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Hostel Legacy: Majaz (Shafey Anwarul Haque)

Quick Sketch 
Name: Asrarul Haque Majaz 
Birth: October 19, 1911 (Rudauli, Bara Banki, U.P.) 
Died: December 05, 1955 (Lalbagh, Lucknow, U.P.) 
Services: Poetry (Revolutionary and Romentic) 
Alma Mater: St. John’s College (Agra), Aligarh Muslim University (Aligarh) 
Major Anthologies: 
Shab-e-taab, Aahang, Saaz-e-Nau 
His nazm Nazre Aligarh was honoured as Tarane-e-Aligarh (University Anthem) by his alma-mater Aligarh Muslim University. 

Majaz received his early education in Lucknow and Agra, and did his B.A. at Aligarh Muslim University. He considered Fani Badayuni as his “Ustad”. He hails from a family of poets and litterateurs. Muztar Khairabadi, one of the great masters of Urdu poetry, was among his ancestors. He has a sister Safiya, who married to Jan Nisar Akhtar, father of Javed Akhtar.

Majaz started writing poems while in Aligarh and soon became a popular among the masses and well respected among the literati. He became one of the front-ranking poets of the Taraqqi Pasand Tahreek (Progressive Writers’ Movement).

Majaz lived and wrote in times which were exceptionally vibrant for poetry; poets such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Fani Badayuni, Jazbi, Makhdoom and Ali Sardar Jafri were among his peers. They were not merely his contemporaries but closest friends. Others such as Josh and Firaq knew him well. His first diwan, Ahang, is dedicated to Faiz and Jazbi whom he calls his “Dil-o-Jigar”,and to Sardar Jafri and Makhdoom, who he considered “Dast-o-Baazu”. Faiz wrote a thoughtful dibacha to Ahang.

Majaz’s flair for writing Urdu poetry became apparent when he befriended two poets, Fani Badayuni and Jazbi. They were his classmates in St. John’s College, Agra in 1929-1931. The years were productive for poetry but everything else for Majaz went awry. He failed his exams badly and acquired bad habits that stayed with him for the rest of his life. Worried about his academic performance, his father got him admission at Aligarh University where he switched from the science stream to arts.

The years at Aligarh were the best, most productive ones for Majaz. Even though he failed at exams, he charmed everyone with his poetry and was made the editor of the prestigious Aligarh [University] Magazine. He composed many of his famous poems there, including the spirited, sparkling, “Nazr-e Aligarh” (composed 1935/36), which was subsequently set to music and has been the tarana or the official song of Aligarh University ever since.

Eventually, he graduated and was offered a position as Assistant Editor of Awaaz, the newly established journal of the All India Radio. The move from Aligarh to Delhi was not as favorable as it should have been. Majaz, who had such a large fan following of young female students at Aligarh, lost his heart to a married woman in Delhi who was his admirer.

Majaz died alone in a tavern located in the Beldari Lane of Lalbagh, on the cold winter night of 5 December 1955 in the heart of the city of Lucknow. He was buried in Nishatgunj graveyard, Lucknow. Elegy reads:

Ab Iskey Baad Subah Hai Aur Subah-e-Nau Majaz, 
Hum Per Hai Khatm Sham-e-Gariban-e-Lucknow 

One of his famous poems Ae Gham-e-Dil Kia Karoon, Ae Wahshat-e-Dil Kia Karoon was sung by singer Talat Mehmood for a film. This was one of the very early attempts to bring literary poems to film industry. Jagjit Singh the famous ghazal singer has sung a number of his ghazals in a very popular television series named Kehkashan directed by Majaz's friend Ali Sardar Jafri. The series was based on life of Majaz. Postage-stamp released by Indian Postal Services on 28 March 2008

In memory of the legendary Urdu poet Asrarul Haq Majaaz (1913–54) a Book Launch : Majaz Aur Uski Shaayeri edited by Salman Akhtar was held in collaboration with The Nehru Centre, London and AMU Alumni Association (UK).

Ali Sardar Jafri captured his biography in a serial named Kehkashan aired on Doordarshan National (DD-1) Channel. 

*Shafey Anwarul Haque is pursuing Masters in Mass Communication and Journalism at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh.
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