Majaz, uncle to the famous contemporary lyricist Javed Akhtar, was born in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh in 1909-10. After completing his initial education from Lucknow and Agra, Majaz moved to Aligarh for his higher studies. He completed his graduation from Aligarh Muslim University in 1936. This was the same era when Aligarh Muslim University was swept by the progressive writers’ movement. It was pretty evident that Majaz got impressed and influenced by the progressives. It was here that he started composing his initial poetries. To know more about Majaz, continue to read this insightful biography on him.
It was known that Majaz was head over heels in love with a woman but she got married to some other guy and it caused Majaz a huge emotional setback. He could not get married or even be associated with any woman. He remained unmarried for the rest of his life and all of his poetry is said to have been influenced by his heartbreak. During the time when he was studying in the Aligarh University, he got extremely famous amongst the women there; mainly because of his charming personality and romantic writing. It was famous that women in his university used to take part in a lucky draw in order to settle down the conflict of who will keep Majaz’s Ghazal book underneath her pillow for the night. His associate and Urdu litterateur Ismat Chugtai used to tease Majaz on the matter of being loved so dearly by women around him. To this he once famously remarked, “But they get married to rich people”. Once, a highly popular Bollywood actress called Nargis Dutt payed him a visit on one of her stays in Lucknow. She met him and got his autograph in her dairy. Majaz wrote a few lines on her, getting inspired by her demeanor and her white scarf––Terey mathey par yeh anchal khoob hai lekin, tu iss anchal se ek parcham bana leti toh achcha tha.
After completing his graduation from AMU he joined All India Radio but after differences with Pitras Bukhari he left his job. What followed was a long stint of alcoholism and self-destruction. It was also catalyzed by the failed love life. In the mean while he founded 'Naya Adab', the progressive mouthpiece of that era. He was also associated with Harding Library Delhi. Majaz was one of the founders of the Progressive Writers Movement. He did believe in revolution, but he was by temperament a romantic person. He never advertised revolution in his poems but sang sweet songs of love and romance that matched his personality. This is the reason; he has been termed 'Keats of India'.
When he started writing poetry in Aligarh, he became a hit amongst the literary crowd there. All the literati of Aligarh started seriously admiring and respecting his work. He also composed a beautiful anthem for the Aligarh University––Yeh mera chaman, hai mera chaman, main apne chaman ka bulbul hun.
He was a poet of love and revolution, but preferred to write mostly on love. By genre, he can be classified as a poet of Nazam. But most of them were not in free verse as customary. His Nazam maintained all parameters of the Ghazal. His most famous Nazam is Awara, which is considered one of the best Urdu Nazam ever written. His first poetry collection 'Aahang' was published in 1938 it was followed by Shab-e-taab in 1945 and Saaz-e-nau in 1945. He was taken to the habit of drinking alcohol so much so that he lost control over his mind once and was admitted in a mental asylum. It was mainly because of the sadness and depression that he went through in his life. Majaz died of Liver Cirrhosis in the year 1955. He was found dead in a bar in Lalbagh, Lucknow. He left a vacuum in the Urdu Poetry.
An organization in Lucknow called the Let’s Unite for Culture Knowledge Nationalism and Objective Welfare Society, organized an evening on 24 October 2011, on the occasion of Majaz’s 100th birthday, dedicated to Majaz, his work and his life. It was called Subh-e-Nau, which is one of the beautiful creations of Majaz. In this event various members of the Urdu literature community took place and recited Majaz’s poetry, to honor him. Majaz also has a postage stamp dedicated to him, in his honor, released on 28 March 2008. His famous work––Ae Gham-e-Dil Kia Karoon, Ae Wahshat-e-Dil Kia Karoon was sung by Talat Mehmood for a Himdi movie. This was one of the earliest efforts to convert Urdu literary poems into Hindi songs. A lot of soundtracks from Kehkashan, a popular television series by Ali Sardar Jafri––also a friend of Majaz’s, were poems of Majaz sung by the famous Ghazal singer Jagjit Singh. This television series was also loosely based on the life of Majaz’s.