Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mirza Ghalib the ultimate fighter

When i was a kid there used to be a program/ serial on Doordarshan (India's national and only television channel of that time) called Mirza Ghalib. At that time this was one program which i couldn't stand. There was nothing in this program which could attract me as a kid. There used to be a guy with big beard, wearing some clothes which were better suited for ladies and singing some songs which has amazingly boring music. So all in all nothing which could attract a kid.

A few weeks back i got the chance to view this series again. This time i am 27 and i have some interest in literature, specially biographies. So i watched this series and was amazed by the life of Mirza Ghalib. He was married at a pretty young age (12 i guess) and he started writing poems (Shers as we call them in Hindi) at 13 or so. And his writings were high quality at that time. Later in his life Ghalib went through too many issues because of his attitude which IMHO was not a bad attitude. He knew he was the best and worst problem was that no one really understood his writings because of the fact that they were too good for everyone. Once he was invited by the emperor to read some poems in a Mushayra and he narrated one of his best poems. After reading the first 2 lines of poem he was really pissed off as no one actually gave him any appreciation. (Its a custom of mushayra's that you appreciate and encourage a poet almost after every line he reads). Ghalib walked out, without caring about the fact that emperor and other dignitaries will feel violated by this and his career might be at stake.

This and due to other incidents like this erased Ghalib out of the good books from high profile dignitaries. This ensured that Ghalib won't get any pension and hence will not any source of income for the most part of his life. On top of this Ghalib indulged into drinking and gambling which was illegal during that time. This ensured that he lived a poor life and couldn't arrange enough money at any point in time of his life.

Because of all this issues Ghalib could never save his literary work for future generations and all the dignitaries of that time ensured that he doesn't. The emperor appreciated Ghalib in private however in public he could never gather enough courage to actually help or support Ghalib's work.

Ghalib had 2 loyal servants and a caring wife which was his support system all through his life and my guess is that this support system actually ensured that his literary genius was alive in spite of the adversaries he faced in his life.

There's a department in one of the universities (Its University of Agra or Lucknow. I can't remember correctly :( ) in India which is working to find as much as possible and is sharing it with the world.

The whole series is directed by Gulzar (One of the best poets we have today in India) and he has famously said. Ghalib had 2 servants and i am the 3rd one.

Long live Ghalib's poems and his name.


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