A documentary film produced by actor Shabana Azmi to mark the birth centenary year of her father Kaifi Azmi launched with a world premiere screening at the UK Asian Film Festival in London on Sunday.
‘Kaifinama‘ traces the life of the famous poet and lyricist behind classic films such as ‘Kagaz Ke Phool‘ and ‘Garam Hawa‘ and analyses the influence of his membership of the Progressive Writers Movement on his Urdu poetry replete with messages of social change.
The film, directed by Sumantra Ghosal, includes extensive interviews with the late poet himself, his stage actor wife Shaukat Kaifi, insights from both his children Shabana and Baba Azmi as well as friends and colleagues.
“It is a deeply moving experience for me to share this film at its first public screening anywhere,” said a teary-eyed Shabana Azmi, who was given a standing ovation at the end of the screening at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in London.
“This film is not just about the individual but also reflective of that time. In today’s day and age, his message of social change and social justice is all the more relevant,” said the National Award-winning actor of films such as ‘Ankur‘ and ‘Arth‘.
The film uses extensive archival footage to reconstruct the pre-independence era, Kaifi Azmi’s small town roots in the village of Mijwan in Uttar Pradesh and the enormous change he brought about to his birthplace, his commitment to socialism and the Communist Party, his wide-ranging body of work and a glimpse behind some of his most famous poems such as ‘Aurat‘ and ‘Makaan‘.
“His belief that art should be used as an instrument of change is what drove him to be the revolutionary that he was,” said his daughter, who commissioned the documentary to mark 100 years since her father’s birth in January 1919 and plans to travel with it around the world.
From London, ‘Kaifinama’ travels to Glasgow, Scotland, and then to the US before a series of screenings planned in India. The producers, Mijwan Welfare Society, plan to eventually make the film available on an online platform such as Netflix to ensure a wide global reach.
The world premiere in the UK was also marked by the launch of a new book of translations titled ‘Kaifi Azmi: Poems/Nazms’, compiled by poet Sudeep Sen.
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