Updated: August 12, 2020 9:05:40 pm
It was in the early 70s, at a mushaira in Mumbai that Urdu poet Munawwar Rana first ran into Rahat Indori, both young men, barely in their twenties at the time. What followed was a friendship of a lifetime.
Together they ruled the world of modern Urdu poetry for several decades. They created soulful verses, and went on to become immensely popular in the Urdu literary scene, so much so that mushairas were named after them.
Having lasted nearly half a century, Rana and Indori’s camaraderie came to an end on Tuesday after the latter passed away following a heart attack. He was 70.
“I have no words to describe my loss,” Rana told PTI over phone from Lucknow.
राहत साहब का Cardiac Arrest की वजह से आज शाम 05:00 बजे इंतेक़ाल हो गया है…..
उनकी मग़फ़िरत के लिए दुआ कीजिये….
— Dr. Rahat Indori (@rahatindori) August 11, 2020
Recalling their heydays, Rana said there were nearly 40 mushairas where only the two of them performed.
These poetic symposiums would be named, “Munawwar and Rahat” assuring their admirers that they would not be subjected to performances by any other poet.
It was almost like a tradition, Rana remembered, for each of them to introduce the other.
“He loved me so much that during one mushaira, while introducing me, he said, ‘there are only three big names in Urdu poetry. First is Munawwar Rana, second is Munawwar Rana and third is Munawwar Rana’,” he said.
The Sahitya Akademi winner shared another fond memory of his friend.
“While coming back from one another mushaira, I told him that he had become a great poet. He retorted ‘I could have become one, if you hadn’t come in the way’, to which I had teasingly apologised. That was the kind of relationship we had,” the 68-year-old poet recalled.
While Rana was popular for his themes of family and mother, Indori won over the audience with his powerful and lucid poetry.
In fact, Rana admitted that he himself was quite an admirer of the recently deceased poet.
“I admired his style of not mincing words and the use of conversational Urdu in his poems. He had complete control over the crowd,” he said.
The two poets who were last seen together on the stage of a literary festival in December last year, have been there for each other through thick and thin.
“When I went for a knee surgery some 10 years ago in Indore, he would bring me food every day,” Rana said.
They were in constant touch over the phone also throughout the lockdown. He added that even their families were quite close to each other.
“Rahat used to tell his kids to consult me for taking decisions in their life. He used to tell his son to ask me for a job. His children still call me ‘chacha‘,” he said.
Senior poet Waseem Barelvi, who knew Indori for 45 years, remembered him for his humility and inimitable style of reciting ghazals.
“When Rahat sahab started out in the poetry scene in the 70s, it was customary to recite ghazals in melodies.
“But he was the first poet who decided to do away with melodies, and simply recite his ghazals,” the 80-year-old poet said.
He added that Indori was blessed with the ability to paint vivid imagery with his words.
Barelvi and Indori spent a significant duration of their friendship travelling the world together, the former said.
“He always treated me like an older brother ‘ with a lot of love and respect,’ Barelvi said.
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