Kabhi kisi ko muqammal jahan nahin milta, poet Nida Fazli famously wrote for the film Ahista Ahista.
The poet-philosopher, who passed away on Monday at the age of 78, was a living embodiment of the immortal song rendered poignantly by Asha Bhonsle and Bhupendra.
Life's vagaries, trials and tribulations never ceased to interest Nida Fazli. The wonder that is life, duniya, was both his pet muse and peeve.
"Duniya jise kehte hain, jadoo ka khilona hai; Mil jaaye to mitti hai, kho jaaye to sona hai," he mused in a couplet that went on to become the signature ghazal of the Jagjit-Chitra era of music.
Like many other poets and artists of his age, Nida Fazli's was influenced by his early life and childhood trauma of Partition. Fazli, real name Muqtida Hasan, was from a family of Kashmiri Muslims that had later shifted to Delhi. During the Partition, his family decided to migrate to Pakistan. Fazli, who was just nine then, decided to stay back in India. But all his life the pain of separation and loneliness found expression in his poetry.
And he never agreed with the Partition, remaining its lifelong critic and opponent of communal, divisive politics.
It was to reflect later in his musings that were poignant insights into the heart of man who had lost a lot and come to terms with it with the sang-froid of a philosopher, without complaining. "Jise bhi dekhiye woh apne, aap mein gum hai, zubaan mili hai magar hamzubaan nahin milta; Bujha saka hai kaun bhala waqkt ke sholay, ye aise aag hai jisme dhuaan nahin milta."
Bhopal-based journalist Shams ur Rehman Alavi met Nida Fazli several times during the past few years. He says the poet was so well read that he could quote Kabir, Meera, Ghalib, Amir Khusro, Russian writers and Latin poets with equal ease. All of them influenced his oeuvre.
Fazli was born in an age when shayars were the biggest celebrities in India. Saahir Ludhianvi, Kaifi Aazmi and Jan Nisaar Akhtar attracted big crowds at mushairas and had a huge following among men and women. (Yash Chopra's Kabhie, Kabhi, loosely inspired by Ludhianvi's poetry and life, captures the defining mood of the era).
So, after struggling in wilderness in Gwalior and Bhopal, Fazli shifted to Mumbai in the 60s to try his luck in cinema and popular culture. His early life in Mumbai was to teach him valuable lessons about being in a city where success depends not just on your ability and talent.
So, he wrote:
Baat kam kije jahanat ko chhipate rahiye
Ajnabi shehar hai ye, dost banate rahiye;
Dushmani lakh sahi, khatam na kije rishta
Dil mile na mile, haath milate rahiye.
His big break in Bollywood came in the 80s when lyricist Jan Nisaar Akhtar died midway during the production of Razia Sultan. The film's producer signed Nida Fazli to write two songs -- Tera Hijr Mera Naseeb Hai and Hariyala Banna Aaya -- for the period film after Akhtar's death.
Around the same time, his songs for two more films went on to become chart-toppers, primarily because of their poignant poetry and silken, lyrical grace. These were Ahista, Ahista and Aap To Aise Na The, whose song Tu Is Tarah Se Meri Zindagi Mein Shaamil Hai, is a cult classic.
In later years, Fazli's songs for Sarfarosh, Hosh Walon Ko Khabar Kya, Sur, Aa Bhi Jaa, and Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin received critical appreciation and success.
Nazakat and Nafast, two words that have no parallel in any other language, were the hall mark of his lyrics. If you listen to his songs, full of erudition, philosophy, finesse, and literary refinement, you would feel somebody is running a feather through your hair, while you lie close to a silent river on a quiet night.
Like the great Khayyam's music, Nida Fazli's poetry always transports to you a calm, peaceful world where you just ruminate about life and its intricacies.
But, the poet would perhaps be remembered as the heart of Jagjit Singh's ghazals. Singh's repertoire is full of couplets penned by Nida Fazli. Tum Nahin, Gham Nahin, Sharab Nahin and Apni Marzi Se Kahan Apne Safar Ke Ham Hain. The poet died on Jagjit's birthday, underlining a bond that survived beyond life and death.
One incident defines Fazli's life and philosophy. He was once attacked by fundamentalists for writing, 'Ghar Se Masjid Badi Hai Door, Chalo Ye Kar Le, Kisi Rote Hue Bachche Ko Hansaya Jaye. 'for the film Tamanna. When his critics asked him if a child is bigger than Allah, he disarmed them by saying, man builds mosques, but a child is created by Allah.
Long live, Nida Fazli, you will always be around till there is poetry, Bollywood, ghazals and music in this world.
To quote your famous lines: Tu Is Tarah Se Meri Zindagi Mein Shaamil Hai, Jahan Bhi Jaaun Ye Lagta Hai Teri Mehfil Hai.