Saturday, March 24, 2018




Dr RAHI MASOOM RAZA ( 1927-1992)


"I am the son of three mothers.Nafisa Begum  ( Biological Mother) , 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 :
" 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 Bombay , 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. 

Rahi  had a  mastery over Urdu and Hindi .That proved of immense help. Soon BR Chopra brought him in his camp . When BR Chopra requested Rahi to write TV Script and dialogues for Mahabharata, he refused as he had no time.  B R Chopra  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. Rahi felt surprised and B R  Chopra  was flooded with letters that said:

" This is not fair. Many Hindu writers can do the script in a better way . What is the need to engage a Muslim when so many Hindu scholars and writers are easily available ? " 

 B R Chopra  forwarded all these letters to Rahi .And B R Chopra knew his job and the man whom he trusted . He remained  adamant on Rahi Masoom Raza .

Born in Ghazipur (UP) ,Rahi was a real Ganga Putra or a  'Chhora Ganga Kinare wala'  .  Moved by the trust and confidence of BR Chopra in him, Rahi Masoom Raza  went to  B R Chopra's Bungalow and told him:

"Chopra Sahib ! I will write the Mahabharata. I am a son of the Ganga . Who knows the civilization and culture of India better than i do? "

His son Nadeem Khan (Cinematographer) informs:

" 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 the narrator for  the epic Mahabharata . 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, a linguist who had command over Hindi, Urdu,Sanskrit and English.His TV Serial " Neem Ka peid" was also quite popular in 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 Havalidar Abdul Hamid ). He also compiled a book of his Nonfiction writings under title"Lagtaa Hai Bekaar Gaye  Hum".

He wrote scripts and Dialogues for about 300 films. Dialogues for "Me tulsi teray aangan ki "and "Mili" won him prestigious Filmfare awards.

As a young boy ,he fell victim to Tuberculosis and had to spend about 6 years in Nainital and Kashmir.

Although, he never joined the Communist Party of India, he had all his sympathies for the left and underprivileged. He was a liberal and open-minded person. Due to attack of polio in childhood, he had a little limp.


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 Kashmir university . So many students and teachers  remember him well. Dr Rahi  Masoom  Raza was also in Kashmir when he contracted tuberculosis. He made so many friends from amongst the literary and Medical Fraternity . Dr Tahir Mirza from Chest Diseases Hospital was his closest Friend.  So 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. Toshkhani, 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.”

Shri Basi Raina from Radio Kashmir  Informs :

“ In 1978 ,while on Rangmanch  Theatre tour to Bombay,i had the privilege of calling on Dr Masoom Raza with late Ali Mohd. Lone at his residence .Lone Sahib  knew him well and i wanted Rahi sahib's help for procuring adds for my souvenir. To my surprise he knew everyone connected with literature in Kashmir and enquired about M Y Teng...Kamal Ahmad Siddique ..Dr  Tahir Mirza of CD Hospital and others. He also gave me letter for Salim of Salim Javed team for help.He had a limp and was a fantastic conversationalist.”

Prof. Nusrat Andrabi  Ex. Principal Women ‘s college Srinagar informs :

“ I know the family very well. Nayar Jahan or Nayar  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  to Kashmir and he took up  his private family residence at   Magharmal  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  Nayar Apa left Col. Saheb and married Rahi Masoom Raza. His poem 1857 was very popular those days.”

Well Known Journalist Rahul Jalali son  of  late  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. “
   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)


Sources for this write up.
"Scene 75" Dr Rahi Masoom Raza translated to English by Poonam Saxena. Poonam Saxena is the National weekend Editor of The Hindustan Times. She has also translated Dr Dharamvir Bharati's 1949 Novel" Gunahon Ka Devta" into English.
A Short , crisp and fascinating novel  and equally perfect translation  .Set in Bombay of 1970 , the novel contains stories of strugglers , sleazy producers and film-obsessed social climbers. Raza gives a kaleidoscopic view of film world 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 distrustful and scheming characters, crooked producers, narrow-minded middle class social climbers and pushy clerks. You sympathize with Ali Amjad ( who is possibly Dr Rahi Masoom Raza himself) .

Book 'Rahi Masoom Raza ' by Kunwarpal Singh published by  Sahitya Academy in 2005.

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