Noted Urdu writer-critic Shamsur Rahman Faruqi passes away | India News
PRAYAGRAJ/ NEW DELHI: Accomplished Urdu litterateur Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, who wrote the sweeping and celebrated novel Kai Chand Thhey Sar-e-Aasmaan, who brought out the seminal literary magazine Shabkhoon, and who was central to the revival of dastangoi, passed away on Friday. He was 85.
Faruqi had tested positive for the novel coronavirus last month in Delhi. “After treatment he was fine but he developed fungal infection in one of his eyes. As his condition worsened, he kept asking to go home. Finally he arrived in the city by air ambulance on Friday. He breathed his last just half an hour after reaching home,” said his brother, N R Farooqui.
Pratapgarh-born Faruqi’s works traversed languages and genres. He was a critic, a theorist, a novelist, and more. He was regarded as an expert in Ilm-e-Bayan (the science of poetic discourse). “He had an equal command over Urdu, Persian and English,” said Ali Ahmad Fatmi, who taught Urdu at Allahabad University.
Faruqi had a master’s in English literature from the same university. A former bureaucrat in the Indian Postal Service, his voluminous work on the 18th century Urdu poet Meer Taqi Meer earned him the Saraswati Samman award. Renowned Urdu poet Munawwar Rana said that “in the past 50 years, Urdu literary criticism had two major schools: Gopi Chand Narang and Shamsur Rahman Faruqi.”
He also published Shabkhoon magazine, which gave a new direction to modern Urdu poetry, for four decades. “At one time, if you were seen carrying a copy of the magazine, you were regarded as educated. If you hadn’t been published in Shabkhoon (literally meaning night attack), you weren’t regarded as an Urdu poet,” says Rana.
Faruqi had translated his magnum opus, Kai Chand Thhey Sar-e-Aasman, into English some years ago. Published as The Mirror of Beauty, the novel was received with acclaim and expanded his readership. Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk called it “an erudite, amazing historical novel”. Based on the life of Wazir Khanum, the mother of Urdu poet Dagh Dehlvi, the novel was a grand romp through the life and times of the dying Mughal Empire. “The novel should be translated into every language in the world and read by every Indian,” says Rana.
A Padma Shri recipient, Faruqi helped revive dastangoi, the medieval oral storytelling art form. Few know that he also translated into English the detective fiction of Ibn-e-Safi. Safi, who was born in Allahabad and migrated to Pakistan, was originally published from the same city that Faruqi made his home.
Allahabad-based writer and family friend Neelum Saran Gour remembered Faruqi as a man of great taste and aesthetics. “He loved gardens, flowers. His courtyard was full of birds. His daughter once told me he cared for his birds himself. He was quick witted and comprehensive in his knowledge. A whole culture was contained in his life and work.” she said.
Gour also pointed out that Allahabad has produced many great writers in Hindi and Urdu: Akbar Allahabadi, Mahadevi Verma, Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala’, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, and many more. “He was one of the last bastions of that world. Faruqi Saab was the grand patriarch of Urdu letters. With his demise, a world has slipped away,” she said.