Munir Niazi (1928-2006): Mohabbat abb nahiN ho gi

Posted on December 26, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, People, Poetry, Urdu
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Adil Najam

Yet another stalwart of Urdu literature is no more. Munir Niazi passed away at the age of 78.

As regular readers of this blog know, Munir Niazi is a particular favorite of mine. We have written about him and his poetry earlier (wondering whether it was him in the wonderful re-making of Mehdi Hasan’s ‘yeh watan tumhara hai‘; in thinking about song and poetry; and in terms of his literary rivalry with Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, who died just a few months before him). We will, no doubt, write about it again later.

His ‘mohabbat abb nahiN ho gi, yeh kuch din baad meiN ho gi’ and ‘humaisha dair kar daita houN meiN’ are especially poignant and I find his following Punjabi qata so often relevant to my own travails:

kujh unj we raawaN aukhiaN sann
kujh gall icch gham da tauq ve see
kujh shehr dey louk ve zalim sann
kujh sanouN marran da souq ve see

Yes, the path I chose was hard
Yes, there was the noose of grief around my neck
Yes, the citizenry was also so cruel
But, ultimately, we too wanted to get killed

(coloquial for the last line: ‘we were suckers for punishment’; this is NOT a translation, just conveying the essential meaning)

Another favorite of mine is the following:

Kisee ko apnay amal ka jawab kiya daytay,
Swal saray ghalat thay jawab kiya daytay

Here are the details of his passing from The News (27 December, 2006; excerpts):

Renowned Urdu and Punjabi poet Munir Niazi died of cardiac arrest at Jinnah Hospital on Tuesday. He was 78. Family sources said Munir complained of some breathing problem on Tuesday noon and was taken to Jinnah Hospital where his condition deteriorated rapidly and he died during treatment. His Namaz-e-Janaza will be held at Alquds Mosque, Sector A1, Township Lahore at 2.00 pm on Wednesday (today).

The only child of his parents, Niazi was born in Khanpur (Hoshiyarpur, Indian Punjab) on April 9, 1927. After the creation of Pakistan, the family migrated to Sahiwal and settled there. While living in India, Munir also served in the Royal Indian Navy for some time. Twice married, Niazi was issueless. He started as an editor of a newspaper “Saat rang” (seven colours). Niazi has to his credit 14 collections of poetry both in Urdu and Punjabi. Shy, soft-spoken and a person of few words and great self-belief, he was a poet of distinction.

Munir Niazi had a vision of hope and love for his country and its people. Love, he said, is the most enduring quality and poetry reflects the most sublime side of life. His poetry influenced an entire generation of young writers and poets and they should be grateful to him for having set such an exceptional and powerful style in poetry. His works include “Dushmanoon Key Darmiyan”, “Mah-e-Munir”, “Aghaz-e-Zamastan Main Dobara” and “Aik Musalsal.”

Equally proficient in Urdu and Punjabi, Munir Niazi’s poetry had great depth and he advanced the tradition of realism with great sensibility and force of imagination. Words were always slaves to his vision, creation and criticism. In the sixties he also contributed songs to Pakistani films. “Us baiwafa ka shehr hay” sung by the late Nasim Begum for the film “Shaheed” still stirs up memories of a period gone by…. The film industry had its own culture and cruelties. Munir once narrated that for his famous song “Us bewafa ka shahr hai aur ham hain dosto”, he was promised Rs 2,000 but received only Rs 200.

He is acclaimed as a trendsetter with his unique diction, style and thought-content and made an enduring contribution to literature of the post-Independence period. Munir deeply influenced his contemporaries and later generations of poets and is respected by the reading public. His works have been translated into many other languages. For his literary achievements Munir Niazi was awarded ‘Kamal-e-Funn Award for the year 2002 by Pakistan Academy of Letters and the ‘President’s Award for Pride of Performance” in 1992 and ‘Sitara-i-Imtiaz’ in 1998.

Munir Niazi’s poetry will, no doubt, live on.

34 responses to “Munir Niazi (1928-2006): Mohabbat abb nahiN ho gi

  1. Adil Najam says:

    You are right this has been a sad year in terms of the loss of major literary figures of the sub-continent. The coincidence with the death anniversary of Parveen Shakir is eerie. I had missed that connection initially. Just went back and re-read the post Naveed E. had done on Parveen Shakir. Brought back even more memories flooding in.

  2. 26th Dec is also the death anniversary of parween shakir.

    Since we re talking about Urdu adab and associated celebrities, I would like to add that this year we have lost some great names like Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi,Ziaul Haq Qasmi,Shokat Siddiqi and now Muneer Niazi. Too much death news reminds a misra by Munir Sahib[If I am not wrong]:

    Ban Karti Auratain Ronaqain hain Maut ki

  3. Adnan Ahmad says:

    Anwar Seen Rayai wrote a terrific azaad nazm on Jon Elia’s death 4 years ago on bbc site. I am pasting that link below not becuase there is a key mention and a deep nuance about Munir Niazi or poets of his calibre in the poem but because I am sad and I think this poem could well be written about Munir Niazi.

    See link here.

  4. Adnan Ahmad says:

    It is a sad day. In my opinion he was a complete poet. He did justice to whatever topic he wrote about whether it was classical or what people call modern. Also I liked both his ghazals and his nazms. Write now I am remembering his nazm “baaghi beta” because I heard it recently and his famous hamdiya and naatiya lines and his punjabi nazm asma mentioned above.

    jab shaam ke taaray jaaney lagein
    asaar seher ke aaney lagein
    uss waqt tum Uss ko yaad karo
    aur shaam ke khaali khaakey mein
    aur shab ke kisi elaaqey mein

  5. Adil Najam says:

    For those unable to read Urdu, here is a ‘Humaisha der kar daita houN maiN’ in Roman script:

    hameshaa der kar detaa huu.N mai.n

    zaruurii baat kahanii ho
    koii vaadaa nibhaanaa ho
    use aavaaz denii ho
    use vaapas bulaanaa ho
    hameshaa der kar detaa huu.N mai.n

    madad karanii ho usakii
    yaar kii dhaa.Das ba.Ndhaanaa ho
    bahut deriinaa raasto.n par
    kisii se milane jaanaa ho
    hameshaa der kar detaa huu.N mai.n

    [deriinaa=very old/praachiin]

    badalate mausamo.n kii sair me.n
    dil ko lagaanaa ho
    kisii ko yaad rakhanaa ho
    kisii ko bhuul jaanaa ho
    hameshaa der kar detaa huu.N mai.n

    kisii ko maut se pahale
    kisii Gam se bachaanaa ho
    haqiiqat aur thii kuchh
    us ko jaa ke ye bataanaa ho
    hameshaa der kar detaa huu.N mai.n

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