Remembering Nida Fazli, a symbol of national integration

Chaman Lal Chaman pays tribute to a fine poet, a patriot and a humanitarian.

Nida Fazli, a well known Urdu and Hindi poet and a noted Bollywood lyricist, died of a heart attack in Mumbai on February 8 this year, an event which coincided with the birth anniversary of the late Ghazal king Jagjit Singh.
The pair had teamed up to give us Insight, an album of refreshing geet, ghazals and dohe—different forms of Indian poetry—in 1994. The last time Fazli and Singh got together was in Mumbai on the final day of February 2010, to mark the conclusion of a highly successful seminar against extremism and terrorism. Nida introduced Jagjit with the opening line from Jagjit’s newly composed ghazal, to which Nida had written the words: ‘Koi Hindu, Koi Muslim, Koi Eisaee Hai, Sab Ne Insaan Na Hone Ki Qasam Khai Hai’—‘The people have chosen to be Hindu, Muslim or Christian, having vowed not to be human beings’.
Jagjit’s treatment of Nida’s lyrics was so touching that each stanza elicited an instant round of applause by the audience. Throughout the concert, Nida sat beside Jagjit, interjecting with an appropriate couplet or two after each item.
In 2012 Nida was invited to read poetry in the UK. He was accompanied by Shobhit Desai, an accomplished compere with a comprehensive knowledge of Indian music and poetry. Baroness Shreela Flather had invited the duo to the House of Lords for an evening of poetry reading along with some local poets. I had opportunity to meet him again at a friend’s house in London, where Nida treated us to a reading of some of his unpublished works.
Born in Delhi on October 12 1938 to a Kashmiri family and initially named Muqtida Hassan, Nida Fazli grew up in Gwalior. His parents later migrated to Pakistan but he decided to stay in India.
Nida was much inspired by the devotional poetry of Meera and Kabir. He moved to Mumbai in 1964 and started writing for Dharmyug, a reputed Hindi weekly, and Blitz, known for its outspoken leftist views. Nida disagreed with the partition of India and wrote against communal riots and fundamentalism. He wrote around two dozen books, some of which were included as school texts in Maharashtra.
He was honoured with the National Harmony Award for his writing on communal harmony. He also won the Sahitya Academy Award and Pdamshri, as well as various accolades for his lyrics in films and TV serials. He was an ardent reader of Latin American, East Asian, European and African poetry.
Nida Fazli will live on in the hearts of poetry lovers through his numerous film compositions and ghazals, due to the simplicity of his language, which blurred the line between Hindi and Urdu. According to actor Raza Murad, ‘Nida was a symbol of national integration.’

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