India Abroad February 19, 2016
When the news broke that poet Nida Fazli had died, the first thought that came to my mind was this beautiful
Urdu couplet penned by him:
Kabhi kisi ko muqammal jahaan nahin
Kahin zameen kahin aasman nahin milta
No one gets a perfect world
If you get land, you don’t get the sky.
Tere jahaan mein aisa nahin ke pyar na ho
Jahaan umeed ho iski, vahaan nahin milta
It is not that you don’t get love in this world
But not from where you expect to find love.
The beauty of this Urdu shayri, and the
philosophy of life it encapsulates, has been so
well described by Nida Fazli in mere four
lines that for generations to come it will be
difficult for any other Urdu poet to attain
such high standards.
My first meeting with Fazli was at a
musha-ira where I recall everybody sat and waited
for what he had to say. He was the ultimate
authority on Urdu poetry, and nobody came
anywhere close to his standards. My all-time
favorite Nida Fazli couplet was:
Apni marzi se kahaan apney safar
ke hum hain
Rukh hawaaon ka jidhar ka hai,
udhar ke hum hain
We don’t follow our own paths in life
But that of the winds wherever they take us.
Pehle har cheez thi apni magar ab lagta hai
Apne hi ghar mein kisi doosre ghar
ke hum hain
Earlier everything at home was ours
It feels I am not in my own home anymore.
During the 1992-93 Mumbai riots, when
the city was burning, Fazli suddenly went missing, causing alarm among his many follow-ers. Many Muslim homes had been targeted
by right-wing Hindu mob post the Babri
Masjid demolition riots, and those housing
well-known names were singled out. Calls to Fazli’s landline
phone went unanswered and nobody knew what had happened to him.
It was only after a week that one came to know that he was
alive and had moved out of his home for
This was not the first time Fazli had to bear
the brunt of Hindu-Muslim riots. Post-Parti-tion, his entire family moved to Pakistan, but
he remained in India. Taking a dig at religion
in one of his Urdu shayris, he wrote:
Bachcha bola dekh kar masjid aali-shaan
Allah tere ek ko itna bada makaan.
On seeing the splendid mosque the child
Allah, such a huge house for you alone!
Fazli came to Mumbai from Gwalior in
1964 and started out by writing for Hindi
and Urdu newspapers. He tried his hand at
Bollywood lyrics, but unlike other Urdu poets
he could never achieve great success in the
He had to compete with the likes of Urdu
greats like Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh Sultan-puri, Kaifi Azmi and Hasrat Jaipuri who
were then ruling Bollywood with their pen.
Another reason often quoted is Fazli’s temperament; he
was very outspoken, even rude at times.
I recall once he had been invited as chief guest for an event.
As he came and sat on the chair in the auditorium, the audi-
ences were amazed to see the
great poet in person in their
But before the program was
about to begin, he said he want-
ed to ease himself and left. As
the audiences waited, he never
came back. He also switched
off his phone and the function
had to go on without him.
Such was his temperament,
but then if you are Nida Fazli
you had to be different.
In the film world he did not
get success early on. It was only
in the early 1980s that he made
a mark as a poet with the
famous song from the
movie Ahista Ahista — Kabhi
Kisi Ko Muqammal Jahaan
Nahi Milta sung by Bhupinder
His other famous song came
almost two decades later, in
Aamir Khan’s Sarfarosh.
Hosh walon ko khabar kya
bekhudi kya cheez hai
Ishq kijiye phir samajhiye
zindagi kya cheez hai.
The self-conscious don’t under-
stand what it means to be in
Fall in love and you will under-
stand what life is.
It was sung by Jagjit Singh
who was his dear friend. The
two of them collaborated on
many other songs, too.
In an interview with the
Pakistani newspaper Dawn,
Perhaps it was in the fitness of things that Nida Fazli died
February 8, which was also Singh’s birth anniversary. n
Nida Fazli was one of my father (poet-thinker Jan Nissar Akhtar)’s protégés. He spent a
lot of time with my father. He was very
close to him, so I inherited Nida Fazli.
We became friends, and when I started
writing poetry, he was definitely one of
those seniors who encouraged me.
Nida was a poet with a highly original
mind and style, and he practiced a highly unorthodox approach to poetry. His
poems express thoughts that have not
been expressed before.
He avoided clichés. He refused to conform to set patterns and would not say
in his poetry what had already been
said. Woh koi nayi baat lekar aate the
(he used to emerge with a new thought).
His language was accessible to both
Urdu and Hindi-speaking people. Nida
Fazli’s language was a bridge between
Urdu and Hindi. The language that he
used was neither Hindi nor Urdu, it was
His poems are deeply rooted to the
Indian poetic heritage. He could dig
deep into the ancestry of poetry. He
could make a connection not only with
Mir Taqi Mir or Mirza Ghalib, he could
find a link with Tulsi, Kabir and Mirabai
also. Unhone dohe bahot likhe hain (he
wrote a lot of couplets).
I don’t think he has written too many
film songs. His contribution goes way
I met him in Goa a month back when
both of us had gone there to attend a
wedding. He was in fine health. We
shared some valuable conversations and
thoughts. Who was to know it would be
our last meeting?
— As told to Subhash K Jha
Poet and lyricist
of the great
For generations to
come it will be
for another to
attain such high
Nida Fazli, who
February 8, says