The year-long celebrations of poet Kaifi Azmis centenary birth anniversary began on Tuesday with a seminar on him here, with his daughter and actor Shabana Azmi, poet-lyricist Javed Akhtar and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia remembering Kaifi Azmi and his rich output.
"When we remember Kaifi Azmi, we remember the movement of progressive writers who said that art is a medium of social change and justice. The time was such when the writer wrote, it had a motive. He was connected to the public, and to life. He used his pen for the betterment of society's betterment," Shabana Azmi said during her brief speech at seminar "Jashn-e-Kaifi".
It was organised by Urdu Academy, Department of Art, Culture and Languages of the Delhi government at the Triveni Kala Sangam here.
The noted actor also invoked the contributions of writers contemporaneous to Kaifi, some being Ali Sardar Jafri, Jan Nisar Akhtar (Javed Akhtar's father), Sahir Ludhianvi, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, and Shailendra.
"The circumstances we see today, it's important we remember these people again. As a father, I've taken Kaifi sahab for granted, just like children do, but as a 'shayar', his many poems inspire me. Despite being written 70 years ago, Kaifi wrote of women's equality."
Sisodia, who handles the art, culture and languages portfolio, also remembered the timeless "Kar Chale Hum Fida" songwriter and spoke of the bigger role artists have in society.
"Artistes and art-culture events should be part of a bigger script. When society surrenders to crime, bullying, mercilessness and power, then the writer and 'shayar' challenges its self-respect," the Minister said.
"The writer gives voice to the society's struggle, which then resonates and becomes society's own. The writer triggers and supports the voice until it becomes a movement and people take to the streets," he added.
Sisodia also recalled the role of writers from the time of India's independence, and even after it, "whenever governments went unchecked".
The event saw the presentation of eight Urdu papers being presented on Kaifi Azmi, and Sisodia proposed their compilation and dissemination in schools, universities and language departments.
Part of the celebrations, the famous play "Kaifi Aur Main" -- written by Javed Akhtar -- which narrates his life and times, will be staged on Wednesday at the Kamani Auditorium here on Wednesday evening. Entry is free.
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