Poet of 'gulaab' and 'inquilaab': Tracing the great Majaz Lakhnawi's life & his roots to Lucknow
Lucknow, the city of Nawabs, is renowned for its culture, where people of fine taste reside. Be it food, drama or the arts, people here have always appreciated creative minds. In fact, the Nawabs of Lucknow famously were great patrons of art.
But somewhere over the decades, Lucknow has found itself stuck in the whirlwind of industrialization and this new age. With the overarching presence of night clubs and skyscrapers, a fragment of Lucknow continues to sink further out of the collective memory.
One such significant bit of the city's history is Asrar Ul Haq, better known as Majaz Lakhnawi — one of Lucknow's greatest yet forgotten poets.
Majaz Lakhnawi: The Keats of Urdu Poetry
The poetry of Majaz combines the two themes of 'romance' and 'revolution'. His contemporaries believed him to be way ahead of his time, penning some of the most progressive poems of that time. Naturally, Majaz gained immense popularity.
In fact, when the legendary actress Nargis arrived in Lucknow, she expressed the desire to meet Majaz and even took his autograph in her diary. With his beautiful writing and carefree demeanor, Majaz gradually became the people's favorite at mushairas in Lucknow, along with Ali Sardar Jafri.
In his prime, Majaz became a fixture at All India Radio in both Delhi and Lucknow. He also wrote the taraana (anthem) for the Aligarh Muslim University, where he studied. At AMU, he was a favorite of girls, thanks to his beautiful poetry and hilarious wit.
The Troubled Artist
Notwithstanding the beauty of Majaz's poetry, he had his fair share of struggles with the ugly side of life. From failure in love to severe alcoholism, his life was nowhere near as free-flowing and pleasant as his seminal works.
But no matter what life threw at him, Majaz took it all in his stride. His signature sense of humor, coupled with a stark sense of self-awareness helped him cope with all the turmoil in his personal life. And that is what made him an enigma, both as an artist and an individual.
Majaz and Lucknow
Majaz had spent a few years in Delhi but returned to Lucknow after getting his heart broken. In Lucknow, he used to reside with his sister Safia Akhtar (mother of Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar) in Nishatganj. In the city, he liked to stroll in the lanes of Lalbagh and frequent places like the famous Indian Coffee House in Hazratganj.
Today, Majaz is buried in obscurity in a Nishatganj graveyard. With him is the grave of one person who never left his side — his sister. Very few people in the locality know that one of the most loved progressive Urdu Poets to have ever graced Lucknow rests just a few paces from his house.