(MENAFN - Arab News) The lyrical qualities of Urdu were in full evidence at the annual mushaira organized by the Indian Consulate in Jeddah on Thursday.
The presence of legendary Urdu poet 89-year-old Anand Mohan Zutshi popularly known as Gulzar Dehlawi gave the evening a ring of literary halo.
There were 13 poets from India to entertain a capacity crowd of Urdu lovers at the hot and humid International Indian School-Jeddah. With the exceptions of Gulzar Naseem Nikhat and Tahir Faraz the other poets were relatively unknown to the Jeddah audience.
They were a surprise package and some of the less well-known ones succeeded in stealing or rather 'looting' the show with their couplets theatrics histrionics and crooning.
Among the newcomers Ashfaq Asfi from Telangana Nishtar Amrohvi from Uttar Pradesh Shahbaz Nadeem Ziai from Delhi and Nadeem Shad from Deoband drew big applause.
The real stars were Moin Shadab a popular television anchor from Delhi and Azm Shakiri from Eta Uttar Pradesh. The couplets by Shadab were particularly refreshing because he included a great degree of novelty in his themes. Through his couplets he highlighted real-life challenges and ironies rather than the traditional focus on romance.
Urdu poetry especially its popular genre ghazal generally revolves around a conversation between two lovers the pangs and pathos of love and the longings of the lovers. However since poets are part of society and since they do not exist in a vacuum they have been affected by what is happening around them.
The crumbling of family structure social life and the lack of respect for elders wars and politics have left the poets battered and bruised. Naturally this has begun to reflect in their poetry.
Two very different poets Naseem Nikhat and Azm Shakiri delivered two fine couplets about the importance of elderly parents. Both couplets received massive appreciation because of their truthfulness and universality.
'Ped jab jawan honge phal milenge auron ko/ Waaldain ki qismat sirf baaghbani hai.' Using the tree as a symbol Nikhat says when a seedling grows into a big tree its fruits will be eaten by someone else because the destiny of the parents is only to nurture the plant.
Shakiri also used the symbol of tree to convey something similar and profound. 'Aandhion se bacha kar rakho apne aangan ka boodha shajar/ Ye shajar hi agar gir gaya phir kahani sunayega kaun.' He says that the old tree in the family courtyard should be protected at all costs in the face of raging storms. Why Because if that tree falls who will narrate the fascinating story of the family's lives Iteft many in the audience teary-eyed.
Gulzar was at the top of his usual excellent form. He betrayed no signs of his advancing age and delivered his couplets and speech with such force and firmness that it drew instant applause. His classically chaste Urdu cast a spell on the audience especially when he raised the banner of the language.
He decried all efforts to belittle what he said is a glorious language. 'Urdu is a language of love plurality inclusiveness. It can never be divided it should never be divided' he said.
Gulzar conveyed in four lines the greatness and universality of Urdu: 'Aayeen to hum roz badal sakte hain/Akhlaaq men tarmeem nahi ho sakti// Hum roz naye mulk bana sakte hain/ Tehzeeb ki taqseem nahi ho sakti.'
His love couplets were particularly enjoyed. They brought down the auditorium with laughter clapping and very vocal appreciation.
There was one poet Nishtar Amrohvi who deserves special mention. His humorous couplets were rib-tickling.
'Aaine ke saamne ghanton ki taiyyari ke baad/Tum haseen lagti ho begum kitni dushwari ke baad.'
His take on the deep-rooted prevalence of corruption in society will remain with the audience for a long time to come. 'Gaamzan ham hain corruption me tarraqqi ki taraf/Cheen ki Roos ki Japan ki aisi taisi// Aik beti ke siwa kuch na diya susre ne/Ye hai saamaan to saamaan ki aisi taisi//Chand sikkon ke evaz bech diya jisne watan/Aise Hindu ki Musalmaan ki aisi taisi.'
Amrohvi was hugely applauded and he delivered his couplet with remarkable ease and poise.
The one drawback of the evening was the anchor. Wasif Farooqui from Lucknow is a brilliant poet and he proved that with his wonderful couplets but his anchoring was shoddy at best and mediocre at worst. He seemed unable to connect with his audience and as a result there was a constant gap between him and the listeners.
Perhaps Moin Shadab who is known for his excellent interviews on Sahara Urdu TV and who seemed more confident and striking would have been a better choice.
Earlier Consul General B.S. Mubarak was pleased with the large turnout and most important the overwhelming support from the corporate houses for the event. 'The proceeds from the mushaira are used for the welfare of Indian pilgrims and this is a very noble task' he said in Urdu.
Being a Tamil his speaking Urdu endeared him to his fellow Indians and he was encouraged by their punctuating his speech with clapping at frequent intervals.
The architect of the mushaira was Press Consul Irshad Ahmad. It was he who introduced the poets to the audience right at the beginning.