Why did Justice Katju say that today's Urdu (and Hindi) poets are really Gangu Teli

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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Lahore Literary Festival, 2023

By Justice Markandey Katju

The 3-day Lahore Literary Festival, 2023 concludes today, 26th February.

Though I was not there, I can hazard a guess what must have taken place there. It must have been ‘Aamadam, Guftam, Barkhaastam’ but zero haasildam i.e. we came, talked, and dispersed, but achieved nothing.

Fashionable, but empty-headed, ladies in colourful garments must have gathered there in huge numbers to demonstrate how ‘cultured’ they are. And the smartly dressed menfolk, posing to be ‘intellectuals’, would not have been left far behind.

Many such festivals ( which I regard as fashion shows ) are held in India. Recently we had ‘Jashn-e-Rekhta’ in Delhi, in which a huge amount of money must have been collected. Though I was not physically present there, I saw much of it on Youtube and thought it should have been appropriately renamed ‘Maatam-e-Rekhta’.

The Urdu poetry read in it was mostly third-rate and drivel, but the audience, most of whom in all likelihood did not understand anything, shouted ” Wah! Wah ! ”.

Mirza Ghalib’s biographer Hali has written that in mushairas ( usually held in the Red Fort in Delhi ) Ghalib would never give ‘daad’ ( appreciation ) to any sher ( couplet ) of any Urdu poet unless he thought it of high quality.

But nowadays the so-called erudite elite in our society gather in huge numbers in fine clothes in such festivals to show how savant and cultured they are, ( though most of them are boors and ignoramuses ), and shower praises on ‘poets’ who write rubbish.

These festivals, in my opinion, are just farces and gimmicks.

Today’s Urdu ( and Hindi ) poets are really Gangu telis, who write mostly third-rate rubbish, as contrasted to the Raja Bhojs like Mir, Ghalib, Faiz, Firaq, Josh, Sahir, Majrooh, etc.

So good luck to Lahoreans. Enjoy the junk, trash and garbage you are being served!


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