Remembering Fazli: A poet of pain whose words will live on forever

Remembering Fazli: A poet of pain whose words will live on forever

By MOHAMMED ANAS | | 13 February, 2016
Urdu poet and lyricist Nida Fazli.
The highly-acclaimed Urdu poet and lyricist Nida Fazli passed away last week at the age of 78. Inspired by medieval poets like Surdas and Mira Bai, Fazli gave expression to the poignancy of life, hoping for a better tomorrow, writes Mohammed Anas.

Perhaps when reality of life bites you, the essence of poetry dawns on you: kabhi kisi ko mukammal jahan nahin milta, kahin zameen to kahin aasman nahi milta (in other words, who gets his cup full in life?). Renowned poet and lyricist Nida Fazli, who breathed his last in Mumbai this week, penned these lines for the movie Ahista Ahista  and they continue to soothe the heartbroken ever since.

Taking a reflection (aks) of the experiences of life, and to express it in very simple and profound words was Nida’s style.

Muqtada Hasan Fazli, pen name Nida, was born to Kashmiri parents in Old Delhi. His father himself was an Urdu poet. During Partition, his parents migrated to Pakistan, while he stayed back, and later settled in Mumbai, trying his luck in films and journalism.

In a television interview, Nida revealed that it was the medieval poet Surdas who inspired him. “Once, I was passing by a temple and overheard the priest reciting Sur’s pad (verses) depicting pain of the lovers of Krishna. Portrayal of pain became my style, and later I mixed lyricism of Kabeer and Meera into it,” he revealed.

His ghazals are known for the crisp amalgamation of dohaas and nazm in a very colloquial language. Sample this couplet: duniya jise kehte hain, jadoo ka khilona hai; mil jaye to mitti hai, kho jaye to sona hai (the world you know is like a magic toy; once in hand, it turns into soil, but when lost, it becomes gold).

In Mumbai, Nida’s poetry caught connoisseurs’ attention and he became a darling of mushairas. Albeit his journalism stints with Dharmyug and Blitz, edited by the legendary Dharmveer Bharti and K.A. Abbas, earned him enmity of his contemporaries like Sahir Ludhianwi, Kaifi Azmi, Jan Nissar Akhtar, etc. He flayed poetry of these poets for reasons only known to him. And when he got a big break for writing lyrics of Kamal Amrohi’s Razia Sultan, it was because of the sudden passing of the original lyricist for the film, Jan Nissar Akhtar. But his song for the film tera hijr mera naseeb hai (your separation is my destiny) went on to etch his name in the pantheon of the best of all poignant songs ever written for films. He began writing for films more often. More pain flowed from his pen: ghar se masjid hai bahut door chalon yun kar lein, kisi rote huye bache ko hansaya jaye (film, Tamanna); koi faryad tere dil mein dabi ho jaise (film, Tum Bin); and ishq keejiye phir samajhye zindagi kya cheez hai (film, Sarfarosh).

Extremely choosy when it came to writing for films, Nida’s oeuvre is too limited, but his ghazals have been sung by singers like Jagjit Singh and Bhupinder Singh, and others. Jagjit’s rendition of his ghazals, like Hoshwalon ko khabar kyaKiska chehra ab mein dekhoonApna gham lekar kahin aur ja are often played on radio.

All his life, Nida fought religious bigotry and championed the cause of secularism in India. He wrote, girja mein, mandiron mein, azanon mein bant gaya, subah hote hi insaan kitne khanon mein bant gaya (In churches, in temples, and in mosques, as the dawn broke, a man split into these categories).

He was ruthless against political leaders, right from Nehru to Modi. He took on Nehru thus: Station per khatam ki bharat teri khoj, Nehru ne likha nahin kuli ke sar ka bojh (Nehru ended his Discovery of India at the station, but he didn’t write about burden on porter’s shoulders).

In one of the last mushairas he attended, he summed up current Modi government thus:

Bahar jhadu haath mein, andar bhari babool

Usko bhi  to saaf kar tujh  mein  jo  he dhool

Ghumsum ganga ghat hain, chup chup hai Gujarat

Bada karke so gaye sab ache din raat

(You show off broom in your hand, and nurture a babool inside

You should first dust off dirt inside your heart

Forlorn are banks of the Ganga, and Gujarat is quiet too

It seems good days are fast asleep after selling false dreams)

Nida’s nida (voice) will continue to regale, awaken India.

Born to a Kashmiri family in Delhi, Nida Fazli grew up in Gwalior, where he attended school and subsequently studied English literature. His father was also an Urdu poet. During the partition of India, his parents migrated to Pakistan, but Fazli decided to stay in India.
Poetry collections
  • Lafzon ke phool
  • Mor Naach
  • Aankh aur Khwab ke Darmiyaan
  • Safar mein dhoop to hogi
  • khoya hua sa kuch
  • Duniya ek khilona hai


  • Sahitya Akademi Award in Urdu for Khoya Hua Sa Kuchh (Poetry collection) in 1998
  • Star Screen Award for Best Lyricist for Sur in 2003
  • Bollywood Movie Award — Best Lyricist for Aa Bhi Ja from Sur in 2003
  • Awarded Padma Shri in 2013
Filmography (As dialogue writer)
  • Dev (2004) (co-writer)
  • Yatra (2006)
Filmography (as lyricist)
  • Aap To Aise Na The (1980)
  • Nakhuda (1981)
  • Harjaee (1981)
  • Anokha Bandhan (1982)
  • Razia Sultan (1983)
  • Vijay (1988)
  • Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin (1996)
  • Tamanna (1997) - Ghar se masjid hai
  • Sarfarosh (1999) - “Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya”
  • Sur – The Melody of Life (2002) - (Aa bhee jaa, ai subha aa bhee jaa)’
  • Dev (2004)
  • Yatra (2006)


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