Down the Memory Lane

20 11 2006

Ajeeb aadmi tha woh
Mohabbaton ka geet tha,
bagaawaton ka rang tha
Kabhi woh sirf phool tha, kabhi woh sirf aag tha
Ajeeb aadmi tha woh

(He was a strange man
He was a song of love who wore the colours of rebellion
Sometimes a flower, sometimes afire
He was a strange man)

– Javed Akhtar’s Ode to Azmi.

Kaifi Aur Main is touring North America. An extremely well-executed ode to Kaifi Azmi. Shabana Azmi reads her mother Shaukat Azmi’s writing (Yaad Ki Raah Guzar – Down the Memory Lane) and Javed Akhtar reads Kaifi’s poetry. And some amazing songs performed by Jaswinder Singh (which makes the show worth it even if you are only familiar with Kaifi’s bollywood lyrics).

You get to know Kaifi, the diehard romantic (who wrote the entire script of the movie Heer-Ranjha in verse), Comrade Kaifi and Kaifi – the little boy from Azamgarh, who wanted to be a poet, whose child-like humor brings chuckles, (for instance, when he describes the song-writing process in films, where the tunes are set and then the poet is asked to fit a poem to the tune, he compares it to digging a grave and then finding a body to fit it, and goes on to say, how his bodies were known to fit just so) :) . And the intense sensitivity and pain, in the poems about his paralysis (where he compares himself to Sita and the lines of fate on his palms to the Lakshman Rekha and how he would rather have Ravana rescue him from the pain, if Ram could not make it).

You also meet Shaukat Azmi, as an innocent young girl whose admiration and adoration for Kaifi turns to love and see their life together through her words.

Commentary on the play, at Sanmathi and more on Kaifi by Bhupinder.

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