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Lagta nahin hai jee mera ujde dayaar mein

Posted on: December 11, 2012


This article is written by Sadanand Kamath, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a regular contributor to this blog.

Among the Mughal emperors, Bahadur Shah Zafar (24/10/1775 – 7/11/1862) evoked my sympathy whenever I used to read the chapters on Mughal Empire in the history book during my school days. One rarely comes across such a moving tale of a reluctant emperor at a time when Mughal empire had almost crumbled. It is an irony of fate that the last emperor of Muhgal dynasty who had ruled India for over 300 years had to spend the last few years of his life in exile in Rangoon (Yongon) in Burma (Myanmar) and died unsung in anonymity.

I was moved by a couplet written by him during his exile in Rangoon which I had heard as a part of a ghazal from the film ‘Laal Quila’ (1960). And I continue to feel the same sadness as and when I listen to this couplet of the ghazal:

kitnaa hai badnaseeb Zafar dafn ke liye
do gaz zameen bhi na mili koo-e-yaar mein

[How unfortunate is Zafar for his burial
not even two yards of land he could have
in his beloved land]

Abu Zafar Sirajuddin Mohammed Bahadur Shah Zafar, the full name of Bahadur Shah Zafar was the son of Mughal emperor Akbar Shah II and his Rajput queen Lalbai. He ascended to the throne in 1837 when Mughal Empire was already on the decline. He was actually a titular emperor as his writ worked only in and around Red Fort. He was living on a pension from East India Company who were the de facto ruler of the region forming the erstwhile Mughal Empire. Bahadur Shah Zafar was regarded as the weakest emperor of the Mughal dynasty – the Chessboard King’ as mentioned by William Dalrymple in his book THE LAST MUGHAL (2006). But as a person, he was regarded as the most talented, tolerant and likeable emperor among the Mughal dynasty. He was an Urdu poet with Sufi leanings and a calligrapher. Besides, Urdu and Persian languages, he was proficient in Brijbhasha and Punjabi. During his reign, Urdu literature flourished and reached its zenith. Being a poet himself and with nothing much to do as an emperor, his court was the showcase for the greatest Urdu poets like Mirza Ghalib, Mohammed Ibrahim ‘Zauq’, Nawab Mirza Khan ‘Daagh’, Momin Khan ‘Momin’ etc. It is said that during his time, mushairas attracted more crowd than the courtesans.

During the uprising of Indian rebellion of 1857, Bahadur Shah Zafar became the rallying point among section of the Indian society who made him the Commander-in-Chief at the age of 82. Despite not keeping good health, he led the forces against East India Company’s army and got initial victory around Delhi with the help of the rebel troops. But the superior fire power of East India Company’s British forces put down the rebellion. Bahadur Shah Zafar was forced to surrender inside the Humayun’s Tomb where he was hiding after the defeat. Ironically, he was put under house arrest in his own palace. His two sons and a grandson were captured near Delhi gate and were shot dead by Major Hudson. The British victory over Delhi was followed by arson looting and killings by the British troops during which among many things, most of the works of the well known Urdu poets including that of Bahadur Shah Zafar were lost forever.

After the trial for rebellion, treason and murder, Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled with his youngest wife, a son and a granddaughter to Rangoon in October 1858. With this, nearly four centuries of Mughal rule came to end along with the East India Company. He died on November 7, 1862 at the age of 87. He was quietly buried near his house in Rangoon. The collection of his Urdu ghazals which survived from the arson were published later in a book form called ‘Kulyat-I-Zafar’.

In Rangoon, about 50 years after the death of Bahadur Shah Zafar, a son was born to a Memon Tabani family in 1921 who later became a famous ghazal singer of the Indian sub continent. Incidentally, he started with singing ghazals penned by Bahadur Shah Zafar and made his ghazals popular. His name was Habib Wali Muhammad Tabani, better known as Habib Wali Muhammad. Later, the Tabani family moved to Bombay (Mumbai). The music was his hobby since childhood. So when he moved with his family to Bombay, he learnt classical music under Ustad Latafat Hussain, nephew of Ustad Faiyaz Khan. However, he took more interest in ghazal singing probably influenced by K L Saigal’s singing those days. Since the education was the first priority of his father, after completion of his graduation from Ismail Yusuf College in Bombay, he was sent to US for MBA. So his classical musical training came to an abrupt end.

After completion of MBA, he returned to Bombay sometime in mid 40s. He took part in a Bombay music competition conducted by HMV in which 1200 contestants participated in it. The judges for the competition were Saraswati Devi and Naushad, the famous music directors of Hindi films at that time. He was awarded the first prize for singing Bahadur Shah Zafar’s ghazal ‘lagtaa nahin hai ji meraa’. Later in early 50s, he recorded this ghazal along with Mirza ghalib’s ghazal ‘ye na thhi hamaari kismat’ under the music direction of Saraswati Devi (HMV Record N. 88048). Initially, this record did not become popular but once these ghazals were broadcasted on Radio Ceylon, they become very popular. Thereafter he recorded more ghazals mainly of Bahadur Shah Zafar.

After partition, his family had migrated to Karachi where they set up an industrial group and his family wanted him to take interest in the family business. Sometime in mid 50s, he also migrated to Pakistan and got associated with running family business though he continued to give his spare time to ghazal singing as a hobby. Being a saleable and highly respected singer, he continued to record his albums and got associated with Pakistani film industry as a playback singer. After retirement from his family business, he settled down in California with his family. His son Hameed Wali Muhammed is also a singer.

I have taken for discussion a non-filmy ghazal ‘lagtaa nahin hai ji meraa’ (early 1950s) sung by Habib Wali Muhammad. The ghazal was written by Bahadur Shah Zafar on a wall of his room with a burnt stick since he was denied the writing materials while on exile in Rangoon. The ghazal was composed by Saraswati Devi. It is said that Bahadur Shah Zafar had wished to be buried next to his father’s grave in Sardgah of Zafar Mahal in Delhi. But having beenexiled in Rangoon, there was no chance of his wish being fulfilled. So the ‘makta’ of this ghazal expresses his feeling of anguish and despair.

The same ghazal was also sung by Mohammed Rafi in the film ‘Laal Quila’ (1960) composed by S N Tripathi almost in the same tune as sung by Habib Wali Muhammad. The main difference in these two compositions is that while Saraswati Devi used full orchestra with clarinet (or trumpet?) and percussions, S N Tripathi used only one instrument in the background as Rafi sang in the style of a recitation. Only three out of seven couplets in the original ghazal have been taken for the compositions of these songs. I like both these renditions. After all, the real strength of these compositions is Bahadur Shah Zafar’s ghazal. It may be noted that S N Tripathi had assisted Saraswati Devi in a few films before he became a full-fledged music director.

Incidentally, Habib Wali Muhammad has rendered the first line of the ghazal with the word ‘ji’ instead of ‘dil’ used by Rafi. I also noticed that in subsequent renditions of this ghazal by Habib Wali Muhammad in some concerts, he has used the word ‘dil’. So I guess, the use of the word ‘ji’ in his first rendition was an oversight.


Song-Lagta nahin hai jee mera (Habib Wali Muhammad NFS)(1950) Singer-Habib Wali Muhammad, Lyrics-Bahadur Shah Zafar, MD-Saraswati Devi

Lyrics

lagtaa nahin hai ji meraa aa
ujde dayaar mein
lagtaa nahin hai ji meraa ujde dayaar mein
kiski bani hai aalam-e-naapaayadaar mein
lagtaa nahin hai ji meraa

kah do in hasraton se kahin aur jaa basen aen
kah do in hasraton se kahin aur jaa basen aen
kahin aur jaa basen aen
itni jagah kahaan hai dil-e-daagdaar mein
itni jagah kahaan hai

umr-e-daraaz maang ke laaye thhe chaar din
laaye thhe chaar din
do aarzoo mein kat gaye do intezaar mein
do aarzoo mein kat gaye

kitnaa hai badnaseeb Zafar dafn ke liye ae
kitnaa hai badnaseeb Zafar dafn ke liye ae
dafn ke liye ae
do ghaz zameen bhi na mili koo-e-yaar mein
do ghaz zameen bhi na mili koo-e-yaar mein
lagtaa nahin hai ji ee ee ee

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14 Responses to "Lagta nahin hai jee mera ujde dayaar mein"

All due respect to you Sadanandnji,
“Na kisiki aankh ka noor hoon” AND ” Lagta nahin hai dil mera Two of these famous gazhals have become very popular since Mohmad Rafi sang them in the 1960 movie ‘Lal Qila’. There is, however, some scholarly doubt as to whether Bahadur Shah indeed composed them.
Actually these were wrtten by Muztar Khairabadi, who was a father of Jan e Nisar and grand father of Javed Akhtar.
Do you really think British government just give ink, pen and papers to Bahadur shan Zafar? Remember what British did to him!

Please read here.
http://sundeepdougal.tripod.com/Zafar.html

please read the description..than play the whole song.

I am aware of the controversies regarding the accredition of this ghazal. Even the name of Seemab Akbarabadi is mentioned as the writer of this ghazal. This controversy has been discussed at length in this blog itself :
http://atulsongaday.me/2008/12/25/naa-kisi-ki-aankh-ka-noor-hoon/

I have not stated that British Government gave ink and paper to Bahadur Shah Zafar. What I have stated is the one often stated in many places in the website and in the book ‘ The Last Mughal’ by William Dalrymple that he used a burnt log (may be charcoal) to write this ghazal on the wall of his room.

Kamath ji,
Na kisi ki aankh ka noor …. and Lagta nahin hai dil mera…..
These 2 immortal gazals have been in hotly discussed arguments as to who is the writer of these.
On various fora and sites and blogs this point has been discussed so many times that I have lost the count and still the final word has not been said.
Good thing that you gave the link to our earlier discussion on this point.
With all the evidence and arguments,I belong to the group who firmly believes that these gazals are the creation of Bahadur shah Zafar ONLY.
( BSZ was imprisoned in Rangoon,Burma and died in prison.The king of Burma Thibaw Min was defeated by the British and kept in exile in Ratnagiri,India from 1885 to 1916 till his death.Thiba’s Palace can be seen in Ratnagiri even today.Ratnagiri’s V.D.Sawarkar was kept in Andaman for many years.)
All the discussins started only after Rafi’s rendition of Na kisi ki
aank ka noor….from Lal Qila-1960 became famous.

Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor HooN
There is significant opinion that this ghazal is not by Bahadur Shah, but by Muztar Khairabadi. This was attested by Muztar’s son, Jan Nisar Akhtar (the famous poet) in a 1938 article in the magazine “Suhail” (edited by Prof. Al-e Ahmad Suroor). He claimed that the ghazal was in Muztar’s handwritten divan which he had in his possession. Apparently, it is also found in a very early “intekhab” of Muztar’s poetry. Also notably, this ghazal was not found in the first edition of “Kulliyaat-e Zafar” published by Naval Kishore Press in 1887, and was still not included in the 5th edition (published 1918). The first published attribution of this ghazal to Zafar appears to be in a selection called “Navaa-e Zafar”, published in 1958 by Anjuman Taraqqi-e Urdu Hind. It was, of course, also included as Zafar’s in the film “Laal Qila”.

this information from a long excerpt of an article by Yusuf Hasni published in “Nigaar” (ed. Niaz Fatehpuri) in January 1963. The excerpt is quoted in the book “urdu kay zarb-ul masal aSH’aar”, edited by Muhammad Shams-ul Haq, published by Idara-e Yaadgaar-e Ghalib Karachi in 2003, pp. 204-207.

I remember having read also that when challenged,the so called handwritten Gazal could not be produced and the entire khandaan of JNA and his sons kept quiet after that ,never ever uttering anything about it again,till today !
Such counter statements and claims are frequent,many times without any corroborating evidence,confusing the fans of the Gazal.
-AD

Sadanand Ji, reading your post was like going on a Time Travel. Thank you. Your posts are very visual to read.

Thanks for liking the post.

Hmmm. . .
Interesting to note that the corresponding filmi ghazal by Rafi Sb is not yet posted on the blog.

Rgds
Sudhir

Sadanand ji,

The write up is very informative and readable. A fair share of our history is inextricably linked with such poetical creations.

Your observation about the orchestration difference between the film version and this version is correct. I think the film required the mood that was correctly painted by SN Tripathi in the way he arranged for Rafi Sb to sing this ghazal. This version sounds like a stage performance and lacks the depth contained in Rafi Sb’s rendition. My humble opinion.

Rgds
Sudhir

Agreed.

Sorry; did not complete the sentence.
Agreed with your observations on Rafi’s filmy version of the ghazal.

This Ghazal and Na Kisi Ki ankh Ka Noor Hoon, are known to us because of Rafi Sahab only. Sad Rafi Sahab version is not yet posted.

Sadanand ji, very informative write up thanks a lot and a beautiful Gazal too!
Atul ji because of your relentless tireless efforts, ordinary fans of HFM like me are introduced to such knowledgeble people like Arunji, Sudhir ji, Sadanand ji et al!

Sadanandji, may thanks for the very, very informative write-up on this ghazal and the controversy on the authorship.

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