Sheikh Mohammed Irfan alias Shaukat Pardesi was a known Indian Urdu poet of last century. He was born in 1924 in Malaysia where his father Sheikh Sahib Ali had migrated for living from Maroofpur village of Jaunpur district. Shaukat Pardesi had spent his childhood in material comfort. In 1936, he came to India with his parents and was enrolled in Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow for continuation of his studies. Later on, he was shifted to Mission School in Jaunpur(currently known as Raj College) from where he completed his middle school education. His father Sheikh Sahib Ali could not travel back to Malaysia because of World War II that led to discontinuation of travel between India and Malaysia. As a result, he settled in Jaunpuron permanent basis. In Jaunpur, unfortunately Sheikh Sahib Ali could not succeed in organizing any regular source of income for the family. In January 1943, Shaukat Pardesi was married to Husn aara Begum. In 1944, his mother died, soon after his father and in 1948 his elder sister died. Without any regular source of income and with the responsibility of an unmarried sister, two orphaned nieces, a wife and a son, the personal circumstances of Shaukat Pardesi became too harsh. He tried many things for living but did not succeed. Consequently, he landed up at his father-in-law Hafiz Akhtar Ali’s place who was a known farmer of village Jamdahan in Jaunpur district. Hafiz Akhtar was also a Mukhtar in Jaunpur court. He had only two daughters. The elder daughter was reasonably well settled with her lawyer husband. Thus, Hafiz Akhtar Ali’s own circumstances were such that warranted a supporting hand to look after his farming and wealth. This made the match between Shaukat Pardesi and his father-in-law perfect but for some reason it did not lost long. As a result in 1950, Shaukat Pardesi left Jamdahan and went to Mumbai.
In Mumbai, he lived for 8 years. In 1958, he suffered a serious attack of heart palpitation (Ikhtelaj-e-Qalb) that made him virtually bed ridden and as a result he was left with no option but constrainedly to come back to his father-in-law’s place in Jamdahan:
Aeijaan-e-inbesaat use kyaja waab doon
Ghurbat ye poochti hai ki choraae ghar kahan
After 1958, Shaukat Pardesi spent rest of his life in Jamdahan. He died in October 1995 in Jaunpur out of Cancer and was buried in Jamdahan.
Shaukat Pardesi was a well published poet especially during the period between mid-forties to seventies of last century. He wrote his first ghazal in 1938 whose one verse that he remembered and recorded is as follows:
Ham nasheen ibtedaa-e-ulfat mein
Nazar anjaam par nahin jatee
Shaukat Pardesi’s pen touched almost all categories of Urdu poetry from nazam and geet to ghazal, Qata and rubaaee. His poetries were published in almost every known Urdu journal of his time such as Shair Mumbai, Nerang-e-kheyal Lahore, Shamaa Delhi, Beesween Sadi Delhi, Bano Delhi, Khilauna Delhi, Gagan Mumbai, Naya Daur Lucknow, Pyam-e-Taleem Delhi, Tahreek Delhi, Aajkal Delhi, Jamalistaan Delhi, Shiraaz Karachi, Mashraqi Aanchal Delhi, Saaghar Lahore, Saboohi Lahore, Tabassum Hyderabad, Kahkashaan Mumbai, Shoa-ein Lahore, Mashhoor Delhi, Ittehaad Mumbai, Nikhat Allahabad, and many more.
During his stay in Mumbai, Shaukat Pardesi was associated for a period of time with Urdu daily “Inquilab”. He also acted as Editor of “Film Times Weekly”. For few years, he also published and edited “Munna” an acclaimed monthly Urdu magazine of fifties for children that was supported through their writings by eminent writers like Neyaz Fatehpuri, Aal Ahmed Saroor, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ehtesham Hussain, etc.
Shaukat Pardesi could not publish any of his collection during his life time due to his personal circumstances. However, later on his son Nadeem Ahmad tried to collect his writings whatever he could collect and published them under three titles:
- Tohfa-e-Itfaal: Published in 2010 and contains Shaukat Pardesi’s poems that he wrote for children
- Mizrab-e-Sukhan: Published in 2012 and contains Shaukat Pardesi’s nazams and geets
- Saaz-e-Naghmabaar: Published in 2015 and contains Shaukat Pardesi’s ghazals, qataats and rubaaees
- Mazameen-e-Shaukat: Published in 2015 and contains few of his articles reflecting some aspects his personal life and literary relationships.
Shaukat Pardesi’s book Tohfa-e-Atfaal received Uttar Pradesh Urdu Academy Award in 2014.
Shaukat Pardesi’s association with film industry was limited and relatively unnoticed. He wrote songs for only three films namely “Khubsoorat”, “Ghulam Begum Badshah” and “Shaheed-e-Aazam Bhagat Singh” that were sung by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhonsale. In addition, he wrote dialogues for “Ghulam Begum Badshah” and “Jhansi Ki Rani”.
A number of Shaukat Pardesi’s ghazals and nazams were recorded by HMV in the voices of some of famous singers of his time like Talat Mahmood, Manna Dey, C. H. Atma, AnupJalota, Dilraj Kaur, Shailendra Singh, Shyam Lala and others. In particular, his ghazal“Hairan hoon aei sanam ki tujhe aur kya kahoon” in the voice of Manna Dey got immense popularity.
Select Ashaar (Verses)
Umr bhar apni zindagi se main
Mutmain tha na beqaraar raha
Baaise lutf woh aseeri thi
Baaise ranj ye rehai hai
Ahde Agaaz-e-tamanna bhi mujhe yaad nahin
Mahve hairat hoon ki etna bhi mujhe yaad nahin
Khud who karte hain jise ahde wafa se tabeer
Such to ye hai ki who dhoka bhi mujhe yaad nahin
Na sahi zikr-e-wafa shikwa-e-beja hi sahi
Ham to hain dil se ye khwahanki koi baat chale
Ji mein aata hai ki Shaukat ki si chingaari ko
Kar doon phir shola bad amaan ki koi baat chale
Hai bari kash makash magar phir bhi
Hasrat-e-zindagi to aaj bhi hai
Chup sa kaaks-e-takhayyul se na fitratka hijab
Mujh tak aakar teri tasweer bhi sharmaati hai
Barq ki shola mezaji hai mosallam lekin
Maine dekha mere saye se ye katraati hai
Aalam-e-ghurbat mein bhi khanda labi ko dekhkar
Tum ko Shaukat Paikar-o-sabr-o-raza kahna para
Ye baat tum se koi aur kahna hin sakta
Ye baat dilne kahi hai zara thehar jao
Hawaein rokna paaeein, bhanwar dibona sake
Who ek nao jo azm-e-safar ke baad chali
Zindagi maael-e-hangama kabhi thi shaaed
Ab to harmor se chup chaap guzar jaati hai
Ham dastaan-e-gardishe aalam bane rahe
Apne paraye sab ki nazar se chupe rahe
Adhoora ho ke hoon kitna mukammal
Bashakle zindagi bikhra hua hoon
Tum bhi hans do ki zamaane ka hai dastoor yahi
Koi rakhta nahin girti hui deewar ki laaj