Listen: Javed Akhtar on Democracy, Secularism and Dissent

The Quint presents a special podcast of Javed Akhtar’s poem ‘Naya Hukmnama’ on his birthday.

3 min read

In a time when poetry is alleged to be absent from Hindi films’ songs; poets like Sahir Ludhianvi (Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein khayal aata hai) , Kaifi Azmi (Waqt ne kia kya haseen sitam), Shakeel Badayuni (Chaudhavi ka chand ho) , Majrooh Sultanpuri (Khwab ho tum ya koi haqeeqat) are often missed. However, there are two poets whose names are taken in the same breath as these greats’ – Gulzar and Javed Akhtar.

On the occasion of the latter’s birthday, The Quint presents a special podcast of his poem ‘Naya Hukmnama’ (The New Ordinance), and also parts of his farewell speech as an MP, he made in the Rajya Sabha two years ago.

Here is the full poem:

Kisi ka hukm hai saari hawayein

Hamesha chalne se pehle batayein
Ke unki samt kya hai.
Hawaon ko batana yeh bhi hoga
Chalengi jab to kya raftaar hogi
Ke aandhi ki ijaazat ab nahi hai.
Hamari ret ki sab yeh faseelein
Ye kaghaz ke mehal jo ban rahe hain
Hifazat inki karna hai zaruri
Aur aandhi hai purani inki dushman
Ye sab hi jaante hain.

Kisika hukm hai
Dariya ki lehrein,

Zara ye sarkashi kam kar lein apni

Hadd mein thehrein

Ubharna phir bikharna
Aur bikhar kar phir ubharna
Galat hai unka ye hungama karna
Yeh sab hai sirf vehshat ki alamat

Baghavat ki alamat

Baghavat to nahi bardaasht hogi
Ye vehshat to nahi bardaasht hogi
Agar lehron ko hai dariya mein rehna
To unko hoga bas chupchap behna

Kisika hukm hai
Is gulista’n mein
Bas ab ik rang ke hi phool honge
Kuch afsar honge jo yeh tay karenge
Gulistan kis tarha banna hai kal ka
Yaqeenan phool yak-rangi to hongey
Magar ye rang hoga kitna gehra kitna halka
Ye afsar tay karenge.

Kisiko ye koi kaise bataye
Gulistaa’n mein
Kahin bhi phool yakrangi nahi hotey
Kabhi ho hi nahi sakte
Ki har ik rang mein chhupkar
Bahut se rang rehte hain
Jinhone baagh yak-rangi banana chahe thay
Unko zara dekho

Ke jab ik rang mein sau rang zahir ho gaye hain to

woh ab kitne pareshaa’n hain
Woh kitne tangg rehte hain

Kisiko ye koi kaise bataye
Hawayein aur lehrein
Kab kisika hukm sunti hain
Hawayein hakimo’n ki mutthiyo’n mein,

Hathkadi mein qaid-khano mein nahin ruktin

Yeh lehren roki jaati hain
To dariya kitna bhi ho pursukoon

Betaab hota hai

Aur is betaabi ka agla qadam
Sailab hota hai.
Kisiko ko ye koi kaise bataye

-Javed Akhtar


Someone has decreed
That all the winds
Must first
Announce their direction
Before blowing

The winds must first also inform
That when they blow what would be their speed
For, storms are no longer permitted
And all these ramparts that we have built of sand
These paper palaces that have been made
It is important to protect them
The storm is their old foe
As everyone knows

Someone has decreed
That the waves in the river
Must curb their rebellion
They must stay within their limits
Their dashing and rising and dashing yet again
Only to rise
It is wrong of them to be so wilful
It is nothing but a portent of madness
An augury of rebellion

A rebellion will not be tolerated
This madness will not be accepted
If the waves want to stay in the river
They must now flow quietly

Someone has decreed
That all the flowers will henceforth be of one colour
There will be some officers who will decide
How the gardens of tomorrow will take shape

Certainly the flowers will all be of one colour
But how deep the colour or how light
Will be decided by the officers

How is one to tell them
That in no garden anywhere are all the flowers of one colour
They cannot be
For, many colours live together hiding in one colour
Look at the fate of those who have
Tried to make their garden all of one colour
See how a hundred colours have seeped into a single colour
How troubled they are
How worried they look

How is one to tell them
When have the winds and the waves ever heeded anyone’s decree
The winds do not stay
In the clenched fists of the rulers
In prisons
And in handcuffs

When these waves are stopped
The river, no matter how placid
Becomes restless
And this restlessness is a step away
From a flood

How is one to tell them.

(Translated from Urdu by Rakhshanda Jalil)

In a recent interview on Kaifi Azmi’s centenary, Shabana Azmi didn’t think twice before taking her husband’s name on being asked if there is someone she feels capable of carrying Kaifi’s legacy forward.

“You see Javed in many ways shares the same world view like his father Jaan Nisar Akhtar or my father. But what is interesting about Javed is that his expression is completely different. His expression is more modern, which holds himself accountable.”
Shabana Azmi

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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