Indore: Famous Urdu poet Rahat Indori, whose powerful and lucid poetry filled halls and connected with the young and old alike, died of a heart attack at a hospital here on Tuesday while being treated for COVID-19, his son said. He was 70.
The teacher-turned-poet had been admitted to hospital on Tuesday morning after he tested positive for the disease. He is survived by three sons and a daughter. “He was admitted for coronavirus treatment but died after suffering a heart attack,” son Satlaj Indori, also a poet, said. Indore District Collector Manish Singh said Indori was undergoing treatment at the Sri Aurobindo Institute of Medical Sciences. In the morning, the lyricist-poet tweeted about his Covid-19 diagnosis and said he will keep everyone updated through social media. “After initial symptoms of COVID-19, my corona test was done yesterday which came out positive. Pray that I defeat this disease as soon as possible,” Indori said in what would be his last post. With a 50-year career in poetry, Indori, an Urdu scholar of great repute, was one of the biggest mushaira (poetry symposiums) stars in the country and someone who fearlessly called a spade a spade.
The wordsmith that he was, Indori translated the mood of the nation in his poetry that was emotive, direct and political. Attacking religious divide and jingoism, Indori famously wrote, “Sabhi ka khoon shaamil hai yahan ki mitti mein, kisi ke baap ka Hindustan thodi hai” (Everone’s blood is mingled in this earth. Hindustan is no one’s property). The lines were used on posters and banners during the anti-CAA protests, pushing him to almost cult status.
Indori was that rare poet who was easily connected with the young generation. In fact, his lines, delivered in a trademark rousing style, almost teasing as it were, were very popular with Tik-Tok users and those who did not even care for or understand Urdu poetry. Earlier this year, his poem “Bulati hai magar jane ka nahi” went viral on social media, making him a sensation among the youth.
Memes using the poem’s opening lines flooded social media during Valentine’s Day. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi bid farewell to Indori Sahab” with a couplet — “Ab na main hoon na baaki zamane mere. Fir bhi Shehron me mashhoor hain fasane mere” (Neither me nor my era exists, but my stories are still famous in the cities). Historian and author Rana Safvi termed his death a “huge loss to a fearless voice and to the world of poetry”. In fellow poet Gulzar’s view, Indori was the soul of a mushaira. “Mushaira loot ke le gaye’ is a saying in Urdu. Toh Rahat saab mushairon ke lootere the (he stole the thunder at symposiums). “People of all ages used to wait for his turn at mushairas. One mostly comes across romantic shers in mushairas, but all his work that he read was about the sociopolitical and contemporary climate,” Gulzar said.
Lyricist-writer Javed Akhtar called Indori’s death “an irreparable loss” to contemporary Urdu poetry and society at large. “Like Habib Jalib, he was from the fast disappearing tribe of poets who are never short of courage to call a spade a spade,” Akhtar said. Lyricist Varun Grover called him a “rockstar of the Indian literary world” and prince of the “mushaira” tradition.
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