Jashn-e-Rekhta celebrates Urdu writing

Seventh festival of books, film-making, history, and poetry

The 7th edition of Jashn-e-Rekhta organized by the Rekhta Foundation for the preservation and promotion of Urdu literature and the tehzeeb of Awadhi culture worked its magic through ghazals, book discussions, shayari, poetry, qawwali, and Sufi music. Photo IPP

Jashn-e-Rekhta, the festival that celebrates all the facets of the Urdu language across art formats was held in the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi from 2 – 4 December 2022. The 7th edition organized by the Rekhta Foundation for the preservation and promotion of Urdu literature and the tehzeeb of Awadhi culture worked its magic through ghazals, book discussions, shayari, poetry, qawwali, and Sufi music. Literary enthusiasts and the general public turned out in droves over the weekend to celebrate Urdu literature, poetry, and song.

On 4 December, filmmaker Muzaffar Ali released his autobiography Zikr: In The Light And Shade Of Time followed by a conversation with Shabana Azmi. The book delves into his creativity in describing women, touching on his deep connection with Kotwara. Ali has shown deep empathy with women in films such as Umrao Jaan, Gaman, and Jaanisaar. The humanity and modernism of his upbringing are reflected by his desire to purge feminine feudal culture. 

In Zikr, he speaks of the influence of Urdu poets Rumi and Amir Khusrau at an impressionable age. Ali said, “The film aesthetic is a dialog between your soul and eyes which you need to serve 24 by 7.” He said he wrote the book fearing his life would become a rolling stone that gathered no moss. 

(L-R) Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Suhail Akhtar Warsi and Minakshi Thakur from Westland Publications. Photo IPP

Tracing his rich lineage back to the chaura Rajputs of Gujarat, Ali has researched his ancestors. He also shared his views on the revolt of 1857 where his ancestor, the Nawab of Muradabad was brutally killed by the Imperial government because he supported the first war of Indian independence. 

Azmi ended the conversation by reciting a sher by her father Kaifi Azmi, “Koi to sood chukaye, Koi to zimma le, us inquilab ka jo aaj tak udhaar se hai.” [If only one paid the interest, if only one took responsibility / for that revolution — which even now, seems a debt] – as translated by the editor, poet, and translator Sudeep Sen).

The session was followed by a book discussion on Dhanak Daeera (The Circle, The Rainbow), a translation of the best works of renowned Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi. Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, and Minakshi Thakur from Westland Publications talked about the volume that took six years of grueling work by four translators. Begun in early 2017, the work makes available the poems in three languages – Urdu, Hindi, and English – emphasizing the significance of transparency in poetry. With established translators including Suhail Akhtar Warsi, the book examines the inquilabi shayari of the progressive writers’ movement

The festival provided an opportunity for leading publishing houses for setting up stands for the promotion and sale of Urdu books including translation into Hindi and English. Rekhta Books, National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), Manjul Publishing House, Star Publication, Urdu Akademi Delhi, Arshia Publications, Rajkamal Prakashan, Vani Prakashan, Nayaab Books, and Rajpal & Sons were all there. 

The festival was supported by UFlex, Polyplex, Bisleri, Bank of Baroda, SRF foundation, Dainik Bhaskar, APL Apollo Tubes, TCI Foundation, Airtel, Indus Towers, HDFC ERGO, and many others.

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