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How Naseeruddin Shah, Gulzar and Jagjit Singh brought Mirza Ghalib to life in the 80s

The Doordarshan series Mirza Ghalib played a crucial role in communicating the legendary poet’s ideas and thoughts to creative minds of the present generation.

Written by Anurag Singh Bohra | New Delhi |
Updated: December 27, 2017 10:35:27 pm
TV show Mirza Ghalib Naseeruddin Shah in TV show Mirza Ghalib.

As we celebrate the 220th birth anniversary of Mirza Ghalib, we take a look back at the Doordarshan series on the legendary poet.

Mirza Ghalib had a modern view on art, love, society, rituals, religion and life. Hence, his poetic wisdom still holds significance. The Doordarshan series Mirza Ghalib also played a crucial role in communicating Ghalib’s ideas and thoughts to creative minds of the present generation.

TV show Mirza Ghalib was the most progressive attempt initiated by Doordarshan in the late 80s. With budget limitation and low production value, India’s national network hit the bullseye by capturing Ghalib’s journey in the most aesthetic and engaging way.

In one of the episodes, as Ghalib’s wife is persuading him to leave Delhi and return to Agra as she believes he won’t be able to survive peacefully in the capital. To which he recites, “Baazeechaa-e-atfaal hai duniya mere aage, hota hai shab-o-roz tamaasha mere aage,” which means the world is a children’s playground before me, night and day this theatre is enacted before me. He sarcastically comments on the communal disharmony that was widely plaguing the society at that time.

Noted film and theatre actor Naseeruddin Shah, who essayed the role of the poet in the TV show Mirza Ghalib, considers it his finest performance at par with movies directed by Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Shekhar Kapur and Ketan Mehta. The Doordarshan show, written and directed by Gulzar, was received well not only in India but made Naseer a rage among the audience in Pakistan as well. What’s more, Gulzar, who himself is known for penning down some of the most iconic lyrics, mesmerised ghazal lovers as he collaborated with the late Jagjit Singh.

Apart from Naseeruddin Shah, Neena Gupta and Tanvi Azmi were also praised for their portrayal of Nawab Jaan and Umrao Begum, respectively. Also, Chitra Singh’s soothing voice amicably complemented Jagjit Singh in the ghazlas.

Such is the influence of the great poet that even today youngsters are listening to ghazals from the series on YouTube. At best, Gulzar, Naseer and Jagjit Singh paid the best tribute to Mirza Ghalib.

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