Saeedabai reads Ghalib in A Suitable Boy (Vikram Seth/Mira Nair)

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A. Sharon
Published at : 20 Jan 2021
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I love Vikram Seth's portrayal of Saeedabai, the courtesan living in changing times.

Like in the video, my Lucknowi friend is unable to read Ghalib (1797-1869) in Urdu, but she grew up watching the Doordarshan tv series, Mirza Ghalib (1988). She sang the familiar verse for me, which I share here as a tribute to Saeedabai (and Ghalib).

She sang the next misra as well, but that pleasure must be left to your imagination..

The scene is taken from Mira Nair's adaptation, A Suitable Boy (BBC, 2020)

dil-e-naadaan tujhe hua kya hai ?
aakhir iss dard ki dawa kya hai ?

hum hain mushtaaq aur woh bezaar
ya ilaahee! yeh maajra kya hai ?

main bhi munh mein zabaan rakhta hoon
kaash! poocho ki "muddaa kya hai" ?

jab ki tujh bin naheen koee maujood
fir ye hangaama, 'ei khuda! kya hai

ye paree chehara log kaise hain?
ghamza-o-ishwa-o-'adaa kya hai ?

shikan-e-zulf-e-ambaree kyon hai ?
nigah-e-chashm-e-soorma sa kya hai ?

sabja-o-gul kahaan se aaye hain ?
abr kya cheez hai, hawa kya hai ?

hamko unse wafa ki hai ummeed
jo naheen jaante wafa kya hai

"haan bhala kar tera bhala hoga"
aur darvesh kee sada kya hai ?

jaan tum par nisaar karta hoon
main naheen jaanata duaa kya hai

maine maana ki kuchch naheen 'ghalib'
muft haath aaye to bura kya hai?
A Suitable BoyVikram SethMira Nair

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