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298. Ali Sardar Jafri


 Ali Sardar Jafri (1913-2000) --- Ali Sardar Jafri was born in Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh.  He came to Mumbai in 1942 and made it his home. He firmly believed in the cultural unity of the subcontinent. Arrested for writing against British rule in India, Jafri was among the votaries of the progressive movement in Urdu literature.  Jafri's literary career began at the young age of 17. He has written nine books of verse, two plays, one memoir-reportage, three collections of critical essays and one volume of short stories. With the publication of his very first collection of nazm and ghazal, Parwaz, in 1943, he established himself as a poet to reckon with.

Five years later Nai Duniya Ko Salaam, an unconventional, longish nazm brimming with revolutionary optimism, took the Urdu world by pleasant surprise. Sardar had by then become a familiar and revered name. Among his other poetic works Khoon Ki Lakeer (1949), Ashia Jaag Uttha (1951), Patthar Ki Deewar (1953), Pairahan-e-Sharar (1966), Lahoo Pukarta Hai (1978) and November, Mera Gahwara (1998) are remarkable, both for their theme and style.  Sardar’s early works reflected a restless yearning for India’s independence from the colonial yoke. Equally intense was his yearning for the freedom and dignity of the proletariat. This was because of the strong impact of the Progressive Writers’ Movement inspired by Marxism. With the publication of Pairahan-e-Sharar in 1966, one could see a noticeable shift in Sardar’s poetry, both in terms of its grammar as well as form. In its preface the diehard, uncompromising radical of Patthar Ki Deeawar now declared that his nazms were no longer ‘political documents’. Rather they were a ‘cry of the heart and voice of the soul’. As it has been said, "The Sardar was a rebel, freedom fighter, pacifist, radical activist, story writer, critic and documentary filmmaker at once. But, above all, he was a poet endowed with exquisite imagination, one of the brightest stars on the firmament of 20th century Urdu poetry. Like all great poets he was a prophet engaged in unravelling the mysteries and ambiguity of human drama. The principal theme of his poetry was compassion, love, perseverance and sensitivity surviving amidst the callous inhumanity of our times. In his unique style, he depicted the exemplary survival of the human spirit in face of all-pervasive adversity and defeatism. In so doing he not only carried forward the traditions of Urdu poetry but enriched its treasure with new symbols and powerful imagery. Indeed, his poetry gradually evolved into a genre of its own kind whose influence is difficult to ignore among the present generation of Urdu poets."  He was awarded the Iqbal Gold Medal by the Pakistan government in 1978.  In India, he was awarded the prestigious Jnanpith Puraskar in 1998. His memorable work, Ek Khwab Aur, received the Sahitya Akademi award. He received the Jnanpith Award for the year 1997.

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