Kaifi Azmi – his life of fulfillment

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Kaifi Azmi

Kaifi Aazmi was a well-known Hindi and Urdu author, and Hindi lyricist. He was born in a Mejwan family of landowners, Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, on 14 January 1919. During the Quit India agitations in 1942, Aazmi abandoned his studies of Persian and Urdu, and soon afterward became a full-time Marxist. During this period, Azmi started to win great acclaim as a poet and became a member of the Progressive Writers’ Movement of India.

He later went to Bombay, joining Ali Sardar Jafri in writing for Qaumi Jung, the party’s paper. He visited Hyderabad in 1947 to join in a mushaira. He met there and fell in love, marrying a woman named Shaukat Azmi. She later became a renowned actress in theatre and films. Azmi’s first collection of poems, Jhankar was published in 1943. He will also be known for Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Haqeeqat (1964), Heer Raanjha (1970) as a lyricist and songwriter while he has written for various films.

Azmi died on May 10, 2002. He was the recipient of Padma Shri, one of the Indian Government’s highest civilian awards. He has received the Uttar Pradesh Urdu Academy Award, the Maharashtra Urdu Academy Award, the Delhi Urdu Academy Award as well. He has also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Vishva Bharati. He died in the year 2002.

Kaifi Azmi in News

Google celebrated the 101st birth anniversary of India’s famous poet, lyricist, and activist Kaifi Azmi on January 14, 2020. Google has prepared a special doodle on his 101st birth anniversary. Kaifi Azmi was one of the most famous poets of the 20th century. He only wrote his first poem at age 11. At that time, Kaifi Azmi was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s Quit India Movement.

Kaifi Azmi’s Google Doodle

Kaifi Azmi’s Google Doodle

Kaifi Azmi’s Doodle has been prepared as a tribute to the legendary poet. Google writes in today’s doodle that Kaifi Azmi was an Indian poet, social change advocate, and a songwriter. He became one of the most renowned poets of his time. He also made various humanitarian efforts to impact people’s lives.

About Kaifi Azmi

•  He was born on January 14, 1919, in Mizwan village of Azamgarh. His real name was Akhtar Hussain Rizvi.

•  Kaifi Azmi was fond of writing poems since childhood. He started taking part in poetry reciting events during his teenage.

•  Kaifi Azmi later moved to Mumbai to write in an Urdu newspaper.

•  His first collection of poems ‘Jhankar’ was published in 1943. 

•  Kaifi Azmi later became a member of the Progressive Writers’ Association who used to write to bring socio-economic reforms.

•  Kaifi Azmi is the father of Bollywood’s famous actress Shabana Azmi.

Awards and Honours

Kaifi Azmi was honored many awards for his works. He won three Filmfare Awards, the prestigious Padma Shri Award for Literature and Education, and India’s highest literary honor the Sahitya Academy Fellowship. Kaifi Azmi was honored with National Film Award for Best Lyricist for ‘Saat Hindustani’ (1969).

Kaifi Azmi family

Kaifi Azmi family

Kaifi Azmi (Urdu: کیفی اعظمی‎; January 1919 – May 10, 2002) was an Indian Urdu poet, born as Athar Hussein Rizvi. He is remembered as the one who brought literature from Urdu to Indian motion photographs. He appeared in several unforgettable twentieth-century Mushaira gatherings together with Pirzada Qasim, Jaun Elia, and others.

Kaifi Azmi’s wife Shaukat Kaifi was a homemaker. They had a daughter Shabana Azmi who is a well known Indian film and television actress and a son Baba Azmi who is a cinematographer in the Indian film industry. His son Baba Azmi is married to a known face in the film and television industry Tanvi Azmi. 

Shaukat Kaifi

Shaukat Kaifi

Shaukat Azmi, or Shaukat Kaifi as she referred to herself, was a stage and movie talent, a voice artist for All India Radio, the wife of Progressive poet, and lyricist Kaifi Azmi, and the mother of actor Shabana Azmi and cinematographer Baba Azmi. She was born in 1928 in Hyderabad and died in Mumbai on Friday at the age of 91.

Shaukat Aapa, as she was lovingly called, along with her husband, Urdu poet and film lyricist, Kaifi Azmi, had been the leading light of the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) and the Progressive Writers Association, the cultural wings of the Communist Party of India.

In the world of films one of her early major appearances was in M.S. Sathyu’s Garm Hava (1974), the most compelling human exploration of the aftermath of Partition, the havoc it wreaked and the frustrations it bred in the Muslim families that decided to stay on this side of the border. Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan (1981) and Sagar Sarhadi’s Bazaar (1982) have been the other notable performances.

Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi is one of India’s most successful actors today, straddling theatre and films with finesse and grace. Yet to her there is so much more that we see on television. Shabana Azmi is a reckonable power, on and off the frame.

Shabana Azmi is the only actor to win a five-time National Best Actor Award. She won it in 1974 for its first release, Ankur. For three consecutive years, from 1983 to 1985, she went on to win the National Award for her notable work in the films Arth, Khandhar, and Paar. Her role in the 1996 film Fire, at the 32nd Chicago Film Festival and Jury Award for Best Actress at Outfest, Los Angeles, won her the Silver Hugo Award for Best Actress.

She was a graduate in psychology from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, before her acting stint. She watched Jaya Bhaduri in a film and was so enthralled by the actor’s performance that she decided to enroll herself in the Film and Television Institute of India (FTTI), Pune. She topped the list of successful candidates of 1972.

Shabana came across Javed Akhtar when he supported her aunt. Javed was a guy married to two girls who fell in love with him. Shabana ‘s relationship with Javed generated indignation, and her decision to marry him. Here was a woman who was happy to wed a man already married. Shabana protected her love amid the problems, and they got married after his engagement to Honey Irani ended in divorce in 1984.

Shaukat & Kaifi Azmi’s Love Story as Narrated by Shabana Azmi

Married to an Urdu poet, Kaifi Azmi, Shaukat Kaifi’s love story was nothing less than a Hindi film romance.

The two met in February 1947 in Hyderabad during a Progressive Writers Conference, which was followed by a mushaira. “He came and recited his poem which was already very well known, which was ‘Aurat’ and she was mesmerized by it. She felt that someone who speaks in such a progressive voice about women is going to be the man I’m going to marry,” said Shabana Azmi.

“She looked at Abba and she saw that he was surrounded by girls, so she just gave him a look and went to Sardar Jafri and got an autograph from him. Kaifi watched her doing this.”

However, she returned once the crowd dispersed and asked Kaifi Azmi to write something in her autograph book, and to her disappointment, he wrote a very silly limerick. Offended by it, she asked, “Why did you write such a bad sher?”, to which he replied, “Well, why did you go to Sardar Jafri first?”

“Like Hindi films, their romance blossomed. It was more like a Hindi film romance because at that time my mother was engaged to somebody else. So, her family cut off all communication between my father and mother,” said Shabana Azmi. 

To everyone’s shock, Kaifi Azmi sent her a letter in blood, seeing which she ran to her father and said that she’ll either marry this man or no one at all. Her father decided to take her to Mumbai to see the kind of life communists spend in a commune and then she was to decide if she still wanted to marry him.

“Without telling anybody, he brought her to Mumbai, took her to the commune and then asked her if she still wanted to marry him considering that she had been brought up in luxury and he has no money at all. She said, “Even if he was a poor laborer and in order to be married to him, I would have to carry mud on my head, I’d still do that but I’ll only marry him. And so they got married in Mumbai without telling anybody. ,” says Shabana.

Kaifi Azmi’s Works in Bollywood

Kaifi Azmi’s Works in Bollywood

Azmi moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1943 to work as a trade unionist and write for the party’s Urdu papers, including Qaumi Jung (“People’s War”). He also published his first volume of poetry, Jhankar, that year. During this period he became closely associated with the Progressive Writers Association and the Indian Peoples’ Theatre Association, and he even acted in plays with other leftists such as the actor Balraj Sahni (1913–73).

Financial need led Azmi to write the lyrics for some of the songs in Shaheed Latif’s Buzdil (1951; “Coward”). He is best remembered for several classic songs he wrote subsequently, notably “Waqt ne Kiya kya haseen sitam” (Kaagaj Ke Phool, 1959), “Dhire dhire machal” (Anupama, 1966), “Chalte Chalte Yun hi koi” (Pakeezah, 1971), and “Koi ye Kaise bataye” (Arth, 1982).

Azmi’s best-known writing for films is the critically acclaimed Garam Hawa (1974; “Scorching Winds”), directed by M.S. Satyu. That film, based on an unpublished story by Ismat Chughtai and starring Balraj Sahni in what is considered to be one of his best roles, won Azmi awards for the best story (shared with Chughtai), best screenplay (shared with Shama Zaidi), and best dialogue. Azmi himself had a major role in Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s award-winning film Naseem (1995; “Morning Breeze”), a powerful tale of a Muslim family’s fears as they witness the communal frenzy in the days before the demolition in 1992 of Ayodhya’s Babri Masjid (built in the 16th century by the Mughal emperor Babur). His daughter Shabana Azmi was a leading actress of what is called the Indian New Wave, or Parallel Cinema (comprising art films that treat serious issues), at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century.

Kaifi Azmi career and work 

Azmi grew up getting inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s Quit India movement of 1942 and he left for Bombay to write for an Urdu newspaper. His first work was published a year later in the name of “Jhankar” and also he became a very member of the “influential progressive writers” Association. 

This association worked on creating awareness of social reforms. 

“Aurat” is Kaifi Azmi’s early work that talks about women empowerment and equality. 

He also ran an NGO Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS) that works to support welfare and empowerment. Through this NGO, MWS Azmi has supported various educational initiatives to help and improve the lives of rural women.  This society runs schools, Kaifi Azmi higher secondary school for girls, the Kaifi Azmi Inter-college for girls, the Kaifi Azmi computer training center, and the Kaifi Azmi embroidery and Sewing Centre for women. 

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