Unfortunate is the land that can’t uphold it’s own legacy. To have been blessed with the affections of the peerless Mirza Ghalib is sufficient alone to make Delhi special but Delhi has decided to hand the honor over to the oblivion. In recent news article from TOI, the Delhi govt. or the archaeological department had no clue how Ghalib’s haveli was permitted to be used as a marriage banquet hall. Such incidences are not merely a proof of the corruption and govt’s incompetency but questions the level of awareness among the people themselves. A place that should be boasted off is left to decay. Thanks to some celebrities who are still proud of this Indian heritage such as Gulzar and Vishal Bharadwaj, the forsaken place was paid its dues in a candlelight vigil on the poets 212th birthday on 27th Dec. I know at least one place I have to visit when I go to Delhi this time before the haveli is reduced to a mockery of the value of art in India.
Looking at how nicely the abodes of Washington Irving, Shakespeare etc have been preserved by the west, it makes me wince how India is recklessly wasting its precious cultural heritage. And its a shame on the Indian universities and education system that Ghalib is merely considered as an intricate, devious poet whose works are beyond the intellectual reach of common reader. It amuses me to read how Padam Sri Urdu poet Dr. Bashir Badr criticizes Ghalib for using complex Persian! – that’s all you’ve got Sir? I can bet 80% of Indian wouldn’t even know Ghalib was born and lived in India and not Pakistan. Thanks to some rare works by Jagjit Singh that a common man has even heard of ‘Hazaaron Khwaahishen aisi’. However, he reserves his uncommon Ghalib renditions for venues such as Kashmir or Middle east. When he was performing in New York just a month back, it was quite lackadaisical as compared to his usual intense performances I’ve seen in India. The crowd mostly consisted of families including middle aged uncle and aunties. The aunties would hum the popular lines in bollywood songs like ‘hosh walon ko’ and go clueless when it came to ‘umr jalvon me basar ho’. So, its easy to see why his song selection is so based upon the location. Also, he would aptly name his concerts ‘Ghalib revived’ and such when he is targeting a coterie of urdu ghazal connoisseurs.
Here’s a video dedicated to the endangered legacy of Ghalib in Delhi that features Gulzar and Jagjit Singh – two names that have greatly promoted Ghalib’s influence in eyes of modern audience.
Yunhi gar rota raha Ghalib to ae ahl-e-jahan
dekhna in bastiyon ko tum ki veeran ho gayin
P.S. More posts on Ghalib’s work here.
Another fan’s journey to Gali Qaasim Jaan here.