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Asad Jafri: a low-profile but high-caliber poet

ISLAMABAD: To this veteran educationist of South Punjab, lending a song for melodious voice of Jaswinder Singh, heir to legendary maestro Jagjit Singh is no surprise. The low-profile, high caliber poet is being anything but melodramatic. He has lived a quite life, away from the media glare but in polite company of the country’s top men of letters and critics.“When I read his poetry, I see the words appearing before him as salves,” once said the country’s best known literary critique, Anwar Sadeed, about the works of Arad Jafri. His claim to fame in Pakistan may be humorous poetry but Bollywood has fondness for Jafri’s serious, romantic expression. “Bollywood is a place for artists to make money and name but this Pakistani poet had only bagged respect. “The dervish is quite content with it,” said one of Jafri’s close friends.Speaking to the media personnel, he explained his embrace of serious poetry. “You know, a stage comes when you learn to rationalise personal grief and switch between humor and pain co-existing in society.” Like in every great poet’s lyrics, a reader can feel tragic undertones beneath the light-hearted humor. For instance he says: “Ye keh kar ik shakhs ne gurda bech diya, ik gurday se kaam chalaya ja sakta hai”.Richa Sharma, an award-winning best playback singer for her song ‘Mahi ve’ in Kaante’ movie, and ‘Sajda’ in ‘My Name is Khan’ follows Jigjit’s favourite Jaswinder’s suit. Singh has long been a fan of Jafri’s poetry to the extent of keeping in contact with the lyricist. ‘Dil mein sama ke’ has undoubtedly become the highlight of his fresh album ‘Aqs’. This time around, Singh and Sharma teamed up to lend their melodious voices to Asad Jafri’s song ‘Dil mein sama ke’. Though banned in Pakistan, YouTube has received impressive number of views from the music and poetry-lovers.He won countless applauds and fans in the early 1990s, alike for ‘Dil ko roka hai’, sung by Sohrab Khan and filmed on Shan in the movie Anjaam. Jafri believes that Jaswinder Singh’s decision to include his ghazal in ‘Aqs’ is a tribute to the rich poetic tradition of Pakistan. Discovered over two decades ago by Urdu critics like Anwar Sadeed, veteran literary figures like Wazir Agha, Anwar Masood, and Iftikhar Arif to name a few, have place his poetry lyrical quality akin to that of Qateel Shifai, Javed Akhtar, and Gulzar. ‘Jadeed Urdu Adab Ki Tahreekain’ – a course book taught in the University of the Punjab, includes references to Jafri’s poetry while half a dozen scholars are researching on his work for their MPhil dissertations.

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