It is of course a coincidence that the poet’s birthday falls on the same day as International Women’s Day, but many would say it is a fateful event, given the way Sahir Ludhianvi wrote about the women.
Since time immemorial, poets have been people who have held up a mirror to society and empowered the oppressed. Sahir Ludhianvi is one of those poets and songwriters, whose poetry finds its light on the margins of society, whose words ring the mightiest weapons, and whose work resonates with generations to come long after his life. In a time and place where art is insignificant and fame fleeting, it is Ludhianvi who finds herself embellished in the history books, as well as in popular culture.
In something as recent as Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi, the poet receives a poignant tribute when Gangu asks the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, “Jinhen Naaz Hain Hind By Woh Kahaan Hain?” a song that featured in Guru Dutt pyaasa . HHowever, a lesser known fact is this ‘Jinhen Naaz Hai Hind Par’ was not written for Pyaasa. Iit was rather a nazm which Ludhianvi wrote long before the film. Title Chaklethe powm’s hook line is “sanā-ḳhvān-e-taqdīs-e-mashriq kahāñ haiñ,” which roughly translates to “Where are those who pray to the sanctity of the East? » which was later simplified, and changed to “jinhen naaz hai hind by, woh kahaan hain” For the movie.
just like Chakle, Ludhianvi‘s poetry defends women and scratches the glittering curtains that hide their plight.
It is of course a coincidence that the poet’s birthday falls on the same day as International Women’s Day, but many would say it is a fateful event, given the way Ludhianvi wrote about the women.
He understood their pain, he despised men’s hypocrisy, and he blatantly wrote songs and poems that delved into the discourse of womanhood.
Chakle is just one example of his work on this theme. One year later Pyaasa, he wrote “aurat ne janam diya mardon ko, mardon ne usse bazaar diya. jab dil chaha masla-kuchla, jab ji chaha dutkaar diya” for BR Chopra Sadhna , where he speaks shamelessly about how men mistreat women despite the fact that they are the very force of nature that brought them into being. He wrote another poem about how the world reduces women to mere flesh and body, to forget that they also have souls and beating hearts. He writes, “Iog aurat ko faqat jism samajh lete hain, rooh bhi hoti hain uss mein yeh kahaan sochte hain, : and it is the dignity with which he wrote about women. The kind of dignity they sought everywhere, in their marriage, in their family, in their life, they found between the lines of Ludhianvi.
However, Ludhianvi did not limit himself only to the plight of women. He was an activist, and his activism was imprisoned in his art. He spoke of poverty, religious bigotry, capitalism and materialism, love and separation, oppression and rebellion. He sought change and peace while soaking his words in a wave of romance. Ludhianvi was a man of love who knew reality and pain deeply. A little like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a poet whom he admired with great admiration, in the world of Ludhianvi, romance and revolution co-existed at all times. If you looked for love in his words, you would find rebellion. If you were looking for revolution, you would find romance.
He is not a pal do pal ka shair; his poetry stirred the soul when he wrote it, and will do so for the greater part of this century. It’s nothing to be proud of, as Javed Akhtar once proclaimed when talking about Ludhainvi. He talked about how the fact that ‘Jinhe Naaz Hai Hind Par’ still strikes a chord with people, is unfortunate because it means that as a society we have been frozen in time with the same misfortunes plaguing our world that did then.
However, the fact is that seven decades later, Sahir Ludhianvi is more relevant than ever, as religious polarization divides our nation, I am brought back to his words -“My na Hindu banega, na , Musalmaan banega, insaan ki aulad hai, insaan banega.” He was a convinced layman and was disappointed with the society in which he lived. So, with his words, he demanded one that he thought was ideal. It’s funny how the face of power changes, but the tribulations remain constant. During his lifetime he was known as a poet who lived ahead of his time after his death he is known as a poet who lives after his time. While in reality, Sahir Ludhianvi refused to be bound by time constraints. After all, he was a man of words, and there is nothing more eternal than words.
As Sahir Ludhianvi celebrates his 101st birthday today March 8, it is imperative to celebrate him for the poet he was, for his words that even guns feared, and for his gift that keeps on giving yet. today. Poetry often accomplishes things the mightiest swords fail. As the world grapples with a war today, it is fitting to return to Ludhianvi’s poem, Ae Sharif Insaano, a nazm he wrote after the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965, where he said “Khoon apna ho ja priea ho, nasle aadam ka khoon hai aakhir. Jang mashrik mein ho ja magrib mein, apne aalam ka khoon hai aakhir.” Sahir Ludhianvi was known as the people’s poet, and seven decades later, people still find solace and refuge in his words.
Takshi Mehta is a freelance journalist and writer. She strongly believes that we are what we stand for, and so you will always find her wielding a pen.