Mirza Ghalib – A biographical scenario – Review

Penned by Gulzar, this biographical book is based on the life and times of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. One might argue that it is actually a detailed narration of the TV Serial which was made by Gulzar.

I won’t disagree entirely but one has to actually read (and not go through) this book to find out what a genius Gulzar sahib is. Do read the first few pages wherein Gulzar has poured his heart out on Ghalib sahib.The life of Ghalib sahib was tragic to say the least. His wife gave birth to 5 children, none survived. He adopted a kid and even that kid passed away.

He was indebted to all the money lenders in Delhi. He was fond of gambling and wine. The book also mentions his love for mangoes. His estate was taken over by the east India Company and till his death, he couldn’t get compensation in lieu of that.Amidst all this, the reader comes across the circumstances under which some of the finest Ghazals were penned by him. In fact, he used to tie a knot in a cloth whenever he came out with a couplet and when he reached home, he used to pen his couplets while untying them. Gem a of a mind eh! His life was plagued by utter disrespect shown to him when he moved to dilli, by the then ‘royal’ poet named Zauq who ensured that Ghalib doesn’t get an audience and used Ghalib’s habits to sabotage his work.

We are also introduced to a singer/dancer called Nawabjaan who was so enamored by Ghalib’s creations that she earned the wrath of an angrezi captain who used to frequent her kotha. She died, waiting to see Ghalib for one last time.Ghalib was very clear not to borrow any money from friends. In fact he remarked to one of his friends (Bansidhar) “There are so many money lenders in the city, why put them out of business?” Ghalib was also very vocal about the ‘divide and rule’ policies of English.

So much so, that he didn’t hesitate to give his piece of mind to the same general who was supposed to decide about Ghalib’s pension. From Delhi, he traveled to Lucknow and Calcutta in a hope of getting some money from the government but had to come back dejected to Dilli and spend his last days there. He was decreed against and had to make 2 trips to Jail as well.

When someone asked him about his days in the jail, he remarked that he had to take 5 lashes daily! When queried further, he smiled and revealed that he had to hear 5 couplets of the hawaldaar daily as he wanted to be a poet too!Ghalib wrote about each and every phase of life and his works have always been a reflection of the turbulent times he lived in. Some may say he was a spoiled human being like Zauq who once remarked:Hoga Koi Aisa Bhi , Ki Ghalib Ko Na JaaneShair Tau Woh Achaa Hai , Par Badnaam Bahut HaiThe fact remains, he was one of THE greatest poet then, and he remains so

Hain Aur bhi duniya mein, sukhanwar bahut achcheyKehtey hain ki Ghalib ka hai, andaz-e-bayan aur..

This is just a petty write up and if you feel there is something wrong with the book, the fault is entirely mine.


One thought on “Mirza Ghalib – A biographical scenario – Review

  1. Well….
    Considering I never missed an episode of this serial when it aired on Doordarshan, I can hardly feel there’s something wrong with this book – this book that such an effortless mashup of a screenplay and a biography.
    However, erm, where’s your review? 🙂
    – alfaazi

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