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National Seminar on ‘Kaifi Azmi: A Life in Creative Pursuits’ at the Kennedy Auditorium AMU


Aligarh, August 19: Noted film lyricist and poet, Javed Akhtar said that despite the political and economic shifts in India, Kaifi Azmi retained his idealism and remained optimistic of a socialist future for India. Kaifi’s optimism was reflected in poetry replete with dreams of a socialist egalitarian society in which the voice of another fellow human being would be heard like a resonating sound of one’s self.
Javed Akhtar was addressing today at the inaugural session of a National Seminar on ‘Kaifi Azmi: A Life in Creative Pursuits’ at the Kennedy Auditorium of the Aligarh Muslim University.
The seminar, which was presided over by AMU Vice Chancellor, Lt General Zameer Uddin Shah (Retd), was organized by the University in collaboration with the Sahitya Academy, New Delhi. AMU Pro-Vice Chancellor, Brigadier Syed Ahmad Ali (Retd) and Dr. K. S. Rao, Secretary, Sahitya Academy were the Guests of Honour.
Javed Akhtar said that today the market forces and globalization may have turned society more selfish and self-centred but no human society can thrive if it fails to heed the call for justice to all sections, especially the marginalized, poor and down- trodden.
Akhtar said that Kaifi Azmi was a torch bearer for all these values which were manifested in the spirit of the Progressive Writers’ Movement of 1930s. He said that the man who ultimately became his father-in-law, was his true mentor and from him he had imbibed the values which taught him the importance of the “right to dissent” and the “right to freedom of speech”. He said that it was sad that in today’s world when a person speaks out against “injustice” committed by society, most people tend to dismiss such utterances as “propaganda”.
Noted film personality and social activist, Mrs Shabana Azmi remembered her father Kaif Azmi as person who was very different from other fathers. She said that that she was a ‘different’ daughter of a ‘different’ father. “In fact, I now displayed it with such new found confidence that instead of being sniggered at by my class-mates, I became an object of envy”, said Mrs Shabana Azmi.
Azmi said that she had learnt from the lap of her father Kaifi Azmi who had taught her two fundamentals of the life. The first lesson which Kaifi gave to her daughter was “in whatever field you are, even if it is a humble vocation, try to be the best”. The second lesson was “never shy away from speaking the truth even if the tide is going against you”.
Presenting the keynote address at the seminar, Professor Irtiza Kareem, Director, National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, New Delhi said that like other famous poets, Kaifi Azmi began as a ghazal writer, cramming his poetry with the repeated themes of love and romance in a style that was replete with clichés and metaphors. However, his association with the Progressive Writers' Movement and Communist Party made him embark on the path of social discourse.
“Kaifi’s poetry continues to influence generations for passionate espousal of causes. His poems celebrate love, compassion and human equality. The lyrical beauty and powerful expression of his film songs have captivated millions,” said Prof Kareem.
In his presidential remarks, AMU Vice Chancellor, Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah paid rich tributes to Kaifi Azmi through a poem “Ajeeb Admi Tha Who”.
Addressing on this occasion, AMU Pro-Vice Chancellor, Brigadier S Ahmad Ali pointed out that society needed another Kaifi Azmi. “When there are signs of people being divided and when there is a presence of hatred, a Kaifi Azmi is much needed to bring peace with his words,” said Brigadier Ali.
Brig. Ali announced that soon air conditioning facility will be available in the Kennedy Auditorium.
Director of the Seminar, Prof Shafey Kidwai, said that Kaifi’s songs have been a part of our collective conscience. He said, “Kaifi was a poet of masses. He spoke in the voice of propinquity about injustice and exploitation. His poetry was rich with emotion and empathy towards the disadvantaged sections of the society,” said Prof Kidwai.
Mr. Chandra Bhan Khayal, Convener, Urdu Advisory Board, Sahitya Academy also expressed his views on Kaifi Azmi. Mr. Mushtaq Sadaf, Programme Officer, Sahitya Academy conducted the programme.
Ms. Shabana Azmi inaugurated the Kaifi Azmi Collection at Maulana Azad Library. On this occasion a catalogue of Kaifi Azmi’s Collection was also released.

(Dr. Rahat Abrar)
Public Relations Officer

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