(Many moons ago the iconic poet and lyricist Rahat Indori told a budding, 16-year-old poet to work hard because he saw potential in the boy. The teenager, now the renowned poet-lyricist Manoj Muntashir, remembers his idol Indori, who passed away on August 11)
BY MANOJ MUNTASHIR
Mumbai, Aug 13 (IANS) It was 1991. Sultanpur. I was around 16 years old. I had just started writing, started learning how to gather and pen my thoughts in the form of poetry. My friends took me to a ‘mushaira’ and put me on stage.
Of course I was nervous. One, I was not confident enough like the way I am today. Also, some respected poets were sitting there including Rahat Indori. I recited what I wrote and came down from the stage. Rahat saab came to me, and said: “Tum kaafi theek likhte ho, thoda aur mehnat karo, tum achha likhoge (you write quite alright, work harder, you will write well).”
Two months ago, Rahat saab tweeted me: ‘Manoj Muntashir, aap achha likh rahe hai aajkal (you are writing well these days)’. I was so happy, of course! I wrote him back, saying: ‘Sir, I am that boy whom in Sultanpur you said to work hard. See Sir, I am working hard enough that today even you liked me’.
I think Rahat saab was not a poet, he was a performing artiste. He took poetry to a different level altogether and with his demise, it is the end of an era.
Just as there is no replacement of Sahir Ludhianvi, there will be no Rahat saab again. I do not believe that talents are like clouds that come and go, and that every season we get one.
Today, when someone praises my work, I at times feel scared and the question that crosses my mind is, did they hear Rahat saab’s poetry? Back in the day, there was no such publicity as it happens today.
Rahat saab was a star, who came, enlightened us and left us with his talent, and a lot of memories.
He influenced me in many ways — his lyrics, poetry, and books. I can recite so much of his poetry. But right now, the line that is crossing my mind is, ‘Chand paagal hai andhere mein nikal padta hai’.
(As told to Arundhuti Banerjee)