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Company Profile

Science & Technology

Special Report

By Syed M. Aslam
Mar 26 - Apr 01, 2001

Annual 'Alami Mushaira' — International poetry rendition event — has become an integral part of Karachi's social and cultural mosaic. Renowned Urdu poets from across the globe participating in the event draws tens of thousands of poetry lovers to hear their favourite poets in person. This year, the event which continued till dawn on March 10, lingered on another ten days as numerous similar events were organised by many individuals, clubs and organisations. As usual, Indian poets made up the biggest contingent of all the foreign participants. Adil Luckhnavi, a hilariously comic poet who participated in the event for the first time received a warm welcome, and uncountable encores, and tickling the inherent funny fancies of the listeners deep inside. Born Muhammad Ahmed and raised in the literary historic city of Lucknow, during his short stay Adil seem to hit an instant literary chord in and recognition from thousands of poetry lovers of Karachi. Poetry came to Adil naturally at a tender age of 15. He has participated in countless mushairas across India and many more outside the country — twice in Dubai, Muscat and the US each and once in Jeddah. Till 1972, Adil remained faithfully indulged only in what is classified as serious poetry, a form which he still practices. However, comic poetry has become his identity today. PAGE talked to him hours just few hours before he flew back to his native India.

Us zamanay may ye hota tha kay khatay thay buzurg
Naekiyan karkay daryaon may dubona chahiyay
Iss zamanay may mera yeh mushvira hay dostoan
Karkay naekey radio say nashar karna chahiay

PAGE: What impressions of Karachi are you taking with you?

Adil: I felt as if I have taken aback a full generation. While there is no restriction by the Indian government to learn Urdu — one can take it as an additional subject in schools, colleges and universities, it is the people themselves who seem less inclined to familiar their children to learn the language. It is particularly true with the affluent Muslims of India. I was awed by the fact that how better Urdu is understood by the masses here and the atmosphere which it requires. Even those who choose to learn Urdu in India are affected by the outside environs and as such the real understanding of Urdu is on a decline.

PAGE: Why did you choose to convert to comic poetry?

Adil: There were times when comic poetry was treated as a third-grade muse. In many cases, comic poets were only given a chance to render their poetry long past the recitation by the chief guest. For a brief period during 1965-1970 I moved to Bombay with my family. When I came back to Lucknow, I realised that though my peers were invited to poetry rendition events I was left out, not only in the big ones but also the smaller ones organised in my own locality. This made me ponder the reason for absence of invitations. It made me take a long hard look at myself and my chosen craft — was I a lesser poet (the most abominal of thought among poets irrespective of calibre) or was there something with my voice? The soul searching, finally, made me turn to comic poetry which has become my identity today.

PAGE: What is the future of Urdu in Hindi-speaking India?

Adil: There definitely is a future despite the rise of Hindiisation of language. The lack of interest to learn Urdu, which is still offered as an additional subject throughout the curriculum upto University level, by people themselves remains the real problem. It must clarify that I am against making it a political issue. As a poet I realise that language, any language, is just a vehicle for expressing thoughts and expression including poetry. I prefer to use only Urdu as it best facilitates me to convey my poetic thoughts and expressions.

PAGE: What about its global future?

Adil: It is exceptionally bright and will get brighter with the passage of time. This is primarily due to migration of hundreds of thousands of Indians and Pakistanis, the centres of Urdu literature. It may be remembered that the Centennial celebrations of Ghalib were first celebrated in the US over 30 years ago long before it was celebrated in India.

PAGE: Who are your favourite contemporary Urdu poets?

Adil: I greatly admire Bashir Badar and Nida Fazli in India and Ahmed Faraz and John Alia in Pakistan.

PAGE: Any message you would like to give?

Adil: I offer love to the peoples of both India and Pakistan. They both can still live in love and harmony. I feel that fundamentalism, not in the meaning we have become accustomed to use it, is good for us. A person who firmly practices a religion, irrespective of his faith, becomes a good human being as no religion teaches causing harm to others. Which religion teaches that truthfulness is not good?