Tragedy inspired Majaz's greatest creations
Hum arz-e-vafa bhi kar na sake kuchh keh na sake kuchh sun na sake, yahan humne zaban hi kholi thi, vahan aankh jhuki Sharma bhi gyi – were the words of Asrar Ul Haq Majaz – one of the most progressive poets known for his romantic and revolutionary poetry. A student at Aligarh University, Majaz Lakhnawi had a huge female fan following for his charming Urdu poetry. Even though he failed at exams, Majaz's flair for Urdu poetry never let him down and made him the editor of Aligarh University magazine. Later, he was offered a position as assistant editor of Awaaz – an All India Radio journal in Delhi. But moving to Delhi proved to be a turning point in his life. He lost his heart to a married woman in Delhi and dedicated some of his most beautiful and romantic poems of his life to this woman.
Unfortunately, rejection from the love of his life, due to his unemployement, broke his heart. Majaz, a heavy drinker, died alone on a cold winter night of December 5, 1955 in Lucknow.
Even though, many films made attempts to bring back literary poems to film industry with Majaz's shayaris and ghazals, none until now captured the life and struggles of Majaz Lakhnawi.
Majaz (Ae Gham-e-Dil kya karun) is a biopic film on the revolutionary poet and his struggle for existence in his life. The film, which took six years to be released on January 21, has been produced by Dream Merchant Films with three other producers – Dr Madi, Ghazala parveen and Shakeel Akhtar.
"Majaz tries to show the simplicity of relationships and the process of tackling failure in life. You will get to see the pure essence of love, compromise, failure, betrayal and life in this film. We did our best to bring the original ambience related to the characters, costumes, location and the making. The characters in the film have a very close resemblance to the real characters that existed. To keep the feel of the film as real as possible, we shot in Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Lucknow, Aligarh, Delhi and Mumbai after arduous research work", says writer-producer Shakeel Akhtar.
Since Majaz's death, volumes have been written on his poetic output. A plethora of seminars and commemorative programs have been organised to evaluate and glorify his contribution to Urdu literature, but Majaz as a person remains shrouded in a mist of myths and legends. Majaz (Ae Gham-e-dil kya karun), with great effort and teamwork tries to bring the poet alive in the hearts and minds of people.
"This story shows different shades of Majaz with his earnings and sufferings. The main theme of the story is the romanticism with a triangular twist that slivers the life of Majaz and the people close to him. I have tried to portray the problems of unemployment, love and family with this film", says Shakeel.
When asked how the younger generation will be able to relate to Majaz and learn something from it, Shakeel said, "Making the film was a challenge in itself. What we have tried to portray in this film is not just for the people in their 50s. Instead, this film would be enjoyed by the youger generation too.
The film's music is what will hold the audience and will bury in their hearts forever. The youngsters listen to Pakistani sufi and when they listen to the music, they don't really understand the lyrics, they just listen to the music but with Talat sahab, Sonu ji and Alka Yagnik's music, we are trying to tell them what real music is.
There are many romantic stances in the film which will aspire the younger generation. I don't blame this generation if they don't like such films; it is our fault that such deep meaning movies are not made anymore. Where do you see films like Pakiza, Mughal-e-aazam? If we don't make such movies, how will people get an idea about such deep movies"?
The film's music has its own uniqueness – with ghazal maestro Talat Aziz as the music director, the music is sure to be in the playlist of every passionate music lover. And it's not just Talat Aziz who is lending his sedative voice to Majaz; Sonu Nigam and Alka Yagnik have also contributed in the soundtrack of the film.
When asked about the cost that went into making a biopic, Shakeel said, "When a biopic is made in the 21st century, it is normal that it will cost a lot.
From costumes to locations, everything took thorough research. I don't know the exact cost that went into making this film but yes, a lot has been spent till now. And as far as the demonetisation effect is considered, we are no different from the rest of the nation. We had enormous support from our crew members during that phase, it was extremely nice of them to say, 'Sir, you can pay us when you have cash'.I would like to thank all the crew members and the union for that".
Majaz was meant to be released in the month of August-September, 2016 but it didn't for some unforeseen reason. On this, Shakeel Akhtar said, "Because it is a periodical film, it requires some post-production work after its shot. We first screened the film for Vice President of Inida, Hamid Ansari and soon realised that if it needs to be projected at a global level, then we need to do some post-production work to it. There was some VFx problem that we had to face along with the demonetisation problem. So, we delayed the release of the film".
Majaz has been lauded by Mohammad Hamid Ansari who viewed it in a special screening. Majaz has also been awarded subsidy by the UP government.
It is common knowledge that making a biopic is much more risky than a commercial film, in terms of profits. Even after this the producers and director went on with the production of the film.
"We did not make this film just to make profits. Even though this film will be released worldwide, aur 4 paise aaenge zaroor but this money won't have any value to me," said Shakeel.
Rashmi Mishra, who plays the love interest of Majaz in the movie had to practice and prepare for almost every scene because of Urdu dialogues, she said, "It was a challenging experience for me. Shakeel sir and Ravinder sir helped me throughout the film with the urdu dialogues. The movie portrays a deep meaning of love. When asked of her personal opinion on Majaz, she said, "According to me, Majaz was an amazing shayar. Unki aankho mein kuch alag hi kashish thi".
By the looks of the trailer, the movie takes you back to the early 50s. Ravindra Dhingra, who helmed Majaz (Ae Gham-e-dil ka kya karun) shared his experince of bringing back the lost times.
"I won't say that this was an easy film. I have known Shakeel ji for 15-20 years and i believe that he has been thinking about making a biopic on Majaz since his university days but never said anything. I believe, with this movie, people will know something about Majaz Lakhnawi because if you ask anyone now, no one would be able to tell you about him.
The biggest problem with me was Urdu, so, i spent some time with Shakeel sahab to learn the language. And this is a period film, there were no swift and maruti cars at that time, so we had to be extremely particular about our locations. It was a difficult job to manage old-era costumes, hairstyles and locations". With many years of research work on the script of the film. Majaz pays tribute to the shayar and dispells the myths about his life.