Lively Hearts of Hyderabad

Lively Hearts  of Hyderabad

Lively Hearts of Hyderabad. The simple, entertaining yet thought provoking comment on society and the life of a common man is the typical Deccani humour poetry that has been unique to Hyderabad and the surrounding areas of the Deccan plateau.

Election may aarain pilaana banarain Pilaana banaako fasaada kararain Fasada karaako commitiyaan bitharain Commitiyaan banaako dilon ko milarain Margaye so murdon ke karain ilajaan Ji naani maa kya hai ki kya naiki (Punning on the popular phrase used in Deccani – Kya hai ki kya naiki – the popular Deccani humour poet Himayatullah comments on politicians contesting elections, planning to create riots and then following the riots are the committees. And they treat the dead bodies. He further laments on the state of India where there are fights over smallest of issues, on languages, on regions, on how the hearts break and the blood gets cheaper even as food becomes expensive)

Aray meri Bharat ke din kaisa bigray Zari zari baton pe din raat jhagrey Zabanon pe jhagrey, ilaaqon pe jhagrey Dilon ke bhi tukray, mulak ke bhi tukray
Sasta lahu hai to mehengay anaajaan Ji naani maa kya hai ki kya naiki.
The simple, entertaining yet thought provoking comment on society and the life of a common man is the typical Deccani humour poetry that has been unique to Hyderabad and the surrounding areas of the Deccan plateau. Several erstwhile poets like Nazeem Daikhani, Miyan Shukoor Beig, Sarvar Danda, Ali Saheb Miyan, Sulaiman Qateeb, Gilli Nalgondvi have brought name and fame to this genre of poetry across the world followed by the likes of Himayatullah who is a bridge between the old and the new generation of Deccani poets.
The poetry that has helped the masses to stay united and reconcile with the changes and build confidence to live and make a sense out of their lives during troubled times of 1948; the poetry that has helped a Hyderabadi laugh in the face of poverty and struggle during the post independence era and that continues to warm the hearts and bring the much needed smile in today’s stress filled life; is somehow losing its sheen and quality. The advent of television, reduced patrons of Urdu and vulgarity that has creeped into humour in particular, have played a part in this demise. However the inherent spirit of Hyderabadi has not died, retaining the sparkle of humour in the most unexpected of people.
Be it a taxi driver humouring the security guard, as the latter is seriously checking his car – ‘Abhi Ultha karke dekhnaich bakihai miyan” or the barber giving his political gyan – “Yeh sab leaderaun bekar hai, Inkutho Soniya beauty parlour bhej ke make up karaake logaun ke saamne naachne ku khada karegi” – a Hyderabadi does not need education nor a great taste for literature to dole out pearls of humour and wisdom at the drop of the hat. Many old timers will remember the radio star of Deccan, the famous Babban Khan of the longest running one-man show ‘Adrak ke Panje’ and the jingle with children’s voice shouting - PAPA AAGAYE PAPA AAGAYE – Arrechupp, kaiku chillarain. Dafthar se aaroon, kya jail se aaroon - retorts Babban.
Noted Urdu writer, Padmashri awardee and President of the literary organisation Zinda Dilan-e- Hyderabad, Mujtaba Hussain relates one of the many instances that he has experienced in the day-to-day life of Hyderabad interlaced with satire and humour - It was one summer afternoon; I had come from New Delhi and was looking out for a rickshaw (the old pedal rickshaws that were common in Hyderabad). There was this one fellow who was relaxing on his rickshaw under shade. I went up to him. “Rickshaw Chaloge?” “Hau Chalenge Isliye tho yahan pe tehere,” he asked half heartedly, “Kidhar jaana?” I said, “Charminar!” “Hum tho Charminar dekhliye; aapko jana hai tho jaake dekhlo” – he went back to his relaxing posture.
“I was probably in my 30s we used to frequent two rival hotels, Tafrrih-e-Deccan and Mumtaz hotel. One day the bearer at Mumtaz hotel served me tea and just then a fly landed in my cup. In mock anger I asked him about it and the quality of tea that he served. He didn’t say sorry, instead promptly picked the fly, looked at it closely and declared, “Yeh makhi tho hamari nai hothi saab, yeh pakka Tafrrih-e-Deccan se aayi! Humour is inbuilt in the city. Hyderabadi laughs a lot and can laugh at himself. But this humour is simple, innocent and harmless,” he adds.
Famous actor Late Farooq sheikh had the first-hand experience of Hyderabad-brand humour when he was in the city shooting for his 1982 film “Baazar” along with Naseeruddin Shah. Both were travelling by yet another true blue-blooded Hyderabadi transport – auto - enjoying the sights and sounds. They stopped at the red signal and there was a man on his scooter standing behind the auto, continuously blowing the horn. The auto driver indignantly turned and shouted back - ‘Kaiku miyan, zyada bajaye tho light badal jaati kyaa’. The instant humour was so heartening that Farooq Sheikh took great pleasure in relating the story 30 years later during his visit to the city.
No wonder that the in-built humour percolated into poetry of the region, especially the Dakhni (Deccani) poetry. Just like Urdu is Hindi influenced by Persian and Arabic; Deccani is Urdu that has a heavy influence of Konkani, Marathi, Telugu and Kannada and was the language of Princely States of Hyderabad State from the time of the Bahmani Sultans of the 14th century until Aurangazeb’s entry into the region in the 17th century. In fact the first poetry in Urdu was written in Deccani.
However with the entry of the Mughals, Urdu language became the language of the elite and literature and Deccani was confined to homes where it continued unabated. It wasn’t until the founding of Osmania University that the language again was brought to forefront. The students met, there were mushairas and cultural meets where Deccani was being used to converse and also to recite poetry. Harmless banter amongst the students gradually developed into humour-laced poetry which began to be enjoyed by all. Amongst these early poets was Maqdoom Mohiuddin who started his career as a writer of satire and later went on to write serious poetry. Deccani poetry in all its forms was again seeing the light of the day.
1948 and the years after were dark period for Urdu language. “It was a period of uncertainty, depression and poverty and Urdu was taken out of offices, education and Osmania University. Muslims of the region were treated as if they were anti-independence, as if they were the Nizam and ironically Nizam was made the Rajpramukh. It was the communist party that was responsible majorly to normalise the social and cultural atomosphere at the time and made people reconcile to the situation. Maqdoom who was from the party once said - Hum ne hans hans ke teri bazm mein aaye paiker-e-naaz; kitne aahon ko chupaya hai tujhe kya maaloom (We came to you my love with a smile; would you know that we also hide within us that many sighs),” shared the founder of Urdu humour magazine ‘Shagufa’.
Deccani poets of the 50s and 60s laced their poetry with social commentary and this was especially so when humour was used to deride a government decision, law, political situation and the general state of affairs of the middle class.
The advent of Deccani humour poetry can be traced to the formation of the Fine Arts Academy in 1953 that also had a literary wing. Iqbal Qureshi, the film music director. Poet Aziz Qaisi, Deccani poet Himayatullah were all members as youngsters. Noted humour writer Bharat Chand Khanna (Mujtaba Hussain had written an article on him ‘Aakhri Sharif Aadmi’), a senior IAS officer was the founder President of the literary wing that was named ‘Zinda Dilan-e-Hyderabad’-Lively Hearts. Until 1965, this organisation used to conduct state level mushairas, especially of Deccani poetry and humour was always a hit. Maqdoom and Kishan Chander were big names. In 1966 Mujtaba Hussain, who was a journalist and later a columnist for Siasat Urdu Newspaper (currently the President of Zinda Dilan-e-Hyderabad), proposed the All India Urdu Humour Writers Conference that turned out to be a big gathering at Exhibition Grounds, Nampally.
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