|Biographical detail : ||Urdu poet
Kaifi Azmi was one of the last pillars of India’s progressive Urdu poets. A towering figure of the movement that he represented and whose poetry championed the cause of down-trodden and oppressed, and a great believer of secular values.
In 1943, Kaifi came to Bombay and began to work with the undivided Communist Party’s Urdu’s Qaumi Jung and Mazdoor Mohalla. He left behind indelible impression on Indian literature and society through his poetry and tireless efforts for social justice. His faith and poetry associated with socialism – he remained an active worker of the Communist Party of India until he died – even when the USSR disintegrated. He emerged as the poet of protest and set a trend to voice the stark realities of life including issues of bigotry, fanaticism and communalism through his poems and lyrics.
He composed his first ghazal at the tender age of eleven and his major works include Jhankar (1943), his reputation grew with Aakhri Shab (1947), and then Aawara Sajde (1973), followed by Meri Aawaz Suno (1974). Besides these, there is the collection of lyrics, which he wrote for Bollywood. He was president of Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA). Kaifi was honoured with a number of national and international awards for his invaluable contributions to Indian culture.
Kaifi Azmi was born as Athar Hussain Rizvi in a landlord family of Mazwan village in Azamgarh, north India. Young Athar saw the cruel oppression of peasantry in his own village, making him a life-long enemy of the Zamindari system. There may be no better tribute to offer than to quote Kaifi’s immortal lines that give an insight into his life’s mission, as follows:
Kar chale ham fida jaan-o-tan saathiyo
Ab tumhare hawale watan saathiyo
(Consecrating our lives to our land, we leave (for war) our land is now in your care, friends….)