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Jan Nisar Akhtar
--: Biography of Jan Nisar Akhtar :--




Jan Nisar Akhtar;( February 14, 1914 - 19 August 1976) was an important 20th century Indian poet of Urdu ghazals and nazms, and a part of the Progressive Writers' Movement, who was also a lyricist for Bollywood .

In his career spanning four decade during which he worked with distinguished music composers like C. Ramchandra, O.P. Nayyar, N Dutta and Khayyam writing about 151 songs, notable among them were songs from his breakthrough film AR Kardar's Yasmin (1955), Aankhon hi Aankhon Mein in Guru Dutt's C.I.D. (1956), Yeh dil aur unki nigahon ke saaye in Prem Parbat (1974) and Aaja re in Noorie (1979) and his last unforgettable song Ae Dil-e-naadaan in Kamal Amrohi's Razia Sultan (1983).
His notable poetry works include, Nazr-e-Butaan, Salaasil, Javidaan, Pichali Pehar, Ghar Angan and "Khaak-e-dil" (The Ashes of Heart"), a poetry collection for which he was awarded the 1976 Sahitya Akademi Award .

He was born in 1914, in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India, into a family of Sunni theologians, scholars and poets. His father Muzter Khairabadi was poet as was his father's elder brother, Bismil Khairabadi, while his great grandfather, Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, a scholar of Islamic studies and theology, notably edited the first diwan of Mirza Ghalib on his request, and later became an important figure during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 in his native Khairabad.

Jan Nisar passed his matriculation from Victoria Collegiate High School, Gwalior, and in 1930 joined Aligarh Muslim University, from where he did his B.A. Honours and M.A. degree, and started his doctoral work, but had to return to Gwalior due to family conditions.

On his return, he joined Victoria College, Gwalior as an Urdu Lecturer. Meanwhile in 1943, he married Safiya Siraj-ul Haq, also an alumnus of AMU, and the sister of poet Majaz Luckknawi, their two sons, Javed and Salman were born in 1945 and 1946 respectively. Post-independence riots in Gwalior forced him to shift base to Bhopal, where he joined the Hamidia College as Head of Department of Urdu and Persian, later Safiya also joined the college. Soon they became part of the Progressive Writers' Movement and subsequently he was made its president.

In 1949, he resigned from his job, moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) to write lyrics for Urdu/Hindi movies besides ghazals and nazms for general publication. Once in Bombay, he came in touch with other progressive writers, like Mulk Raj Anand, Krishan Chander, Rajinder Singh Bedi and Ismat Chugtai, who often met at Bombay's Silver Fish Restaurant, and subsequently came to be known as 'Bombay Group of Writers' [8]. Success came his way quite late as a film lyricist, till then he was supported by his wife who had stayed back in Bhopal, though she died prematurely of cancer in 1953. Finally he had a career breakthrough, with Yasmeen (1955), with music by C. Ramchandra. His association with Madan Mohan, the music director resulted in many memorable movie songs.[6]. Some of his notable lyrics were, Meri Neendon Mein Tum in Naya Andaz (1956) by Kishore Kumar, Shamshad Begum, Garib Jan Key Hamko Naa Tum Daga Dena sung by Mohd. Rafi in Chhoo Mantar, the hit Piya piya piya... in Baap Re Baap (1955) music by O.P. Nayyar, Aap Yun Faaslon Se by Lata Mangeshkar in Shankar Hussain (1977).
He even wrote and produced a film Bahu Begum (1967) starring Pradeep Kumar and Meena Kumari. During the period of four year to his death he published three collections of his works most important of them being, Khak-e-Dil (The Ashes of Heart"), which has his representative poems from 1935 to 1970, and which won him the Sahitya Akademi Award (Urdu) in 1976.. Jan Nisar was commissioned by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru to collate the best Hindustani poetry of last 300 years, and later the first edition of the book titled Hindustan Hamara (Our Hindustan) in two volumes was released by Indira Gandhi. It contained Urdu verses on a topics, ranging from love and praise for India and its history, to festivals like Holi and Diwali, on Indian rivers like the Ganga, Yamuna and the Himalayas.
He died in Mumbai, India on 19 August 1976, while he was still working on Kamal Amrohi's film, Razia Sultan (1983). He was nominated posthumously for 1980 Filmfare Best Lyricist Award for "Aaja Re Mere Dilbar" from the film, Noorie.

His anthology, Hindustan Hamara was re-released in Hindi in 2006 .
He was the father of lyricist and script-writer Javed Akhtar and psychiatrist and poet Salman Akhtar, Shahid Akhtar, writer and journalist Uneza Akhtar, Albina sharma , grandfather of Farhan Akhtar, Zoya Akhtar, Kabir Akhtar, and Nishat Akhtar, father-in-law of Shabana Azmi and Monisha Nayar, and the ex-father-in-law of Honey Irani and Raj Verma, and connected with the rest of Akhtar-Azmi family.


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