Urdu literary icons get a visual makeover with Shiraz Husain's Khwaab Tanha Collective

What happens when you Google images of Urdu poets? Not much, you'll find.

That's where New Delhi based multidisciplinary visual artist Shiraz Husain comes in.

Husain's love for the Urdu language prompted him to come up with a way in which the great poets could be reintroduced to a new generation.

He created a Facebook page — Khwaab Tanha Collective — which literally translates to 'a lonely dream'. The aim is to present the stalwarts of Urdu literature for people who might have not heard about their work. He says about the choice of name, "I believe that the very initial stage of a dream starts or is conceptualised within a single person and than later joined by others."

"The world's second-worst crime is boredom; the first is being a bore," he adds. "And I didn’t want to commit either of them. The clichéd visual imagery of Urdu and Hindi Poetry is something which I wanted to not only break, but also celebrate literary icons in a way that hadn't been done before. Hence, ‘Khwaab Tanha Collective’."

Husain, who is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Fine Art at Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, says about his passion for languages, "Not just Urdu, I love most of the regional languages. I love how they sound and the visual presence of words, how they are imbibed in our culture."

"My Urdu teacher in school told me that 'Shayar aap beeti ko jag beeti banata hai'. I totally agree... Khwaab Tanha has expanded the 'Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb' and influenced people beyond my imagination," he adds.

While Khwaab Tanha has been a solo endeavour thus far, Husain does have plans for how he wants to expand on it in the future. "I have planned to collaborate with musicians and actors. Conceptual artist Shea Hembrey, who creates artwork through fictional characters, has also inspired me a little."

He has also started working on regional poets to widen the scope of the page. "I have already started working on few Bangla poets," Husain tells us. "My friends from Manipur have asked me to cover their regional poets. I do want to work on the Malayalam writers VM Basheer and Kamala Surayya... See ‘Khwaab Tanha ’ is about celebrating our literary legends not just from Urdu and Hindi (literature) but initiating a conversation with other regional languages as well."

Does he have a favourite from among the literary greats he's sketched? Husain says, "When it comes to favourites, the list is endless. Akhtar ul Iman, Khumar, Pash, Sahir, Faiz, Mirza Ghalib to Rabindranth Tagore, VM Basheer, and recently Vinod Kumar Shukla are among the writers and poets I truly adore."

 Urdu literary icons get a visual makeover with Shiraz Husains Khwaab Tanha Collective

Husain's sketch of Firaq Gorakhpuri, who is considered to be one of the most noted contemporary Urdu poets from India.


Husain's sketch of Sadat Hasan Manto.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Husain's sketch of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the Pakistani revolutionary poet who was a Marxist.

Mirza Ghalib

Mirza Ghalib's best work was written in the form of ghazals, masnavi (mystical parable) and qasidah (panegyric).


Pash is one of the major poets of Naxalite Movement.


Ramdhari Singh Dinkar is a Urdu poet.


Sahir Ludhianvi, the famous lyricist and revolutionary Urdu poet.

Godan Premchand

Godan is a Hindi novel by Munshi Premchand, translated into English as The Gift of a Cow.

Updated Date: Jul 30, 2017 11:42:12 IST

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.


COVID-19 Information Centre

  • 24 hrs. helpline no. -
  • +91-11-23978046
  • 24 hrs. toll free no. -
  • 1075


  • Active Cases

  • Total Confirmed

  • Cured/Discharged

  • Total DEATHS

*change over the previous day
Data Source: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India
Updated: Jun 05 (08 AM)
Hospitals & Testing centres


  • Active Cases

  • Total Confirmed

  • Cured/Discharged

  • Total DEATHS

*change over the previous day
Data Source: Johns Hopkins University, U.S. (www.jhu.edu)
Updated: Jun 05 (08 AM)
Hospitals & Testing centres