbar recites Makhdoom's poetry as M.F. Husain looks on.

POETIC POWER: Nadira Babbar recites Makhdoom's poetry as M.F. Husain looks on.  

THE REPUBLIC DAY eve could not have been better observed than to remember a revolutionary people's poet, Hyderabad's own luminary, Makhdoom Mohiuddin - born Abu Sayeed Makhdoom Mohiuddin on February 4, 1908 at Andol in Medak. Cinema Ghar, on that night, metamorphosed into a truly free space, with artistes, poets, scientists, singers, scholars, the young and the old - meeting up in a sense of camaraderie.

They were brought together in the pain, anguish, love and hopes of a poet speaking the language of the eternal human spirit. No wonder then, that M.F. Husain chose to draw his impressions on the dream of Makhdoom, "hayaat le ke chalo, kaayanat le ke chalo, chalo to sare zamane ko saath le ke chalo."

"M.F. Husain Remembers Makhdoom" was an evening of mushaira, exhibition of photographs and paintings - an event coordinated by art critic Rasna Bhushan, with support extended by a number of Makhdoom fans from the city, including the old photographer Shah Ali (whose rare pictures of the poet were displayed) and old comrades of the poet.

The event signified the reiteration of Husain's old Hyderabadi bonds, especially with the Progressive Writers Movement of which Makhdoom (also Husain's old comrade) was an intrinsic part.

It was significant also that Cinema Ghar chose to open its doors to relive the progressive, socially and culturally vibrant facet of Hyderabad that few of the younger generations get to see today - with Makhdoom as its quintessential representative. One of the reasons was Husain's relationship with the poet, with whom he used to spend hours over chai at the erstwhile Orient Caf�.

"In the early 40s, 50s, I travelled with him to Moscow and China," he says.

"Very few poets understand what contemporary art is. But he was very enlightened and liked to see works of artists. Whenever I used to come to Hyderabad I used to meet him and love for Urdu poetry was a common ground."

From its conception, the event was meant to showcase not only the man behind the name, Makhdoom, but also the context that made him what he was - the context of Hyderabad from the early Thirties to mid Sixties.

After completing MA in Urdu Literature from Osmania University, and having taught at the City College, Makhdoom took to active politics, being involved with the CPI, and trade union movements, besides taking part in the Telangana armed struggle and spent some time underground.

He was leader of the Opposition and a legislator. He has his own distinction in Urdu literature as a poet.

He published two anthologies, Surkh Savera and Gulo Tar - and poems from these two anthologies were brought out in Bisate Raks, in Urdu and Hindi.

It may be timely to dwell on the life and times of Makhdoom - in the immediate context of Husain's remembrance - through memories shared by his old time associates and his family members.

It is said of Makhdoom that most of his poetry was result of his everyday musings, composed in the midst of his intense political work, including some `breaking forth' from even casual conversations. For instance, Phir Chidi Raat (adapted in the film Bazaar), was apparently inspired from a conversation centered on the refrain, phoolon ki - between singer Shakila Bano Bhupali, poet Shahid Siddiqui and Makhdoom, in 1963.

The highlight of the evening was Nadira Babbar's deeply felt recitation of Intezar -- saans ki tarah aap aate rahe, jate rahe.

She also recited the famous phir chidi raat baat phoolon ki. Nadira shared with the audience the `relationship of ideas' that she and her family shared with Makhdoom chacha - her father, Syed Sajjad Saeed himself a part of the Progressive Writers Movement. Mala Bararia, with Mughni, added rare beauty to Aap ki yaad aati rahi rat bhar interspersed with Faiz's adaptation of Makhdoom's popular poem.

Artist Laxma Goud remembers Makhdoom thus - "Makhdoom came to see my work when Suryaprakash and I worked in a small garage opposite MLA quarters; and on seeing a drawing of mine - a bird looming over the cityscape, he said, there is an element of darkness in your work."

The sheer charm of the evening may be summed up in words of Laxma Goud, "this is the `zauk' typical of Hyderabadi atmosphere - there is soul and depth in this evening; it feels like a jatara, where it was not the mere religiosity, but the inner need for people to meet each other.

It is not the material success or physical space that makes such contexts happen but the magnanimity of the heart, which Husain has."

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