Today is the birth anniversary of Kazi Nazrul Islam. Not many poets championed the cause of nationalism and secularism in pre-independence India like Kazi Nazrul Islam did. The man who donned the uniform and fought in Mesopotamia during World War I, laid down the gun and took up the pen, which he used with devastating effect to deride the British Raj.
Nicknamed ‘Bidrohi Kobi’ or the ‘rebel poet’, he composed poems which inspired the proponents of armed revolution and shunned even the slightest mention of communalism.
He was the first to make poems talking about intense spiritual rebellion against fascism and oppression. He talked about revolution through his poetic works. Some examples are ‘Bidrohi’ (‘The Rebel’) and ‘Bhangar Gaan’ (‘The Song of Destruction’), as well as his publication Dhumketu (‘The Comet’). His work for the Indian independence movement often led to his being sent to jail by the British authorities. During one such prison term, he wrote the Rajbandir Jabanbandi (‘Deposition of a Political Prisoner’).
Nazrul’s writings are about themes such as love, freedom, and revolution. He was against all bigotry, including religious and gender-based. Throughout his career, Nazrul also wrote short stories, novels and essays, but he is best known for his poems. He started new forms such as Bengali ghazals. Nazrul wrote and composed music for nearly 4,000 songs, which are collectively known as Nazrulgeeti (‘songs of Nazrul’). They are widely popular today and have given him immortality.
A version of this first published in the May 25, 2015 edition of The Statesman
Lead image: maqtanim.deviantart.com