Come January, and the City of Joy will host a grand three-day event to celebrate the birth centenary of renowned poet Kaifi Azmi. The event will see the presence of the late poet’s daughter and actress, Shabana Azmi, her husband and lyricist Javed Akhtar, Ustad Zakir Hussain, singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan and Baba Azmi, among others. Pt Bickram Ghosh will also present a special performance on the occasion. The event will also feature a play recital and Raag Shayri performance by Shabana and Javed. There will also be a mushaira.
On Tuesday, Shabana flew down to Kolkata to meet Firhad Hakim, the state minister for urban development and municipal affairs, to discuss the event, which is scheduled to be held from January 17 to 19. At the meeting, held at Hakim’s Chetla residence, the minister assured her and Shouvik Dasgupta, the organiser of the event, all help to ensure smooth conduct of the event.
While talking about Kolkata and what the city means to her, Shabana said, “Long ago, I once came here and stayed at a hotel. One day at the lobby, a waiter spotted me and asked if he could touch my hand. There was nothing impolite about the way he had said it. So, when I asked the reason, he said I was the daughter of Kaifi Azmi, who had changed his life. I learnt that at one point in time, he was suffering from extreme depression and was on the verge of committing suicide. Then one day, he accidentally attended my father’s mushaira session and that gave him a new lease of life. So, he wanted to touch me out of gratitude. This can only happen in Kolkata and there’s no better place to celebrate my father’s birth centenary.”
Hakim, who is a big fan of Kaifi Azmi, said the event will be a matter of pride for the entire city. “Such artistes are coming here to perform! Raag Shayri is a very special form of poetry, where raag from Sanskrit and shayeri from Urdu merge and create a different feeling,” he added.
The event will also feature poetry recitation sessions by Urdu poets from across the world, while personal items of Kaifi Azmi will be on display in an exhibition. “Three events are taking place to celebrate his birth centenary — two in Mumbai and one in Kolkata,” Shouvik, who heads Indo-Occidental Symbiosis, informed us.