This Anglo-Urdu poet is a bundle of wit

Mirza Mustafa Ali Baig stands out among the contemporary humorous poets as he sees a funny angle in every facet of life

By Author  |  Published: 18th Aug 2019  12:44 amUpdated: 17th Aug 2019  10:11 pm

Man knows how to cry from birth, but laughter takes some learning. But, in his case it seems to be the other way round. A born optimist, he knows how to cock a snook at the vicissitudes of life. However grave the situation might be, he discovers a funny angle to it and makes light of the whole mater. If you don’t learn to laugh at trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you grow old. That’s what he believes in. And, therefore, it is impossible to be with him and yet not have some of his sprightliness rubbed on you.

Stage artiste, actor and humorous poet, Mirza Mustafa Ali Baig comes across as a bundle of wit. As a mizahiya shayer, he is a cut above the rest since he is the only poet in Hyderabad to practise Anglo-Urdu shayeri. Interspersing Urdu poetry with a generous dose of English words is his forte. He uses words like ‘impossible, you don’t know, tension, make-up, connection, etc.,’ to great effect. Urdu equivalents of these words will not have the same impact. Sample these verses:

Tu jo hara hai election all right
Paida karle new connection all right
Hain minister assi (80) assi saal main
Hum ko atthavan (58) main pension all right

Baig doesn’t have any pretensions of writing literature. Yet, his shayeri has both the masses and the classes go ga-ga over it. He uses simple day-to-day language to express himself. This is, perhaps, why his poetry has a wider appeal. The liberal use of English words has brought him international repute.

Ye aarzoo hai dil-e-beqarar main
Petrol ki tarha jaloon unki car main
Honest khud ko pose kare bhi to kya huva
Rishwat ki bu to aane lagi hai dakar main

Baig has the reputation of ‘looting’ mushairas. When he recites verses in his inimitable style, a wave of laughter sweeps the hall. After listening to him, the audience is generally in no mood to listen to any other poet. And this is why mushaira organisers invite him in the end not to hurt the ego of other serious poets.

From where did he get this funny trait? “Humour and satire are in my blood. Right from childhood, I have this habit of closely observing people and imitating their mannerism,” says Baig. While doing Intermediate at City College, he presented a skit ‘auction’ in which he targeted some of his teachers. He carried this hobby to Osmania University where he did his BSc. But, gradually Baig turned his talent into poetry. In 1957, he got an opportunity to take part in a humorous mushaira conducted by the All India Radio. Here, he read out his first Anglo-Urdu ghazal and it was a roaring success:

Un se meri jo fight hoti hai
Dushmanon ki delight hoti hai
Love ko jo blind kehte hain
Unki khud short sight hoti hai

In writing Anglo-Urdu poetry, Baig was influenced by the eminent poet, Akbar Allahabadi. Humorous poetry, he feels, is the most effective medium of conveying a message. What can’t be told in long-drawn speeches can be effectively summed up in just two lines. At a mushaira held on the topic of ‘AIDS’, he had a field day.

Romeo tum ban gaye jiske liye
AIDS hai usko magar you don’t know
Ishq bhi ab ban gaya cricket ka game
Bewafa ka bouncer you don’t know

Baig, who retired as general manager of the State Warehousing Corporation, has travelled to London, US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan regaling people with his special brand of poetry. He also acted in two Hindi serials – Hansi Ka Safar and Adhikar. His play Maran Brath broadcast by AIR under its Hawa Mahal programme was a big hit.

A founder member of Zinda Dilane Hyderabad, Baig’s book – I Am Sorry – was published in 1993 while his second book, Never Mind, is in the pipeline. Though his poetry is full of humour, tucked away in it is the inevitable message. Baig has always been alive to the happenings around him and this is reflected in his verses. Touched by the communal riots which rocked Hyderabad quite often in the past, he wrote thus:

Life and death bhi ho gaya game
Really it is a matter of shame
Ram kahoon ya kahoon Rahim
Qatil puch raha hai name

No oddity in life or idiosyncratic situation escapes his caustic humour. Once, when the city was under curfew for a prolonged period, Baig visualised the plight of lovers caught in the clampdown and wrote:

Mil rahi hai subko ek jaisi saza
Jail se jo bach gaya, curfew main hai
Darde dil ki dawa curfew main hai
Aajkal Darulshifa curfew main hai
Ek helicopter dilade aye Khuda
Unke ghar ka raasta curfew main hai

Baig hits out at social evils in his own inimitable way. On the dowry menace, he says:

Samdhi ne list mangi hai hum se jehez ki
Shaadi bhi aaj beti ka tender dikhai de

He has a special verse for politicians who take people for a ride:

Lutne ka risk hai mujhe donon ke haath se
Daku behind me hai to neta before me

Many of Baig’s poems have been copied by Bollywood filmmakers. The popular song Meri marzi is actually taken from his poem which goes like this:

Pyar ki road pe jab aaye speed breaker
Gear muhabbat ka badloonga meri marzi
Vote ki mujh se hope na rakhna Mr. Leader
Abke behja use karoonga meri marzi

The increasing incidents of harassment and abduction of women also figure in his poetry. He talks about this serious menace in a funny manner:

Ek hasina ko lonely pakar
Manchalon ne pakad liya usko
Phir suddenly wo chhod kar bhage
Jab kaha unse AIDS hai mujhko

For the last half-a-century, Baig is regaling Urdu lovers all over the world. Of late, he is making waves on YouTube also. What makes him tick is his originality of humour coupled with his facial expression and unique recital. The judicious mix of English-Urdu words only adds to the appeal.

Why doesn’t he try his hand at serious poetry? Pat comes the reply:

Sanjeeda sher kehna to mushkil nahin magar
Tanz-o-mizah usmain milana hai problem

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