“Kuchh toh vaise bhi rangeen hai lab o rukhsaar ki baat
Aur kuchh khoon e jigar hum bhi mila dete hain”
An evening spent reveling in the wit, repartee and poetry that floated in the fiza of Aligarh. A scintillating evening to commemorate the 13th death anniversary of Prof A A Suroor entitled “Prof A A Suroor and the Aligarh School of Poetry and Criticism” witnessed a stimulating discussion with Professor Tahir Mahmood, Professor Sadiqur Rahman Kidwai and Professor Pervaiz Alam, moderated by Saif Mahmood and hosted by Dr Rakhshanda Jalil at Oxford Bookstore, New Delhi.
Poet, critic, scholar, stalwart. Ale Ahmad Suroor was the grand old man of not just Urdu adab but all of Urdu Tehzib. His death at the ripe old age of 91 years on 9 February 2002 had left a void in the world of Urdu letters.
Pervaiz Alam, Professor and dean at Appejay school of journalism, introduced the evening and showed two audio clips of an interview he had done with Prof Suroor over 15 years ago when he was with the BBC. The interviews have not been aired before. In the two clips Suroor sahib is heard talking about himself, his views on poetry, etc. In the second clip he is talking about Iqbal, the dualities in Iqbal’s vision, and how he disagrees with some of Iqbal’s views and positions, especially Iqbal’s views on women.
The panel discussion was moderated by Saif Mahmood, lawyer, with Prof Tahir Mahood, jurist and litterateur and Prof S R Kidwai, secretary, Ghalib Institute. The panel spoke about the importance of Aligarh in the intellectual and cultural life of India, the role of teachers such as Prof Suroor in shaping the lives of countless men and women, including Prof Tahir Mahmood and Prof Kidwai who had both studied in Aligarh and benefited from the insights of liberal teachers such as Prof Suroor.
The panel also explored whether there was indeed such as academia as the Aligarh school of poetry since Aligarh has known several shifts and movements. The panel concluded with the acknowledgement that one person such as Prof Suroor — given his vast learning and reading — the fact of him being in academia indeed influenced his writings. The discussion was interspersed with readings from Prof Suroor’s poetry by Saif Mahmood.
The event was organized by Hindustani Awaaz (HA) — an organization devoted to the popularization of Hindustani literature and culture — in collaboration with the Oxford bookstore in Connaught place. Rakhshanda Jalil has been running HA since 2002.