A story about Majrooh Sultanpuri (1919-2000)

Justice Markandey Katju-

Justice Markandey Katju

Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.


This story was told to me by my friend Wajahat Husain Khan, senior advocate of Allahabad High Court, who is now over 80 years old.

Wajahat’s grandfather was late Rahmat Ullah Khan, a prominent advocate of Sultanpur district court. The famous Urdu poet Majrooh Sultanpuri ( whose real name was Asrar ul Hasan Khan ), was Rahmat Ullah Khan’s nephew ( brother’s son ).

Once Majrooh, who had settled in Bombay where he became famous by writing many songs for Hindi films, was invited to an Urdu mushaira in Sultanpur. His hosts arranged for his accommodation in a posh local hotel, and Majrooh spent a night there.

Next day he went to meet his uncle in their ancestral house. On entering the house Majrooh went to his uncle, who looked at him and said ” Aap kaun hain ? “. Majrooh said ” Chacha main Asrar hun “. His uncle said ” Nahin, aap Majrooh Sultanpuri hain. Ab aap ja sakte hain “.

Majrooh left the room and quietly went to his aunt ( Rahmat Ullah Khan’s wife ) and told her what happened. She told him not to worry, and she would pacify her husband.

Evidently, Rahmat Ullah Khan was very upset because Majrooh had not stayed with him, and instead had stayed in a hotel.

This story shows how strong family bonds were in those days.

Majrooh’s uncle must have known Majrooh ( Asrar ) since his childhood, and evidently felt that just because he had now become a rich and famous man did not entitle him to behave like a snooty and pompous bighead, particularly towards his close elder relatives.

On reaching Sultanpur, Majrooh should have come straight to his uncle’s house and stayed there, even if that house did not provide the comforts of a 3-star hotel.

That was the old culture. But now all that has changed.

I am ending this piece with a famous nazm ( poem ) of Majrooh :

Dushman ki dosti hai ab ahl-e-vatan ke saath

hai ab khiza chaman men nae pairahan ke saath

sar par hava-e-zulm chale sau jatan ke saath

apni kulah kaj hai usi bankpan ke saath

kisne kaha ki toot gaya khanjar-e-firang

Seene pe zakhm-e-nau bhi hai daagh-e-kuhan ke saath

jhonke jo lag rahe hain nasim-e-bahar ke

jumbish men hai qafas bhi asir-e-chaman ke saath

‘majruh’ qafile ki mere dastan ye hai

rahbar ne mil ke loot liya rahzan ke saath





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