January 14, 2020 marks the 101st birth anniversary of poet and social activist Kaifi Azmi. Google Doodles has paid tribute to the legend who was one of the pioneers to bring Urdu poetry to mainstream Hindi films.
Azmi is known for his passionate love poems and activist verses, often used as Bollywood songs. Kaifi Azmi is the father of veteran actress Shabana Azmi and cinematographer Baba Azmi.
Azmi was born as Syed Athar Hussain Rizvi in Azmargh, Uttar Pradesh in 1919. He composed his first poem, a ghazal-style piece, at the age of 11. Azmi was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s Quit India Movement of 1942 and moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) to write for an Urdu Newspaper. A year later, he published his first collection of poems called Jhankar, and also became a member of the influential Progressive Writers’ Association that used writing to try to achieve socio-economic reforms.
Azmi's prolific career involved numerous awards for his poems and lyrics. These include three Filmfare awards for Garam Hawa in 1973, Padma Shri Award for Literature and Education in 1974, and India’s highest literary honors — Sahitya Akademi Fellowship in 2002. Azmi is also known for his work in Heer Ranjha, Kaagaz Ke Phool, etc.
One of Azmi’s most popular poems is Aurat, which advocates for women’s equality. He also started the NGO Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS) to support various educational initiatives to improve the lives of rural women and families. MWS continues its work in the spirit of its founder.
Azmi died on May 10, 2002. Here are some of his most celebrated songs used in Bollywood films.
“Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam
Tum Rahe Na Tum, Hum Rahe Na Hum”
- Kaagaz ke Phool (1959)
“Ya dil ki suno duniyaawaalon
Yaa mujh ko abhi chup rahne do
Main gham ko khushi kaise kah doon
Jo kahate hain unko kahne do”
- Anupama (1966)
“Kar chale hum fida jaan-o-tann sathiyon
Ab tumhare hawale watan sathiyon”
- Haqeeqat (1964)
“Yeh duniya, yeh mehfil
Mere kaam ki nahi”
- Heer Raanjha (1970)
“Chalte-chalte yunhi koi mil gaya tha
Sare raah chalte chalte
Vahee thamke reh gayee hai
Meri raat dhalte dhalte”
- Pakeezah (1972)
“Tum jo mil gaye ho, to ye lagataa hain
Ke jahaan mil gayaa
Yek bhatake huye raahee ko, kaarawaan mil gayaa”
- Hanste Zakhm (1973)
“Jhuki jhuki si nazar beqarar hai ke nahi
Daba daba sa sahi dil me pyaar hai ke nahi”
- Arth (1982)