May 10, 2012 09:51 IST
Today is the tenth death anniversary of poet and lyricist Kaifi Azmi, perhaps most famous for writing the dialogue of Heer Ranjha (1970) entirely in verse.
Born in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, in 1919, Kaifi Azmi wrote and recited his first ghazal aged 11. His father and elder brother then set him to writing a second ghazal as a test, and he did so with so much aplomb that the ghazal was later sung by the legendary Begum Akhtar.
A man of Marxist principles and an early member of the Communist Party of India, Mr Azmi started working in textile mills at 24, but continued writing poetry and attending mushairas. At 28, he met and married actress Shaukat, and had two children with her - Shabana, one of India's most versatile and talented actresses, and Baba, a well known cameraman.
Kaifi Azmi parallel wrote Urdu poetry, often socialist in them, and film lyrics, dialogues and scripts. With directors Bimal Roy and Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, and fellow writers Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri and Jan Nisar Akhtar, Mr Azmi led the new wave of cinema in independent India. His script, dialogue and lyrics for Garam Hawa (1973) was among his most critically acclaimed work. As a lyricist, he wrote for Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Anupama (1966), Pakeezah (1972), Bawarchi (1972) and Arth (1982).
Kaifi Azmi received the Padma Shri, India's highest civilian award. In addition to three Filmfare Awards, he won a National Award for the lyrics of Saat Hindustani in 1970, and the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1975.
He died on May 10, 2002 at the age of 83. He had just received the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship for lifetime achievement.