154 yrs after he died, ’emperor of romance’ Ghalib lives in his poetry

Even 154 years after his death, the legendary Urdu-Persian poet — Mirza Beg Asadullah Khan, or just Mirza Ghalib — often referred to as the ’emperor of romance’, continues to live and thrive in public minds through his evergreen and raging verses or couplets.

A first-ever dedicated two-day festival to celebrate the life and times of the romanticist Ghalib opened in Mumbai, organised by the Pasbaan-E-Adab (Defenders of Literature), starting with a tribute to the 26/11 martyrs by students of various Urdu schools in the Mumbai metropolitan region.

Named as ‘Meeras: The Heritage’, the event has brought together some of the biggest names in the world of literature with mushairas, musical shows, Sufiana Kalams, literary quiz and sessions for young and upcoming poets, said the 12-year-old Pasbaan-E-Adab’s guiding spirit, IPS officer Quaiser Khalid.

“Ghalib was an important figure in our history and our rich literature. He was witness to some of the biggest events that shaped the country’s future, and which immensely inspired his writings and he continues to influence generations after his passing,” Khalid told IANS.

Born in Agra, Ghalib (December 27, 1797-February 15, 1868) hailed from a family of Mughals with mixed lineage of Indian, Persian, Turk, Kashmiri, but was orphaned at a tender age and was raised by relatives.

When he was just 13, he was married to Umrao Begum, coming from a princely (Nawab) family and moved to Delhi, the hub of the Mughal Empire which was just starting to crack under British domination.

Struggling on all fronts, Ghalib described life as a ‘sentence’ followed by marriage which was another ‘imprisonment’ and these became the theme of his poetry on many occasions, and seemed to strike a chord with the connoisseurs.

“He lived a full life for 71 years and also witnessed the collapse of the mighty Mughal Empire, the rise of the ruthless British Rule, the Indian Mutiny (1857) — which was the first war for Indian Independence. All these significant events had a great influence on Ghalib and consequently, on his writings,” explained Khalid.

The fest – which is being held at the Y.B. Chavan Centre in Nariman Point, has attracted the creme-de-la-creme of the Indian literary world, with well-known Urdu poet Shamim Tarique delivering the opening remarks on Saturday.

In the series of Ghalib-themed events lined up for two days, there are special performances by Gayatri Sapre and Sameer Samant — ‘Nijat Ka Talib, Ghalib’, a panel discussion on Sufism vis-a-vis Urdu poetry by the Sufi singer Dhruv Sangari along with Shamim Tarique.

Sitar maestro Ustad Shujaat Khan will be a show-stopper with a classical rendition of Ghalib’s ghazals and poetry, besides a Qawwali rendition by Majid Shola, the exponent of the unique fading singing form.

Top litterateurs like Javed Akhtar, Irshad Kamil, Ranjeet Singh Chauhan, Madan Mohan Danish, Rajneesh Garg, Farhat Ehsaas, Shaheed Latif, Pragya Sharma, Atul Agarwal, A.K. Tripathi, Inteza Nishad, among many others from all over India shall attend the festival.

The Pasbaan-E-Adab team shall felicitate and honour people who have helped popularise and promote Hindustani languages among the masses with the ‘Sahir Ludhianvi Award’ during the festival.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at q.najmi@ians.in)




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