Shabana Azmi on father Kaifi Azmi's birth anniversary: He used poetry as a tool for change

Updated: Dec 19, 2018, 12:24 IST | Sonil Dedhia

Shabana Azmi organises Raag Shayari to commemorate father Kaifi Azmi's birth anniversary

Shabana Azmi with husband Javed Akhtar
Shabana Azmi with husband Javed Akhtar

To mark the centenary birth anniversary of legendary poet-lyricist Kaifi Azmi on January 14, daughter and actor Shabana Azmi has planned a year-long celebration in his honour. Titled Raag Shayari, the event includes a series of pan-India shows that will put the spotlight on Azmi's celebrated Urdu works. Poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar, singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan and tabla maestro Zakir Hussain will join forces to pay tribute to one of the pioneers of Urdu literature who gave us gems in Aurat, Makaan and Daayra, among others.

Talking to mid-day, Shabana reveals Raag Shaayri was husband Akhtar's brainchild. "Javed felt that his [Kaifi Azmi] work should reach out to people who don't necessarily understand Urdu. So, the event will have Javed recite the poems in Urdu, and I will recite the English translation. Shankar Mahadevan will sing them while Ustad Zakir Hussain will interpret it on tabla. They have all come on board without asking any question, so we are thankful to them."

Kaifi Azmi
Kaifi Azmi

Directed by Feroz Abbas Khan, the first show kicks off on January 13 at NCPA in Mumbai, followed by a show for Mijwan [an NGO supported by the Azmi family] on January 14. The third show will take place on January 17 in Kolkata. The veteran actor adds that mushairas and seminars have been lined up across cities, as part of the celebrations.

"A documentary on my father's work is also being made," she adds. From championing women empowerment to socialism, Azmi's poems reflected the truth of society. The actor says the unvarnished honesty of her father's work makes them relevant even today. "He was a rare poet. He used his work as an instrument for change. He wrote a poem, Aurat, more than 75 years ago, which spoke about women empowerment then. Similarly, we can relate to his work on social justice as we are witnessing it all around us today."

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