Saturday, March 24, 2018




Dr RAHI MASOOM  RAZA ( 1927-1992)

( Photo Dr Rahi Masoom Raza   his daughter in law( Parvati )  and grandchild.)


"Zakhm jab bhi koyi zehn  o dil par laga,
Zindagi ki taraf ek dareecha khula.
Hum bhi goya kisi saaz ke taar thay
Cho'tt khaate rahe gungunaate rahe.."..(Dr Rahi Masoom Raza)

"I am the son of three mothers ; Nafisa Begum, AMU and River  Ganga. I gift this book "Scene 75 "  to them. Nafisa  Begum is dead.I can't remember her very clearly. But the other two mothers are alive and I remember them well.".......Dr Rahi Masoom Raza.

Kunwarpal Singh, Dr Rahi 's friend  and colleague at Aligarh Muslim  University   informs this :-

" His decision to  move to Mumbai was triggered by his marriage  to Nayyar Jahan in 1965. Nayyar Jahan was already married  and despite opposition , he went ahead with his decision to marry her. A full blown scandal erupted  at AMU by this marriage and Dr Rahi lost his job. His rivals at AMU  got a big excuse. They were opposed to his attempts of introducing  Hindi courses in the Urdu Department and vice versa.
In Mumbai , life was tough. His friends Kamleshwar  and Dharamvir Bharati did support him initially.
They published his work in the Hindi magazines that they edited and ensured advance payments to him. Raj Khosla was impressed by his style and work.He engaged him for his films as script cum dialogue writer. He had mastery over urdu and Hindi .That proved of immense help. Soon BR Chopra brought him in his camp . When BR Chopra requested Dr Rahi  to write TV script and dialogues for Mahabharata, he refused as he had no time. Chopra Sahib went ahead with a press conference wherein he declared that Dr Rahi Masoom Raza shall be writing dialogues and script for his mega TV  serial Mahabharata. Dr Rahi  felt surprised and Chopra Sahib  was flooded with letters that said, "were all Hindus dead that you had to give this task to a Muslim? "
Chopra Sahib forwarded all these letters to Dr Rahi .

Dr Rahi  was a  real Ganga-Putra or a  Ganga Kinarewala born at Ghazipur. Next day , he went to Chopra Sahib's bungalow and said to him, "Chopra Sahib ! I will write the Mahabharata. I am a son of the River Ganga . Who knows the civilization and culture of  India better than  I do? "

His son Nadeem Khan is married to Parvati the  Trinidadian pop singer and model  of Indian origin. Nadeem Khan ,a  cinematographer and film director by informs this :-

" Writing Mahabharata took it's toll in his health.He aged fifteen years in that time. He read a lot of scriptures and was always stressful. He could not afford to go one  step wrong. He was a Shiva-Bhakt.After Mahabharata ,he wanted  to script " Om Namah   Shivaye"  but that was not to be.He died at 65 . Looking at the grand success of Mahabharata, I urged him to  charge higher fee for his work but he always refused . Everyday we had ten or fifteen people at the Dastarkhwaan. He was known to write films free and sometimes just for a Paan."

Dr Rahi  belonged to an aristocratic family from Ghazipur.  His  brother Dr Moonis Raza was among the founder chairman of JNU and VC of Delhi University . Another brother Prof. Mehndi Raza headed Geography Department in AMU. His  fourth brother was Ahmed Raza , an  economist who worked with IMG in Washington. Dr Rahi's  sister  Suraiya did her doctorate in history.

It was Rahi's  idea to use Samay  (Time) as narrator of the epic  Mahabharata on TV. He coined new words like Pitashri and Matashri   that became so popular as if the ancient characters had  actually spoken them.

He was a poet, playwright, novelist , film script and dialogue writer,  linguist who had  command over  Hindi, Urdu,Sanskrit  and English .His TV serial " Neem  Ka Peid"  was also quite popular in the  entire length and breadth of the country . His book' Aadha Gaon' is his finest contribution to the corpus of Indian Literature.So are his other  works like ,Topi Shukla, Ous ki boond and Katra Bi Aarzo.He also wrote Himmat Jaunpuri(1969) ,Dil Ek Saada Kagaz(1973) and  Chhote Aadmi Ki Badi  Kahaani (on the life and sacrifice of PVC Havaldar Abdul Hamid ). He also compiled a book of his nonfiction writings under title"Lagtaa Hai Bekaar Gaye Hum". Even when writing about the darkest moments in his novels, Raza never loses his unsentimental wit and humour. But it is in Aadha Gaon that we see him at his full power.  The book questions the idea of Partition and nationhood based on religion which may set the  foundation for hate and fear in the subcontinent .Several of Raza’s works vividly depict the agony and turmoil of the consequences of the partition of India. His novel "Scene 75" is a   Short , crisp and fascinating novel set in Bombay of 1970 .Stories of   strugglers , sleazy producers  and film obsessed social climbers. Raza gives a kaleidoscopic view of  tinsel town and the hypocrisy as he rips off many curtains . The central Character of "Scene 75"  is Ali Amjad,a struggling film  script writer from Benaras surrounded by the  cynical and manipulative characters, unscrupulous producers, bigoted middle class social climbers and ambitious clerks. You sympathize  with Ali Amjad ( who is possibly  Dr Rahi Masoom Raza himself) . In some stories and novels,Raza skillfully makes the reader know how in 1947,  some congress leaders  suddenly  became Muslim League supporters and moved to Pakistan . He also talks about many Muslim League leaders or supporters in his home state who stayed back in India post 1947 and wore Congress  coats .

He wrote the screenplays and dialogues for over 300 films. The dialogues for "Me Tulsi Teray Aangan Ki "and "Mili" won him prestigious Filmfare awards. In the Film Writers Association, he  was the only writer who opposed the Emergency during Indira Gandhi's rule.The association and many film personalities had supported the Emergency.

As young boy ,he fell victim to  tuberculosis and had to spend about 6 years in Nainital and Kashmir.In Kashmir, he developed close friendship with Dwarika Nath Gigoo Rajkamal who also spent some months in Tangmarg  sanatorium  with Rahi Masoom Raza. Both were fighting tuberculosis.


Both brothers  ;  Dr Moonis Raza and  Dr Rahi Masoom  Raza  had strong links with Kashmir . Dr Moonis Raza was in Kashmir for more than a decade . He served as Principal Regional Engineering College, Srinagar  and also as VC University of Kashmir . Many students and teachers  remember him well. Dr Rahi  Masoom  Raza was also in Kashmir when he contracted tuberculosis. He made  many friends from amongst the literary and medical fraternity . Dr Tahir Mirza from Chest Diseases Hospital,Srinagar  was his closest friend.  Many many writers , leaders , artists , theatre artists from Kashmir became his close friends  . He kept coming to Kashmir repeatedly. In fact his wife Nayyar Jahan had also lived in Kashmir  for more than two years .
Noted English writer and translator Prof Arvind Gigoo told me this :

“He has come to our place a number of times. My uncle-cum-brother Dwarka Nath Gigoo Rajkamal, Kishori Kaul and Dr Rahi Masoom Raza were patients of tuberculosis. Rajkamal Gigoo and Rahi Masoom Raza spent many months together  in Tangamarg. Sanatorium. Raza and Rajkamal Gigoo were of  same age. In Kashmir , he met all Hindi writers. S K Toshakhani,P N Pushp, etc. I mean father of Dr Shashi Shekhar Toshakhani. Dr Tahir Mirza was his closest friend in Kashmir. Dr Mirza of CD Hospital, Srinagar was an agnostic. He never charged fees from any patient. Treated all patients free. We used to meet often. He was married to one Sujata Mirza. She was a Shaivite. She had worked for BBC. I still remember her radio talk on 'Growing Old Gracefully 'written in Queen's English. She read it like an English lady. A remarkable conversationalist.”

Prof Nusrat Andrabi  Ex. Principal Women ‘s College, Srinagar informs this  :

“ I know the family very well. Nayyar Jahan or Nayyar  Apa was the grand daughter of Sir Aftab Ahmad of Aligarh. She was married to Col Yunus Khan of Rampur, brother in law of  Nawab of Rampur. Col. Yunus Khan was posted  in Kashmir and he took up  his private family residence at   Magarmal  Bagh , near my parental house. I was a daily visitor to their house .  This is 1963-65. A great pleasant couple, very loving and cultured. Then after a few years they went to Aligarh.I was in touch  with them .  Later  Nayyar Apa left Col Saheb and married Rahi Masoom Raza. Rahi's  poem '1857'  was very popular those days.”

Journalist Rahul Jalali son  of   P N Jalali ,Journalist  and freedom fighter, told me this   :

“ Moonis Raza and my father were both interned in a  jail in Delhi before 1947. Later, they spent two years in Eastern Europe together. My father met my mother in Europe and they married. When I was two years old, my mother stayed for  six months in Raza household completing her MA in Library Science from Aligarh . During this period , I was looked after by Moonis and Rahi's sister. I also remember some of the "great escapades" of Rahi. During my growing up years, Rahi often used to visit Srinagar and stay with Jalali and Sumitra Behen  as the Raza brothers used to call my mother. Unfortunately , I lost touch with Rahi when he shifted to Mumbai (then Bombay). But   Moonis,  I kept in touch with till his last days. “

Although , Raza never joined communist Party of India, he had all his sympathies for the left and underprivileged. The rebel  in him decided to support Pabbar Ram ,   a communist candidate in an election in his native state against his own father,a congress candidate .

He was a liberal and open minded person.Due to attack of  polio in childhood , he had a little limp.I end this post with his poetic will ....

(Will And Testament)

My art is dead,
My friends
My skin has turned blue,
My friends 
Take me to the Ganga in Ghazipur,
Let me sleep in her lap.
But it could be that I die far from my homeland 
So this is my will
If a little river flows in that foreign city , 
Take me there
Let me sleep in her lap
And tell her 
That this son of Ganga is now hers.

(Rahi Masoom Raza)

So long so much.

(Avtar Mota)

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