Rahat Indori took his name from the city he called home. A former professor of Urdu language who went on to be the showstopper at poetry summits and picked up a National Award along the way when he dabbled in cinema, the 70-year-old appealed to the young and old.
Urdu was the man’s first love and his turn of phrase felt at home in the most austere of formal evening audiences, as on Tik Tok videos, with bite-sized renditions of his wit and humour, to make for social media punchlines.
Born on January 1, 1950 in Indore, he was raised and schooled in the city, going onto receive a doctorate in the language from Bhoj university. He ultimately became a well-known and respected figure in the mushaira circles, performing in India and internationally.
Indori’s nazm ‘Sarhadon par bahut tanav hai kya’ and ‘Kisi ke baap ka Hindustan thode hi hai’ particularly emerged as popular anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests, introducing his work to the youth. When Faiz Ahmed Faiz”s revolutionary ‘Hum Dekhenge’ generated controversy, Indori was one of the literary voices to dismiss the allegations as “laughable,” alluding to the famed poet’s atheistic beliefs.
Earlier this year, one of his lesser known poems, “Bulati hai magar jane ka nahin”, which spoke about sacrifice, in its deeply political metaphor, resonated with the youth, but as a sentiment for Valentine’s Day. Perhaps, as much a fitting example of his cross-generational appeal, as the matter of interpretation of Urdu poetry.
With a 50 year-long career in poetry, Indori was known for the lyrics of film songs like ‘Bumbro Bumbro’ from ‘Mission Kashmir’ (2000) and ‘Neend Churai Meri’ from ‘Ishq’ (1997).
He will be remembered by his legions of fans across ages, who spoke to the people in their language, while casting his own unique imprint on it.
Mr. Indori passed away Tuesday from a heart attack, after testing positive for COVID-19.