Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi

Film lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar on Wednesday said that despite the political and economic shifts in India, his late father-in-law and poet Kaifi Azmi retained his idealism and remained optimistic of a socialist future for the country.

Kaifi’s optimism was reflected in poetry replete with dreams of a socialist egalitarian society in which the voice of another fellow human being would be heard like a resonating sound of one’s self, he added.

Javed was delivering the inaugural address at a National Seminar on ‘Kaifi Azmi: A Life in Creative Pursuits’ at the Kennedy Auditorium of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

The seminar, which was presided over by AMU Vice Chancellor, Lt. General Zameer Uddin Shah (Retd), was organised by the institute in collaboration with the Sahitya Academy, New Delhi.


Javed said that today market forces and globalisation may have made society more selfish and self-centred, but no human society can thrive if it fails to heed the call for justice to all sections, especially the marginalised, poor and downtrodden.

Akhtar said that Kaifi Azmi was a torchbearer for all these values which were manifested in the spirit of the Progressive Writers’ Movement of the 1930s. He said that the man, who ultimately became his father-in-law, was his true mentor and from him he had imbibed the values which taught him the importance of the “right to dissent” and the “right to freedom of speech”.

He said that it was sad that in today’s world when a person speaks out against “injustice” committed by society, most people tend to dismiss such utterances as “propaganda”.

Shabana too remembered her father as a person who was very different from other fathers. She said that she was a ‘different’ daughter of a ‘different’ father.

“In fact, I displayed it with such newfound confidence that instead of being sniggered at by my classmates, I became an object of envy,” she said.

The actress said he taught her two fundamentals of life.

The first lesson which Kaifi gave to his daughter was “in whatever field you are, even if it is a humble vocation, try to be the best”. The second lesson was “never shy away from speaking the truth even if the tide is going against you”.

Delivering the keynote address at the seminar, Irtiza Kareem, director, National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, New Delhi, said that like other famous poets, Kaifi Azmi began as a ghazal writer, cramming his poetry with the repeated themes of love and romance in a style that was replete with cliches and metaphors. However, his association with the Progressive Writers’ Movement and Communist Party made him embark on the path of social discourse.

“Kaifi’s poetry continues to influence generations for passionate espousal of causes. His poems celebrate love, compassion and human equality. The lyrical beauty and powerful expression of his film songs have captivated millions,” he said.

Inputs by IANS

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