Ali Peter John
Ask me,“mental hai kya"? Or “judgemental hai kya"? Or simply ask me if I was born mad or was made mad by this mad, bad and sad and at times sad world and I will still say that I see trees as poets. I once lived (need I tell you again?) in a village where I was surrounded by every kind of tree God must have created. And you will find it very difficult to believe that I saw every tree as a poet expressing his or her feelings about life. My village was wiped out in the name of progress and with my village were also wiped out all the trees on which I regularly saw flowers and fruits of every kind. They were my sources of inspiration since the time I was ten years old and still are. I moved to another place called Yari Road which was also a victim of progress and the growth of civilization created at the cost of cutting off and chopping off of some of the most ancient trees, but I was lucky to have a house in an area where there were some relatives and distant relatives and friends of the trees I was forced to leave behind by cruel circumstances. These trees are my poets and whatever grows on them, leaves, flowers or thorns are poetry for me, the kind of poetry not even the greatest of poets have been able to write or create....
And as I see more and more of my poets (trees) being done away with, I see poets in men and women who are blessed with the same kind of gifts that my favourite trees were blessed with once. Believe it or not, in the last forty years, I have seen poets like Sahir Ludhianvi and Anand Bakshi as two of my most loved and adored trees of poetry and their poetry still lives with me even though time and life have joined hands and uprooted them and left me bereft of good poetry and have left me to live in the company of poets who only make so much of noise signifying nothing and playing hu tu tu or some kind of mad kabaddi of words blended with meaningless meanings...
It was after a very long time that I saw the coming up of a very different kind of tree (poet) created by God when he must have certainly been in his most creative moods. Like all miracles, this miracle of a poet was also something that I never knew when I first met, but he didn't have to meet me personally as his words and feelings had already reached me in some of the early films he wrote lyrics for and he had created some kind of a stir in me which made me eager to meet him, it was a time when I remembered what my friend Naseeruddin Shah had once said and I quote from the master, Mr Shah, “when you pursue a passion very dear to you, the Universe conspires to make that passion come true.
It was in a very unusual atmosphere that I first met Irshad Kamil and I had not received the kind of vibes ever since the leaving of poets like Sahir and Anand Bakshi. These vibes kept growing and we were more friendly than just being a poet and his fan. And with every song he wrote, my admiration for this very young, dynamic and knowledgeable (he is a M.A in Urdu and a Phd in Hindi, a strange combination, but with God-created geniuses, you just can't say...
Irshad first shot into the limelight when he created poetry that was not heard of or years or should I say ages? Among the first few films he created a sweet sensation in lyrics in Hindi films were in the films of Sudhir Mishra and Imtiaz Ali, with whom he has an ongoing relationship when it comes to films and poetry. All Irshad had to do was write songs for films films “Raajneeti",“Cocktail",“Raanjhana",“Once Upon a Time in Mumbai",“Aashique 2"and down to the recently released and talked about films like “Bharat" and “Kabir Singh".
There is what I call a very special something about the poetry of Irshad that can be felt like the fragrance of a rose that blooms once in a way and then spreads and stays on, sometimes or most times forever. That's why the best of his poetry can be felt and deeply experienced in the films of Imtiaz Ali. Take any of Ali's films and you will know, feel and understand why I am saying this.
Irshad is a poet who has a very strong bond with life and all that goes with life, love especially and laughter wherever it is essential. It is these qualities that have made him a name too big in this small world where poetry is still not given the respect it deserves, that's why we don't have poets and poetry like we used to have in the sixties, seventies and eighties, during all that time when so called poets were willing to sell what they called their poetry for a few rupees more to people who did not know or did not care to know what good poetry was and were only interested in having songs in their films because it was some kind of a must item if films had to sell and if the masses had to be attracted towards the massive theatres which are now going out of vogue and people are more interested in watching films inside match-boxes and writing their own stories in cosy comfort and with popcorn and thumbs up as their friends and witnesses to their love or whatever stories they tell each other, stories in which poetry doesn't have much of a place or respect.
I can write volumes and even long treatises on every poem of Irshad and keep saying, “Irshad Irshad (once more, once more), but I will have to stop here because time can sometimes be very unkind and make me end where I should have actually begun. If I had to just mention the names of all the films he has written poetry in the form of songs, it may take me a lifetime and I don't have that kind of time to spend only on a few titles of films.
And what I like best about the poet who is the best in my lifetime now is that he doesn't carry the poet in him or his poetry on his shoulders or in his bag or in some secret place. His poetry is not just for himself or for his beautiful wife who is a beautiful tasveer of life, but for the world which he would like to see as a far better world than it is. His work in the literary field continues with the same passion and if there is one thing I am sure about Irshad Kamil, it is the truth as I know it and that is that he will never sell his soul where his poetry is born for pieces of silver and gold, because his poetry for him is much more precious than all the treasures of the world.
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