Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Who is Shahryar?

Q: Who is Shahryar?
Shahryar is the famous Urdu poet from India who has been conferred with the Jnanpith, India's topmost award in the field of literature.

Q: Is Shahryar his real name?
No. His real name is Kunwar Akhlaq Mohammed Khan.

Q: How old is he?
He is 74. He was born on June 16, 1936.

Q: His birthplace?
Anwala village in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh.

Q: Aligarh Muslim University alumni are ecstatic at the honor given to him. Was he associated with the university? In what way?
Shahryar is a quintessential AMU alumnus. He was associated with the university's Urdu department for several years and served as lecturer, reader, professor and department chairman. He retired from active service in 1996. It is also worth noting that he spent his formative years at AMU City High School and also completed his graduate studies at AMU. Perhaps his greatest assignment has been editorship of "Fikr-o-Nazar", the university's prestigious research publication. He was also member-in-charge of the university's Public Relations Office for some time.

Q: Is Jnanpith his first award?
No. He got the Sahitya Akademy Award in 1987 for his anthology of Urdu poetry titled, "Khwab Ka Dar Band Hai".

Q: Is he the first Urdu litterateur to get the Jnanpith?
No. He is the fourth. Firaq Gorakhpuri (1969), Qurratulain Haider (1989) and Ali Sardar Jafri (1997) were the previous recipients of the award.

Q: Your favorite couplets from Shahryar?
These two from his ghazal "Zindagi Jaisi Tamanna Thi Nahin Kuch Kam Hai" are my favorite. He read this ghazal at the mushaira in Jeddah on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010, a day before the Jnanpith award was announced. This ghazal is perhaps closest to Shahryar's heart as well because he recites this one at all poetry gatherings. He did recite this in the 2005 Jeddah mushaira as well.

Ghar Ki Taameer Tasawwur Hi Me Ho Sakti Hai
Apne Naqshe Ke Mutaabiq Ye Zameen Kuch Kam Hai

Bichde Logon Se Mulaqaat Kabhi Phir Hogi
Dil Me Ummeed To Kaafi Hai Yaqeen Kuch Kam Hai

Q: What is so great about Shahryar's poetry?
I put that question to Hifzur Rahman, the Riyadh-based Indian diplomat, who is himself a connoisseur of Urdu poetry and literature. This is what he has to say: "Shahryar's greatest contribution is that he refused to break the mold of ghazal. What he did was to add a dash of modernity to this popular genre without tampering with its traditional structure. This is a particularly tough task, but not for Shahryar. He came out with some of the best lines in Urdu poetry."

From Siraj Wahab's post in Notes from Arabia. More Here

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