Poet, Lyricist Kaifi Azmi and His Creations

Poet, Lyricist Kaifi Azmi and His Creations

Akhtar Hussain Rizvi better known as ” Kaifi Azmi [ কাইফি আজমি ] , An Indian renowned Urdu-speaking poet and writer and a prominent film personality. His poems are rich in social consciousness. Kaifi Azmi was born on 14 January 1919 in a zamindar family Mizwan, a small village in the Azamgarh district, Uttar Pradesh, India. In 1947, he married Shawkat Azmi. His daughter Shabana Azmi is a famous Indian actress. He studied Urdu and Persian literature during his student days. But during the Quit India Movement in 1942 he dropped out of school.

Kaifi Azmi [ কাইফি আজমি ]
Kaifi Azmi [ কাইফি আজমি ]

Kaifi Azmi’s contribution to the liberation war of Bangladesh:

Kaifi Azmi was a renowned poet and film personality during the liberation war of Bangladesh. The persecution of the Bengalis by the Pakistanis in 1971 hurt Kaifi Azmi. He expresses his feelings through poetry. By writing and reciting poems, he helped to form public opinion in favor of the Bengali liberation war.

Awards and honours were given to Kaifi Azmi:

Kaifi Azmi was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India. In 1975, he won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his book of poetry “Awara Sajde”. He was also awarded the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship in 2002. He had earlier received an honorary doctorate from Visva-Bharati University.

Films of Kaifi Azmi:


Aakhri Khat ( 1966 )
Alam Ara ( 1973 )
Alor Pipasa ( 1965 )
Anokhi Raat ( 1968 )
Anupama ( 1966 )
Apna Haath Jagannath ( 1960 )
Arth ( 1982 )


Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi ( 1966 )
Bahu Beti ( 1953 )
Bawarchi ( 1972 )
Bhavna ( 1984 )
Buzdil ( 1951 )


Chor Darwaza ( 1965 )


Dagabaaz ( 1970 )
Deedar-E-Yaar ( 1982 )
Dhoop Chhaon ( 1977 )
Dil Aur Patthar ( 1977 )
Do Boond Pani ( 1971 )
Do Dil ( 1966 )


Ek Alag Mausam ( 2003 )


Faslah ( 1974 )


Garm Hava ( 1974 )
Gyara Hazar Ladkian ( 1962 )


Hamara Adhikar ( 1970 )
Hanste Zakhm ( 1973 )
Haqeeqat ( 1964 )
Hatimtai Ki Beti ( 1955 )
Heer Raanjha ( 1970 )
Hindustan Ki Kasam ( 1973 )
Hum Rahe Na Hum ( 1984 )


Id Ka Chand ( 1964 )
Inspector Eagle ( 1979 )


Lakshmi ( 1982 )
Lala Rukh ( 1958 )


Maa Ka Aanchal ( 1970 )
Maharaja ( 1970 )
Main Azaad Hoon ( 1989 )
Main Suhagan Hoon ( 1964 )
Mere Saath Chal ( 1986 )


Naina ( 1973 )
Nakli Nawab ( 1962 )
Nasihat ( 1986 )
Naunihal ( 1967 )


Pakeezah ( 1972 )
Paper Flowers ( 1959 )
Parwana ( 1971 )
Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayee ( 1993 )
Pravin ( 1957 )


Razia Sultan ( 1983 )
Razia Sultana ( 1961 )
Rivaaj ( 1972 )


Saat Hindustani ( 1969 )
Satyakam ( 1969 )
Shaitan Mujrim ( 1979 )
Shama ( 1961 )
Shankar Hussain ( 1977 )
Shart ( 1986 )
Shola Aur Shabnam ( 1961 )
Sone Ki Chidiya ( 1958 )
Suraag ( 1982 )


Tamanna ( 1998 )
The Fog ( 1964 )


Yahudi Ki Beti ( 1956 )
Yeh Nazdeekiyan ( 1982 )

Rajiv Vijayakar, an Entertainment journalist who interviews stars, filmmakers, music people, writers & technicians in Hindi Cinema, wrote about Kaifi Azmi:

Kaifi Azmi was a rebel since birth, he was expelled from school for forming a students’ union. As per convention, his pen name was made of what he considered himself to be – Kaifi or ‘intoxicated’ and Azmi (from Azamgarh).

Kaifi Azmi [ কাইফি আজমি ]
Kaifi Azmi [ কাইফি আজমি ]
Though he had learnt Arabic and Persian at a madarsa in Azamgarh, he opposed every religious institution and honed his talent as a poet and journalist. Embracing Marxism, Azmi moved to Bombay and started writing for Quami Jung, a Marxist mouthpiece, at a salary of 40 a month. He founded the Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA) along with six other poets, including Sahir Ludhianvi and Jan Nisar Akhtar. The PWA still exists.

Kaifi took to writing lyrics following his marriage to provide for his family. At the time he was staying at the Red Flag communes.

His first film was Buzdil (1951) with S.D. Burman. During this decade, he also scripted several films including Yahudi Ki Beti, Lala Rukh and Idd Ka Chand. But in the ’50s, Kaifi Azmi never really made a commercial mark despite doing films like Sone Ki Chidiya (1958) or even Guru Dutt’s Kagaz Ke Phool (1959), with its cult numbers ‘Waqt ne kiya kya haseen situm’ and ‘Dekhi zamane ki yaari. However, aesthetic consistency was the poet’s hallmark through this long phase.

In the ’60s, Kaifi finally got his due with better set-ups, associates and great film-makers. He wrote songs for Kohra, Haqeeqat, Anupama, Naunihal, Aakhri Khat and Anokhi Raat among others, working with Guru Dutt again in the title-track of his swan song Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi (released in 1966) and with names like Chetan Anand and Hrishikesh Mukherjee and composers like Hemant Kumar and Madan Mohan.

Kaifi Azmi [ কাইফি আজমি ]
Kaifi Azmi [ কাইফি আজমি ]
This was the decade in which Kaifi wrote rousing numbers like Ab tumhare hawale watan saathiyon’ (Haqeeqat in 1966) and ‘Meri awaaz suno (Naunihal in 1967) alongside sumptuous romantic numbers reflecting his passionate personality (he had written love letters in blood to his wife), such as ‘Dheere dheere machal’ (Anupama in 1967) and ‘Hoke majboor mujhe (in Haqeeqat again).

In the ’70s, Kaifi wrote his first script in verse Heer Ranjha – and went on to score new highs with films like Satyakam, Bawarchi, Parwana, Hanste Zakhm, Chhoti Bahu, Toote Khilone and others. He also scripted Garm Hawa, M.S. Sathyu’s landmark film on Partition. Azmi also formed a surprising team with Bappi Lahiri in several films starting with Toote Khilone (1978).

In the ’80s, when Sahir Ludhianvi passed away, Azmi took the onus of completing his films, Deedaar E-Yaar and Lakshmi (both in 1982), along with another of Ludhianvi’s admirers – Indeevar. One song in the former film, Jaana, jaana jaldi kya hai, was even completed by him after Sahir had written a part of it.

The ’80s and ’90s saw the last of Kaifi’s works, including superb numbers in films like Deedaar-E-Yaar itself, Arth, Razia Sultan, Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Ayee and Tamanna. Azmi also acted in a pivotal and much acclaimed role in Naseem (1995) and took to social work in his hometown with missionary zeal after quitting cinema.

Kaifi Azmi [ কাইফি আজমি ]
Kaifi Azmi [ কাইফি আজমি ]
Many of Kaifi Azmi’s songs were like crusades in the direct and trenchant way they spoke of truisms in life and society. His daughter, renowned actor and parliamentarian Shabana Azmi, agrees that his literary background in Urdu and his socialistic beliefs did not allow the romantic side in his songs to be fully explored, or more correctly, recognized.

A rebel to the end, he turned down the Padma Shri but accepted an Doctorate in Literature from Vishwa Bharati University and the Dnyaneshwar award from the Maharashtra Urdu Academy. Despite his agnostic leanings, he had a deep respect for the teachings of all religions. When his cinematographer son Baba wanted to marry actress Tanvi Kiran, a Hindu, Kaifi told Tanvi’s mother, yesteryear actor Usha Kiron, that if she had any objections on religious grounds, he would erect a temple in his house.

Kaifi Azmi passed away on 10 May 2002, a lyricist who is considered among the greatest names despite having a fraction of their output. His last recorded film song ‘Uth meri jaan’ from the 1997 Tamanna was composed by Anu Malik, based on his poem Aurat (which was used in the ’60s film Gyarah Hazaar Ladkiyan too) as ‘Mere mehboob mere saath hi chalna hai tujhe’.

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