Eminent Urdu writer and Hindi film lyricist Nida Fazli has died of a heart attack at the age of 78. His poems were sporadically used in songs, best summarised by his own words, “Kabhi Kisi Ko Mukammal Jahan Nahi Milta” (No one gets a complete world), written for the film Ahista Ahista (1981).
Born in Delhi into a Kashmiri family on October 12, 1938, Fazli grew up as Muqtida Hasan in Gwalior, where his father, Dua Dubaivi, was a poet. Fazli did not agree with his father’s politics. During the Partition in 1947, when his family migrated to Pakistan, Fazli, only nine, decided to remain in India.
He later wrote in his autobiographical novel Deewaron Ke Beech (Within Walls) about his father being mesmerised by Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s rousing speeches for Pakistan. Fazli stayed back to listen to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who proposed unity.
Fazli moved to Mumbai in search of work in 1964. He wrote for magazines and published several books. His first collection of Urdu poetry was published in 1969. Writer-director Rajinder Singh Bedi read his book of critical essays on contemporary poets such as Sahir Ludhianvi, Ali Sardar Jafri and Kaifi Azmi, called Mulaqaatein (Meetings) and recommended him for the movie Sweekar (1973). Fazli wrote the dialogues for this film, directed by production designer Sudhendu Roy. The book expressed his disillusion with the poets’ idea of Marxism and so incensed them that he was banned from poetry reading sessions.
The untimely death in 1976 of poet-lyricist Jan Nisar Akhtar, who was writing songs for the long-in-the-making Razia Sultan (1983), lead director Kamal Amrohi to approach Fazli for two songs that needed to be written. Fazli wrote “Tera Hijr Mera Naseeb Hai”, sung by Kabban Mirza, and “Haryala Banna Aaya Re”, sung by Asha Bhonsle and Jagjit Kaur.
The film took a while to be released, but news of his talent got him work from other directors such as Raj Kapoor and Yash Chopra. In 1980, the song “Tu Iss Tarah Se Meri Zindagi Mein”, from the film Aap Toh Aise Na The (1980), topped the charts.
The lesser-known “Khud Se Jo Waada Kiya Tha” was written for Silsila (1981) and sung by Yash Chopra’s wife, Pamela. It was not included in the film. However, Chopra made him write for two other movies produced by his banner, Nakhuda (1981) and Vijay (1988).
Director Mahesh Bhatt sought Fazli for his films in the 1990s. The song “Ghar Se Masjid”, sung by Sonu Nigam for Tamanna (1997), is suffused with the imagery of communal harmony. Some fundamentalists were irked by lyrics that suggested that instead of offering prayers, one should take care of a crying toddler.
Not one to be cowed down, Fazli continued to write in the same vein. In a 2014 interview, he said, “My God dwells in a child’s laughter.”
Fazli also collaborated with ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh on several albums. In 2013, Fazli was conferred with a Padma Shri honour for his contribution to the arts.