Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar find the right words

02 December,2022 07:20 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Upala KBR

Unique endeavour that saw Shabana, Javed collate pieces of respective fathers-in-law culminates in book launch

Shabana Azmi with Javed Akhtar



Veterans Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar are set on a new endeavour - come Sunday, the duo will launch the works of their poet-fathers in the form of published pieces. Dhanak, a collection of pieces written by Jan Nisar Akhtar, and Daaera, which will include the works of Kaifi Azmi will be unveiled at an event in Delhi.

Shabana tells mid-day, "I can*t remember who initiated this conversation. It was such an organic process. Both of us are admirers of these two great poets. The least we could do as their progeny was make a selection of their work available to a larger audience. Minakshi Thakur, the editor and publisher, loved the idea. The books have long forewords by us, which will provide glimpses into their personal lives and their poetry." While Shabana served as the editor on her father-in-law*s works, Javed edited Azmi*s collection.

Daeera - a collection Kaifi Azmi*s works - means circle, and is also a poem of Azmi, Dhanak (right) means rainbow, and was a title suggested by Javed

Highlighting her husband*s process in zeroing in on the poems he wanted to include in Azmi*s collection, Shabana says, "He didn*t want to include ghazals, because, he believes they get lost in translation. He wanted to choose only nazms. I, on the other hand, find ghazals charming and feel they should reach larger audiences because they exist only in Urdu."

However, her job, she says, was a tad challenging. "I went over [Akhtar*s] work, month after month. I chose to include a poem that Akhtar saheb has dedicated to his daughter, Uneza, that she has translated because it has such a strong emotional resonance. Akhtar saheb is such a prolific writer that it is daunting to make a selection of only 25 poems. I wondered what his fans, or Javed*s brother Salman would opine of my selection. In the end, I decided to choose the ones that spoke to me, personally."

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The late poets* love for writing, she reveals, brought them together at some point in their journeys. "They belonged to the same circle, and were members of the Progressive Writers Association. They knew each other well. In fact, my mother remembers meeting Javed for the first time when he was just five years old, and had accompanied his mother Safia Akhtar to our house. Our parents come from such similar backgrounds that Javed often remarks that we should have had an arranged marriage!"

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