Arts and culture

Reminiscing about the Bards of Revolution: Urban Folk Performs ‘Chalo Phir se Muskurae’ at JNU

2.24_ubran_AIt is easier to convey sentiments and thoughts through poetry. It is always more precise, succinct and direct. You might spend hours in explaining a particular idea, or critiquing the system in prosaic words, in poetry you need only a few choice expressions. How impactful were Sahir Ludhianvi’s words, when he wrote:

Yeh kuche, yeh nilaamghar dilkashi ke,
Yeh loothte hue kaarwan zindagi ke,
Kahan hai kahan hai muhafiz khudi ke?
Jinhe naaz hai Hind par, woh kahan hai?

These alleys, these bidding-courts of rich delights,
These lives undone and ravished;
Where are the proud defenders of virtue?
Those proud of Hind, where are they?

(Translation my own)

We, at JNU, hardly ever step out for a protest without a dhafli, or armed without our repertoire of slogans, chants and songs. And so have other countless rebels, protesters and dissenters over the pale of history.

Revolutions in history have been immortalized through songs. Anthems have blown the bugle for revolutions. Revolutionary ideas were popularized through songs. Revolutions were sustained through songs. Dictators have been brought down; tyranny has been defeated through songs. Who does not remember the lines from Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s “Hum Dekhenege”?

Jab zulm-o-sitam ke koh-e-garaan
Rooi ki tarah udd jaayenge,

Hum mehkoomon ke paaon tale
jab dharti dhad dhad dhadkegi,

Jab arz-e-khudaa ke kaabe se
Sab but uthwaaey jaayenge,

Hum ahl-e-safaa mardood-e-haram
Masnad pe bithaaey jaayenge.

Sab taaj uchaaley jaayenge.
Sab takht giraaey jayyenge.

Bas naam rahega Allah kaa,
Jo ghaayab bhi hai, haazir bhi,
Jo manzar bhi hai, naazir bhi.

When dark peaks of torment and tyranny
will be blown away like cotton fluff;

When the earth’s beating, beating heart
will pulsate beneath our broken feet;

When crackling, crashing lightning
will smite the heads of our tormentors;

When, from the seat of the Almighty
every pedestal will lie displaced;

Then, the dispossessed we; we,
who kept the faith will be installed
to our inalienable legacy.

Every crown will be flung.
Each throne brought down.

Only His name will remain; He,
who is both unseen, and ubiquitous; He,
who is both the vision and the beholder.

(Trans. Mustansir Dalvi, 2011)

2.24_urbanEvery scripted word takes the form of a sharp piercing arrow, every note reverberates with the aspirations of the suppressed, and the voice rises like the surging swell of the ocean, till its echoes and shakes the very foundations of tyranny. Such is the strength, vigor and passion behind some of the popular songs that were written in the early nineties by Faiz, and such is the potency and vibrancy of songs of Gorakh Pandey, our very own poet from JNU. When these songs were sung, in unison, “they” had reasons to be afraid:

Ve darte hain.
Kis cheez se darte hain?
Tamam dhan-daulat
Gola-barood police-fauj ke bawajood?
Ve darte hain.

They are scared.
What are they scared of?
With all the wealth-riches
In spite of the cannonballs-gunpowder, the police-armies?
They are scared.

(Translation my own)

These songs have been offered in thousand different renditions, more so than ever in the present times, when, dare we say, the sentiments expressed echoes, at the face of oppression, in each one of us. Thus, it was hardly surprising when in an evening of support and solidarity, Urban Folk presented their own versions of Faiz’s and Gorakh Pandey’s songs and poetry, which they have recorded for their launch album ‘Chalo Phir se Muskurae.’ The event by Urban Folk was held on 19 February in SSS-1 Auditorium at 7 in the evening.

The huge turn-out of enthusiastic attendees was overwhelming. The event began with a crisp introduction where the band affirmed its stand with JNU in its struggle. “In times of crisis we extend our support to JNU with our songs and poems of support and strength by eminent poets in past. The world today needs it” said Sarmistha, lead vocalist of Urban Folk. Perhaps this was what was required, a fresh bout of inspiration from the poets of revolution, after a hectic day of discussions, debates, rants and sloganeering.

The first song was a poem by Faiz called “Chopin ka nazma bajata hain” (Symphonies of Chopin plays) followed by other famous compositions. With the audience joining in the chorus, keeping tune with their claps and participating whole-heartedly as they sang and hummed along, the spirit in the auditorium was infectious. Later, after the program ended and we crossed the massive crowd vigilant outside the Admin Block, Gorakh Pandey’s amusing yet resonating words on what happens when determined men and women get together for a cause came back to us. It is difficult to restrain yourself:

Hille le jhakjhor duniya,
Janta ki chale paltaniya,
Deh gae rajwade, deh gae maharajwa,
Rani kari dhool mein lutaniya,
Hille le Asia re, hille le Amrikwa,
Hille poori jagat ki janata.

(Out of all the songs and poems of Pandey, the essence of this popular litany will be impossible to translate!)

The writer is a JNU student who works for The Informer and has chosen to remain anonymous.



Categories: Arts and culture