Nasir Kazmi : Spirit of the age
Written by English NewsPaper/Dawn/Others   

It is difficult for a son to write on the life and works of the father for either the son is rebellious and sees the father as an authoritarian figure or is too discreetly obedient.

It appears Bassir Sultan Kazmi has attempted to maintain an uneasy balance in his 'Nasir Kazmi- Shaksiat Aur Fun'.

Nasir Kazmi started writing poetry the moment he became aware of the tremendous power of beauty.

In adolescence it is usually a fallout of sexual attraction. He wrote for a girl who fascinated him and as he grew older he realised an  artistic experience is fleeting and can only be captured and retained through art in his case poetry. His    first verse that he wrote made him immensely happy.

It was in 1942 that he was noticed in a mushaira and his ghazal became quite famous.It was in 1942 that he was noticed in a mushaira and his ghazal became quite famous. He migrated to Pakistan before  his graduation and like many others had nothing on him but the clothes that he was wearing — no property, no money, and no house to live in. Those trying days were made harder by the death of his mother who could not bear the  burden of the catastrophic change. He took up many jobs.

His first was with 'Auraq e Nau,' then he switched to 'Humayun,' where he became a joint editor, later he became a liaison officer in Social Welfare Department, moved to the publicity wing in Village Aid Programme and then took  over the responsibility of deputy editor in 'Hum Log.' Finally in 1964 he joined Radio Pakistan and stayed there till the  end.


Although most of his critics say that he derived his poetry from the "Meer school of thought", the fact is that he put up a value addition to it! that made him a poet of his own style.

It is a fact that he saw life differently and it was all a unique expression that enriched Urdu poetry in terms of format and creation of fresh diction as well.

The reason for this repeated change of jobs    was because he had decided very early in life to become a full time poet. This may have been possible had he lived in Ambala where the family had old connections and ancestral  property but it was difficult in Lahore where financial condition compelled him to work. Through ghazal which    to many was a form that should have been abandoned with the changing sensibility he was able to capture the experiences of his time. It captured the spirit of the age and instead of repeating what the others, particularly of the classical period, had written but expressed the experiences of his time.

The first phase of his poetry — the first three to four years in Pakistan -- is full of the imagery and symbolism of hijrat (migration) which he had to experience like thousands of others, and therefore expressed the experiences and sentiments of a collective upheaval. This form was later called 'jadeed ghazal,' ghazal that had been reinvented to express the realities of the time. Nasir Kazmi lived in the times when there was a great ideological divide also reflected in the groupings of the writers. The left-leaning writers only spoke of commitment and the ideological advancement through literature .

Nasir may not have fitted the mould, was based on truthfulness of experience based on the immediate reality.

He wrote in high seriousness, a reflection of his commitment to his work. In this high seriousness there was no room for anything frivolous. He was not an entertainer who pleased his patrons by writing what they wanted to hear but only what went on in the person of a creative nature.

It appears that Bassir Sultan Kazmi is not particularly keen to wash away the stains of adverse criticism from his father for being not responsive enough to the circumstances and for being overtly idealist. He was more in the mould of classical poets who only kept the eternal frontiers as their reference point. To them the day to day happenings in society did not qualify becoming the stuff of poetry. The progressives on the other hand were so particular about the day to day happenings that they appeared to be almost chroniclers, more in the fashion of journalism and social documentalist.

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Nasir Kazmi himself confessed that he was not interested in writing ghazal but more interested in writing poetry.  His choice of the genre was accidental, though secretly fortified by the fact that he liked the ghazal and the major works in Urdu were mostly in this form. He created an ethos of the ghazal that was different from the traditional ghazal, basically through imagery that was new emphasising on a certain continuity in the verses which was not strictly following the traditional pattern.

Bassir Sultan puts up a spirited defense against the criticism levied by Saqi Farooqi on the ghazal being dated.

His ghazal expressed or created a mood in a more definite and direct manner than the traditional ghazal.

As Nasir Kazmi himself asserted that readers and listeners were not getting tired of the ghazal, they were getting tired of the cliches in the ghazal — he reintroduced pure poetic experience in the ghazal, cleaning and wiping away the dust and mire of the unfelt mannerism of the cliche that the ghazal had become.

The main chapters of the book have been divided into biography, poetry, revival of ghazal or 'jadeed ghazal' and the comparison between Nasir and Mir. The views of his contemporaries had also been compiled at the end. Bassir Sultan Kazmi himself is a poet of no mean merit and he has also written a play 'Bisat' which has been staged. For many years he has been living in Britain busy pursuing his academic pursuits.
By Sarwat Ali

Source : The News International (June 01, 2008)

Nasir Kazmi: Shakhsiat aur Fun Bassir Sultan Kazmi. Published by Academy   of Letters,Isla mabad, 2OO7 Pages: 169 Price Rs.2OO