By Kulsum Mustafa
Urdu poet of international fame, Khushbir Singh Shaad turned 67 today, 4th September 2021. It is a big day for his family, wide circle of friends, and fans across the globe. Age say the wise, is just a number, true, but it sure carries within It folds the indelible memories- some bitter, some sweet, and some simply unforgettable. Therefore for Khushbir this birthday is even more nostalgic. This month and year add up to the completion of full ten years, a decade of his Hijrat (migration) from Lucknow, the city which gave him his identity and which thrives, nurtured with love, within his soul. The poet left Lucknow with a heavy heart, as fate and a media friend played foul.
Presently residing in Jalandhar, Punjab with his family, the poet opened his heart out and spoke for the first time so openly about the incident that proved to be the turning point in his life.
Much in demand at mushairas Khushbir has traveled the world on the sole strength of his poetry describes his sojourn in his poetic style Nuksaan uthaya magar ruswa na hogay
His heart still beats for Lucknow the only solace being that he has literally left his heart here, as his only daughter is married and settled in Lucknow. This much felicitated, Yash Bharti Awardee (2014), whose first book titled Jaane Kab Yeh Mausam Badle was released in 2001 and since then he has written 15 books of his poetry, two have Mphils awarded on them.. These publications are available both in Urdu as well as Devanagari script.
In this week’s Weekend Rendezvous the poet of great sensibilities talks with reverence of his ‘Ustaad’ late Wali Aasi who passed away in 2004. It was he who helped him hone his poetic skill, goaded him to learn Urdu script and ‘and showed him to always believe in himself come what may.
As an introduction to this week’s personality piece, I will borrow one of Khushbir’s couplets which I feel describes him so aptly.
Kyun apni tarah jeeney ka andaz chhorh dein
-kya hai hamarey paas is andaz kay siwa.
Hope you will enjoy reading this interview as much as I have enjoyed weaving it together to present as a ‘gift”. All I can say in greetings and reassurance is that “Lucknow bhi aap ko bhoola nahi hain.’ Happy birthday, here is wishing more power to your pen.
Q: Let us begin right at the beginning, your childhood.
A: Oh it was a happy childhood and there was a lot of bonhomie as we are five siblings. My father was a civil engineer and so the family traveled with him to different cities across India before we finally settled down in Lucknow, in 1961, I was seven years then.
Q: How did you develop an interest in Urdu poetry?
A: It seems God-gifted as no one from my family had even the remotest connection with Urdu Shayari. One generation migrants, my family, both paternal and maternal all took to business or joined government service.
It was the cultural ethos of Lucknow, that lead me to read writers like Sadat Ali Manto, Krishan Chander , Amrita Pritam, etc. I was a huge fan of Sahir Ludyanavi and started buying those poetry pocketbooks for one rupee sold on the pavements. The ghazals and nazams became a part of my childhood. Later I also sneaked into some mushairas, being organized in Lucknow for the public.
Q: How did you turn to composing Urdu poetry.?
A:You can say meri tarbiyat kitaboo ney ki. I was also groomed when I started joining the literary sittings which were held daily at the little book shop of Wali Aasi sahib. Well-known names of Urdu adaab like Bashir Badr, Rahat Indoori, Irfan Siddiqui frequented this shop and spent time discussing language and poetry.
I had been writing poetry in devanagri script at a very early age but I had kept it a secret as I lacked confidence and was hesitant to present it before these poets of great eminence. But once I showed my diary to Waali Aasi sahib and was so happy that he appreciated my poetry.. This boosted my self- confidence and I started writing more regularly and getting his ‘islaah’ (critical appreciation) on what I wrote.
Q: Tell us about your foray in writing in Urdu Script.
A: It was again my Ustaad who suggested that if I was writing shayiri I must learn must know te Urdu script. So at the age of 40, I started learning Urdu and my first book of poetry, Jaane Kab Yeh Mausam Badle hit the stand.
Q: Was shayiri your sole livelihood?
A: Absolutely no. Mainey shairi ko kabhi dhandha nahi banaya aur saach to yeh hain ki shairi ki mohabaat may mainey apna dhanda chaupat kar liya.
I was in the family business of publishing and ran a printing press, but I confess that due to my love for shayiri main business sey ghaafil ho gaya. In 1993 my father died and after that, it was just a matter of time when my business started to nosedive.
But it was not the loss in business that disturbed me but did not deter but something that happened around that time. Film-maker Mahesh Bhatt was in Lucknow and at one function he heard the compare recite my couplets. He called me and said that his daughter will call me to ensure that they use his lyrics. Before I knew I got a call from Pooja who said she will be sending me a cheque for my ghazal as signing amount. The next day in front of the entire UP media Bhatt sahib announced that I will be writing lyrics for his six forthcoming films. My song was used in Dhoka made by Mr. Bhatt what happened after this is what resulted in my hijrat from Lucknow.
Q: Tell us what happened next
A: Well a female journalist from Lucknow’s leading English paper often called me up for leads on cultural stories. I had mentioned to her in a casual manner that the music composition done for my shaiyri was not very good. The next morning the newspaper lead story showed both Pooja and my photo side by side read with a bold caption on top – Dhoka diya rey,(You cheated me) The same morning the article was on Mahesh Bhatt table’s table in Mumbai, courtesy of another friend in the media.
The article created a storm. Need I say more. My dream career in Bollywood ended that day, at least as far as the Bhatts were concerned. Maheshji just closed all communication with me and never allowed me even to offer an explanation.
Q: How did it lead to your leaving Lucknow.?
A: The incident literally shook me I saw myself at a dead end as far as film writing was concerned. It was too late to salvage my business. When my sisters invited me to shift to come to Jallandhar and join their business I just jumped at the offer. I think I wanted to just get away, from whatever was familiar to me. It hurt me, it reminded of betrayal, of being stabbed in the back. My wound was too raw, I needed to rest and let them heal. I left Lucknow in 2011after wrapping up everything.
Q: After a decade has the wounds healed.?
A: Honestly no, but I have learned to live with them. My well-wishers often tell me that my poetry has blossomed in the last 10 years, maybe but they really do not know what all has died in me during this period. I had almost uprooted myself and to start blooming in an alien land is not easy. It has been years of yearning, pain, and trauma, but I have survived and that to gracefully, God is kind.
Q: What are your emotions for those responsible for your pain.?
A: I will recite a couplet here to express myself
Hum apney dard ki shiddat ko kam nahin kartey-Zara si baat pe ankhon ko nam nahin kartey .
And for those who cannot measure my pain, I will just say
किर्चों को मुट्ठियों में ज़रा देर भींच लो –फिर उसके बाद पूछना कैसे जिया हूँ मैं
Q: Who helped you to surmount and adjust and grow shoots.?
A: My family, especially my wife who supported me totally. Also, I feel that to live well is the greatest revenge, I am doing that, and believe me I am at peace with myself and my surroundings.
The interview ended here on an optimistic note. I leave my readers with some choicest poetic gems of Khushbir Shaad that will touch your heart and stir your thoughts.
- Khaufzada hooN dekh ke ko manzar dekha-Sochta hooN ab kyuN apney andar dekha
- Phir us ke baad Tay hoga kahan tak sath Chalna ha-zara maloom to Ho jaye in rishton ki had mujh ko
- Usey bhi apney liye koi pal mayassar ho-KHUDA ko chhorh do tanha kabhi “Khuda ka liye
- Tum to aksar kar ke inayat bhool Gaye-lekin mujh ko ik ik sadma yaad raha.
- Ab andheron mein jo hum khaufzada baithe hain Kya kahein khud hi chiraaghon ko bujha baithe hain
- Ek hum hain ke parastish pe aqeeda hi nahin Aur kuchh log yahaan ban ke khuda baithe hain.
- āsāñ nahīñ thā sāzisheñ karnā mire ḳhilāf jab apnī ārzūoñ kā qātil bhī maiñ hī thā
- mujh ko samajh na paa.ī mirī zindagī kabhī āsāniyāñ mujhī se thiiñ mushkil bhī maiñ hī thā
- kabhī uruuj pe thā ḳhud pe e’timād mirā ġhurūb kaise huā hai ye āftāb na pūchh
- ka.ī nā-āshnā chehre hijāboñ se nikal aa.e na.e kirdār maazī kī kitāboñ se nikal aa.e
- ek ham haiñ ki parastish pe aqīda hī nahīñ aur kuchh log yahāñ ban ke ḳhudā baiThe haiñ
- isī ummīd par to kaaT liiñ ye mushkileñ ham ne ab is ke ba.ad to ai ‘shād’ āsānī meñ rahnā hai
- हमें तन्हाई के मौसम की आदत पड़ चुकी है कि इस मौसम में अब तो कितनी रातें कट चुकी हैं
- न जाने भर लूँ मैं कितनी तिजोरियाँ उन से-अगर ये सोचने बैठूँ कि क्या लुटा मेरा
- हम को किस काम में उलझाये हुए है दुनिया-हम तो कुछ और ही करने के लिये आये हैं