Poetry fest started by Mumbai IPS officer turns five

Izhaar, a Hindi and Urdu poetry festival started by a Mumbai IPS officer, is set to enter its fifth year

With a mild chuckle, Quaiser Khalid dismisses the idea of being in an unlikely profession. “My job brings me close to problems, pains and crisis of people everyday. I try to understand them, try to empathise and after work I reflect and write,” says the Sahitya Akademi-award winning poet and additional commissioner of the local armed police of Mumbai city.

Quaiser Khalid (centre) with Naseeruddin Shah

The officer’s journey as a poet began 10 years ago, when his friends, after reading his poetry, encouraged him to write more and read out his work in mushairas. In this process, he also realised the importance of more forums for poetry along with a diminishing quality of writing in Urdu. He started a socio-cultural organisation, which started hosting an international Hindi and Urdu poetry festival, Izhaar, five years ago. “If they have only chatpata to eat, one cannot expect people to appreciate or want delicacies. That is why it is important to introduce listeners to fine poetry and poets,” Khalid explains.

Quaiser Khalid

Though he faced some
difficulties in the beginning, he started getting a steady flow of support from friends and like-minded people, and soon the festival started growing in size. “I can manage this because of the support I get. There have been people from all fields — engineers, businessmen, government officers — who make the event possible with their passion,” he says. The festival has hosted poets from across the country and abroad.

Khalid says that he has received much support from his colleagues too. With juniors and seniors congratulating him when he received the Maharashtra Sahitya Akademi Award this year. “Given the identity of a poet, I am often asked to speak or host events in our official gatherings. And some officers do come to attend the poetry festival,” he says.

Conceived as Anjuman Faroghe Adab in 2012, the organisation was renamed as Jashn-e-Adab in 2013 before finally becoming Paasban-e-Adab in 2014. This year, his labour of love, the festival Izhaar, will enter its fifth year. The event has gained in size, technology and popularity. With poets from India and abroad, there will be YouTube introductions and a live television broadcast. Mumbai University, the venue of the event, is also a partner of this year’s festival along with some corporate brands.

He insists that poetry is a force that unites people and brings peace. “We are united in our grief, our innermost feelings and our relationship with the environment. We are united in the way lines stir us,” he says, adding, “We are forgetting our legends and our rich tradition with the words, and it is very sad. Apart from the festival, Pasbaane-e-Adab, also hosts an annual event, Meeras, where a short film is made on the lives of and works of poets and writers who have passed away. At this event, other poets recite poetry by the legends.

ON May 7, 6.30 pm
AT Mumbai University, Convocation Hall, MG Road, Fort.
CALL 9224777707

List of poets

Ashok Chakradhar, Delhi
Aslam Farshori, Hyderabad
Mohib Kausar, Gulbarga
Hamid Iqbal, Mumbai
Ghulam Nabi Ghafil, J&K
Khursheed Akbar, Patna
Anwar Shawoor, international
Ozair Ahmad, international
Asghar Nadeem Syed, international
Ataul Haq Qasmi, international
Malka Naseem, Jaipur
Shariq Kaifee, Barielly
Javed Akhtar, Mumbai
Ranjeet Chauhan, Delhi
Athar Shakeel, Mumbai
Quaiser Khalid, Mumbai
Gopal Das Neeraj, Lucknow
Noaman Shauq, Delhi
Nadeem Siddiqi, Mumbai   

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