The Colossal Giant of Dr. Rahat Indori
Muntazir hoon ki sitaron ki zara aankh lagey
Chand ko chhat pur bula lunga ishaara kar ke
If this living world has begun feeling gloomy and desolate, it is because souls are rejoicing listening to Marhoom Rahat Indori’s couplets. It takes more than a lifetime to have an impact like Rahat Sahab did. Coming from a penurious background, he understood that in order to have a sustained life, he would need something more than just Urdu poetry recitation. Therefore, he began as a student and then teacher of the Urdu language and left as one of its most celebrated poets.
Dr. Rahat Indori was a poet who mastered the art of reciting in a mushaira. This could also be attributed to the fact that he had completed his PhD with a thesis titled Urdu Main Mushaira. He usually had a style which relayed that he had gulped down a few strong drinks beforehand. His style of delivering couplets would be such a sight that even the weakest of his lines would come off as the strongest. The use of language in a manner that seemed as though water in its natural flow made his poetry reach the deepest of masses.
His couplet which goes Sabhi ka khoon hai shamil yahan ki mitti mein Kisi ke baap ka Hindostan thodi hai became a war cry against oppression in the recent protests opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. At a time when his health was failing, he registered his protest against oppression and division by participating in a mushaira in Hyderabad. There, he began his recital by saying “Mai ek aise mulk mein ke jahan jamhuriyat naam ki koi cheez nahin hai, jashn e jamhuriyat mananey aaya hoon”.
While Rahat Indori was still growing as a poet, he became sought after for his song lyrics as well. Music directors like A.R. Rahman, Anu Malik and Shankar Ehsaan Loy worked with him to deliver some of the biggest Bollywood hits in the late 90s and 00s. Bumbro from Mission Kashmir, Tumsa Koi Pyara from Khuddar, Dil Ko Hazaar Baar from Murder and Aaj Humne Dil Ka from Sir, happen to be his writings. He also gave three songs for Rajkumar Hirani’s hit film Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.
An issue which began cropping up during Rahat Sahab’s later years as a poet was the growth of Social Media Poets. He was a staunch critic of people who would write poetry only for the sake of popularity and earning. He would admonish opportunists who would share the stage with him and this led to him not being invited again in the same gathering. In an event when a question was raised regarding this, he said that poetry had become bazaari. He went on to emphasize that poetry was meant to come from the heart and reach other hearts but when you write it from the lips, it doesn’t penetrate the listeners hearts. He said that this was due to the sponsors of Kavi Sammelan or Mushaira, who insisted on having a certain poet or poetess just because they liked their poetry. The certain poet or poetess may not have the requisite skills but because the sponsor ordered it, the inevitable was to happen.
A mushaira titled Jashn e Rahat was held in Rahat Sahab’s hometown in the month of December 2019 for commemorating his 50 years as a poet. It featured accomplished poets like Munawwar Rana, Javed Akhtar, Abrar Kashif, Tahir Faraz, Manzar Bhopali, Satyanarayan Sattan, Kumar Vishwas and Naeem Khadmi among others. The celebration received national coverage and was a sight to behold.
Rahat Sahab’s death has left a deep void. A true student of the language, he left as a person who uplifted the language onto a pedestal, one which may not have been the case of those before him.
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