Wednesday, March 9, 2016


  ( Left to right  Akhtar ul Imaan , daughter Shehla , another daughter , wife Sultana and son in law actor Amjad Khan husband of Shehla )

                                                            ( Akhtar ul Imaan )



 In an Interview  Akhtar ul Imaan once said :

  My ancestors were   Surajvanshi  Rajputs from Raokhedi  . It was sometime  during  1857 that our ancestor Ram Singh embraced Islam .  "

He did not bring his poetry to films and never  his scripts and stories to his poetry. For him poetry remained an art while story and dialogue writing  for films a profession. He   wrote scripts/ dialogues  for  films like Do Badan, Mera Saaya ,  Daag ( 1973 ), Phool Aur Pathar  ( 1966 ) , Waqt ( 1965 )  Dharamputra ( 1961 ) . Gumraah  ( 1963 ), Roti ( 1974 ), Pathar Ke Sanam  ( 1967 ) and many more movies that proved  quite successful at the box office.

 “Chinoy Seth, jinke ghar sheeshe ke hon woh doosron par patthar nahin phenka karte”

 (Chinoy Seth, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at  others )

This signature dialogue picturised on actor  Raj Kumar was written By Akhtar ul Imaan  for Waqt , a film that broke all previous records at the box office.

He was well educated ( post graduate ) and had  profound knowledge of world literature . His life took many turns .  As child , he lived in an orphanage  but never abandoned his education .Akhtar ul Imaan started his  film career from Shalimar Studio, Pune ( owned by W Z Ahmed ) as story writer on a monthly salary of Rs150/= in 1947.   And in June 1947  , the studio was closed due to partition  riots and he had to move to Bombay. He had already performed  Nikah ceremony with  Sultana who belonged to a well off   family from Delhi. Krishen Chander , Ramanand Sagar  and Bharat Vyas also moved to Bombay after  June 1947.He took up a residence at Turner Road .

During  this period , poet Meeraji was roaming in Bombay  like a wretched fellow. Meeraji  shared a room with  Madhusudan ,  a friend of Akhtar ul Imaan   who lived at Kalaghoda, later Meeraji  moved to live with Mohan Sehgal and finally shifted to a stable at Byculla. He was broke and ill. It was Akhtar ul Imaan who stepped in and brought him to his home and engaged him by starting a  monthly magazine  ‘Khayal’ .Meeraji died in 1949. Some work here and there , Akhtar ul Imaan finally moved to  ‘Story Department ‘ of Filmistan while simultaneously writing scripts for Kamal Amrohi , M Sadiq , S M Yusuf and Kabir Ahmed. He wrote Nastik and Anarkali but no credit was given to him. In 1956 , he launched his own film company . This too  did not solve his financial crisis. In 1958 ( he  remained there till 1975 ), he Joined ‘Story Department’ of  B R Films on a monthly salary of rupees twelve hundred  .  It was only after the release of  films like  Kanoon , Mughal e Azam ( he was a co writer ) and Waqt that his luck took  a swift and favourable turn.Offers for dialogue writing and scripts poured in and he started charging good amount for his services . By now he was a father of three daughters  Shehla, Asma  and Rakshanda  and a son Ramish whom he fondly called Guddu. He ensured their good schooling and as father , got deeply attached to them and their welfare.

 The poet suffered major  financial crisis  after he ventured into film making in 1979.With Jaimal Singh as partner, Akhtar ul Iman produced a movie” Lahu Pukaarega” . He wrote the script and also directed it. From the editing room , the negatives were whisked away by Jaimal Singh who released the film on his own . But then radical changes were  allready  sweeping Indian Film Industry post 1970. New faces , new film makers ,newer concepts and new challenges had arrived . New equations were visible in the  film world  .  Film making passed on to people who just wanted to make quick buck . He    spurned many   offers to write Masala scripts that lacked social purpose . He did not go well with Yash Chopra also .

After  “Bikhare Moti”  ,he never ever  wrote a song  for films . When  his friend Giri Lal Jain , Editor , Times of India  requested him to write a song for  his daughter’s wedding , Akhtar ul Iman politely refused .He would always say :-

“ Poetry comes from somewhere deep within . You can not write for an externally created  situation . That is not poetry . It is heartless as it does not move through your heart. ”

After he parted company with B R Chopra , he had only five assignments in 13 years ( from 1975 to 1988  including his own film Lahu Pukaarega ) .He had almost no work  in  films .This was followed by his heart  surgery in 1986. It was his son in law and actor Amjad Khan ( Gabbar Singh of Sholay )  who came to his rescue. He did all arrangements and booked tickets of  Mrs Sultana ( his wife ) Dr Ashok Hitolkar ( his family physician ) and Akhtar  ul Imaan for the  US apart from paying advance amount  to St. Luke’s Hospital ,Texas . He stayed there for about a month and  returned to India with pending bills to the extent of 26000 US dollors. To his son in law , he told  that all bills  had been settled . Again some close friends raised a substantial   amount from BCCI, Hamdard Foundation and  other  charitable institutions of Mumbai. Amjad Khan’s death in 1992 came as a great shock to the poet.


Dr Ashok operated him again for a painful Fistula where after he got his Kidney problems that needed regular dialysis .He also sold his spacious  Bandra flat for 30 lakhs and shifted to a two room small flat on ground floor of Ravi Darshan ( A 3) . Shamas ur Rehman Farooqi’s intervention and Ashok Vajpayee’s help brought a monthly stipend  of Rs5000 for two years  to him. The expenditure on dialysis alone was Rs 6000 per month. His wife stood like a rock to support him .  He was on regular dialysis since 1994 and breathed his last on 9th March 1996.Dr Ashok Hitolkar (  from  Nanavati  Hospital ) was at his bedside at that last moment.

I need to say something about his poetry as well…

 Though he carries his own  style , language and content , his work also  bears   influence of two well known urdu  poets  namley  Noom Meem Rashid and Meeraji .An integral part of Akhtar Ul Imaan’s poetry is its intensity , suggestiveness  and  philosophical style . Akhtar ul Imaan has the capacity to bring his reader to a spot that is in between a dream and the reality .His Nazms project a deep and profound humanism. His  thought is emancipated .It is free from religion , history and political commitments .  I quote …



(Tabdeeli )


“Iss Bhare Shahar mein Koyee Aissa Nahin

Jo Mujhe Raah Chaltay Ko Pehchaan Le

Aur Awaaz Dhe “O Bey! O Sar Phiray!”

Donon Ek Doosray se Lipat kar Vaheen

Gird o Pesh aur Maahaul Ko Bhool Kar

Gaaliyan Dhein Hansein Haathha Paayi Karein

Paas Ke Peid ki Chhaanv Mein Baith Kar

Ghanton Eik Doosaray ki sunein Aur kahein

Aur Iss Nek Roohon Ke Bazaar mein

Meri Yeh Qeemati Be -baha Zindagi

Eik Din Ke liye Apnaa Rukh mod le”



( Change )


(On the pathways of this teeming city ,

There is none to recognise a traveller like me .,

And then cry, “ so here you are ! my reckless friend !”

And then and there  ,

We embrace each other ,

Forgetting who is around or in our surroundings ,

Start  abusing each other ,

Engage in a brawl and smile together ,

Sitting under the shade of the near by tree,

Keep listening and speaking to each other,

for hours and hours .

And then in this marketplace of virtuous lives ,

This precious and priceless life of mine ,

May take a new turn and change direction ,

Just for a day only.)



“Tum se berangi-e-hasti kaa gilaa karanaa thhaa

Dil pe Anbaar hai Khuun-gashtaa tamannaaon kaa

Aaj Toote huve taaron kaa Khayaal aayaa hai

Eik melaa hai pareshaan si ummeedon kaa

Chand Paz-murdaa bahaaron kaa Khayaal aayaa hai

Paanv thhak thhak ke rah jaate hain maayusi mein

Pur-mahan Raah-guzaaron kaa Khayaal aayaa hai

Saaqi-o-baadaa nahin jaam-o-lab-e-juu bhi nahin

Tum se kahanaa thhaa ki ab aankh mein aansu bhi nahin”




“Loghaat alfaaz ka ek  deir hai  lafzon pe mat jaana

Naya aahang hota hai Morattab Lafz o maani ka

Meray haq mein abhi kuchh faisalaa sadir na farmaana

Me jis din aaoonga taaza Loghaat hamraah laaoonga”


(The dictionary is nothing but a pile of words

Be careful and discreet as a fresh plan is in the offing

To describe everything anew .

Pray, Don’t pass any judgment at the instant

The day I come my lord,

I shall bring along with me the new glossary )


( Ittefaq )


“Dayaar-e-Gair main koyee jahaan na apana ho

shadeed karb ki gharriyan guzar chukane par

kuchh ittefaq ho aisa ki ek sham kahin

kissi ek aissi jagah se ho yun hi mera guzar

Jahaan Hujum e Gurezaan mein Tum Nazar aao

Aur Eik Eik Ko Hairat Se Dekhtaa Reh Jaaye ”


(In a foreign land ,

Where none is your own,

After spending some intensely anguished moments ,

And by sheer coincidence ,

one evening it so happens ,

While walking casually through a place ,

Where , among the passing crowds ,

I happen to see you ,

And then In total bewilderment ,

Each of us keeps looking at the other.)


After reading his poems , I found that the poet in him is ever in search of a new mode of expression. There is a tone of  genuine  anguish and sorrow in his poetry . A sorrow that is fundamentally linked to internal demands  of every  human being  set against  innumerable external influences arising out  of existence .It appears that he himself has been  a student all along his creative endeavours  indulging  in self analysis and self criticism with  extraordinary aloofness . For this I suggest every reader to read his poem  “Ek Ladka “ . “Ek Ladaka” is a poem about all of us .The structure of the poem is sarcastic and  spectacular.  A boy within  him keeps trailing the poet . This boy peeps into the contradictions of his tall thinking and small actions .  The  reader feels a  sense of loss and passing time in this poem. I add some lines from this great poem …


“Anaasir muntashir ho jaane nabzein doob Jaane tak

Navaa e subh ho ya naala e shab kuchh bhi gaana hai

Zafar mandon ke aage rizk ki tahsil ki Khaatir

Kabhi apna hi  nagma  unn Ka  keh kar muskaraana hai

Sahar Ki aarzo  mein Shab  ka  daaman thhaamta huun Jab

Yeh ladkaa  poochhta hai  Akhtar Ul Imaan tum hi Ho 


Akhtar Ul Imaan  has published seven collections:

Tareek Sayaara (1943)

Gardyab (1946)

Aabjoo (1959)

Yadein ( The book won him a Sahitya Academy Award in 1962 )

Bint-e-Lamhaat (1969)

Naya Ahang (1977)

Sar-o-Samaan (1983)

In an interview to Ghulam Rizvi  “Gardish “ , he once said :

“The concept of time in my poetry is so felt as if it is a part of my  “Being”and goes hand in gloves with me in my creations.   This concept is neither of Maaya  nor of Mortality . It is such a living and ever pervading being  which is infinite. Had it not been  time, it would have been something greater than God  because due to its presence even the form and concept of God ever goes on changing. Our entire poetic process bears the stamp of the same stereotyped language whereas everything has gone through a sea change.  Ironically , whatsoever is left out is nothing but slogan mongering of thr lover and the beloved. I have tried to save myself from this heresy and kept the diction as anti romantic , rough and rugged.”

About Akhtar ul Imaan , Dr Gopi Chand Narang writes this :-

“A facet of his writing can be compared to R.K. Laxman's ‘common man' who observes all that is wrong around him, all that is commercialised, and the erosion of human values. While Imaan did refer to and appreciate revolutionary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, he was not among the activists. He used  the power of his pen. He was  recognised by the Urdu community only after he was conferred the Sahitya Akademi Award for Yaadein.  It was only after the award that everyone started reading him, and his name was taken with the likes of Meeraji and N M Rashid. He was fiercely independent. Iman's writing was multifaceted. While, on the one hand, his poetry reflected a sense of longing for human values, relationships and innocence that a migrant would feel in a metropolis like Mumbai (Imaan himself migrated to Bombay from Uttar Pradesh), it also dealt with weighty socio-political issues such as corruption, poverty and injustice.”

I end this post with his  popular Nazm  Be’ Talauqi’ with my simple English rendering..


(Be’ Talauqi )

"Shaam hotii hai sahar hotii hai ye waqt-e-ravaan 

Jo kabhi meray sar pe sang e garaan ban ke giraa 

Raah mein aayaa kabhii merii himaalaa ban kar 

Jo kabh i ukdaa banaa aisaa ki hal hi na huaa 

Ashq ban kar merii Aakhon se kabhi Tapakaa hai 

Jo kabhi Khoon-e-jigar ban ke mizshgaan par Aayaa 

Aaj bevaastaa yuun guzaraa chalaa jaataa hai 

Jaisay me kashmakash-e-zeest mein shaamil hi nahin"


( Dissociation )


(Evenings keep visiting me  ,

Mornings too continue to  arrive ,

This fleeting time ,

That fell on my head like a boulder ,

Sometimes stood in my path like the mighty Himalaya ,

Sometimes twirled  itself  into a riddle that could not be resolved,

Sometimes dropped from my eyes as tears ,

Sometimes , like my  poor heart’ s blood , 

 Appeared upon  my eyelashes ;

Today , totally unconcerned ,

This time moves past me , 

As if I don’t belong to the crowds 

Struggling for existence .)


Rest in peace Akhtar ul Imaan ……………

( Avtar Mota )

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