The story behind his writing Mega Serial Mahabharata for Doordarsha.
“I am the son of three mothers.Nafisa Begum ( Biological Mother) , AMU and River Ganga.i gift this book “Scene 75 “ to them. Nafisa Begum is dead.I can’t remember her very clearly. But the other two mothers are alive and I remember them well.”
Kunwarpal Singh, Dr Rahi ‘s friend and colleague at Aligarh Muslim university informs :
“ His Decision to move to Mumbai was triggered by his marriage to Nayyar Jahan in 1965. Nayyar Jahan was already married and despite opposition , he went ahead with his decision to marry her. A full blown scandal erupted at AMU by this marriage and Dr Rahi lost his job. His rivals at AMU got a big excuse. They were opposed to his attempts of introducing Hindi courses in the Urdu Department and Vice Versa.
In Bombay , life was tough. His friends Kamleshwar and Dharamvir Bharati did support him initially. They published his work in the Hindi Magazines that they edited and ensured advance payments to him. Raj khosla was impressed by his style and work.He engaged him for his films as script cum dialogue writer.
Rahi had a mastery over urdu and Hindi .That proved of immense help. Soon BR Chopra brought him in his camp . When BR Chopra requested Rahi sahib to write TV Script and dialogues for Mahabharata, he refused as he had no time. Chopra sahib went ahead with a press conference wherein he declared that Dr Rahi Masoom Raza shall be writing dialogues and script for his Mega TV Serial Mahabharata. Rahi Sahib felt surprised and Chopra sahib was flooded with letters that said:
“Were All hindus dead that you had to give this task to a Muslim? “
Chopra sahib forwarded all these letters to Rahi sahib.
Rahi sahib was a real Ganga Putra or a Ganga kinare wala born at Ghazipur. Next day , he went to Chopra sahib’s Bungalow and said to him:
“Chopra Sahib ! I will write the Mahabharata. I am a son of the Ganga . Who knows the civilization and culture of India better than i do? “
His son Nadeem Khan (Cinematographer) informs:
“ Writing Mahabharata took it’s toll in his health.He aged fifteen years in that time. He read a lot of scriptures and was always stressful. He could not afford to go one step wrong. He was a Shiva-Bhakt.After Mahabharata ,he wanted to script “ Om Namah Shivaye” ; But that was not to be.He died at 65 . Looking at the grand success of Mahabharata, I urged him to charge higher fee for his work but he always refused . Everyday we had ten or fifteen people at the Dastarkhwaan. He was known to write films free and sometimes just for a Paan.”
Dr Rahi belonged to an aristocratic family from Ghazipur. His brother Dr Moonis Raza was among the founder chairman of JNU and VC of Delhi University . Another brother Prof. Mehndi Raza headed Geography Department in AMU. His fourth brother was Ahmed Raza , an Economist who worked with IMG in Washington. Dr Rahi’s sister Suraiya did her Doctorate in History.
It was Rahi sahib’s idea to use SAMAY (Time) as narrator of the epic Mahabharata on TV. He coined new words like Pitashri and Matashri that became so popular as if the ancient characters had actually spoken them.
He was a poet, playwright, Novelist , Film Script and Dialogue writer, linguist who had command over Hindi, Urdu,Sanskrit and English .His TV Serial “ Neem Ka peid” was also quite popular in entire length and breadth of the country . His book Aadha Gaon is his finest contribution to the corpus of Indian Literature.So are his other works like Topi Shukla, Ous ki boond and Katra Bi Aarzo.He also wrote Himmat Jaunpuri(1969) ,Dil Ek Saada Kagaz(1973) and Chhote Aadmi ki Badi kahaani (on the life and sacrifice of PVC Havalidar Abdul Hamid ). He also compiled a book of his Nonfiction writings under title”Lagtaa Hai Bekaar Give Hum”.
He wrote scripts and Dialogues for many films. Dialogues for “Me Tulsi teray Aangan ki “and “Mili” won him prestigious Filmfare awards.
As young boy ,he fell victim to Tuberclousis and had to spend about 6 years in Nainital and kashmir.
Although , he never joined communist Party of India, he had all his sympathies for the left and underprivileged. He was a liberal and open minded person.Due to attack of polio in childhood , he had a little limp.
Both brothers Dr Moonis Raza and Dr Rahi Masoom Raza had strong links with Kashmir . Dr Moonis Raza was in Kashmir for more than a decade . He served as Principal Regional Engineering College Srinagar and also as VC Kashmir university . So many students and Teachers remember him well. Dr Rahi Masoom Raza was also in Kashmir when he Contracted Tuberculosis. He made so many friends from amongst the literary and Medical Fraternity . Dr Tahir Mirza from Chest Diseases Hospital was his closest Friend. So were many writers , Leaders , artists , Theatre Artists from kashmir became his close Friends . He kept coming to Kashmir repeatedly. Infact his wife Nayyar Jahan had also lived in Kashmir for more than two years .
I quote from comments of some friends to a Facebook post that I wrote on Dr Rahi Masoom Raza yesterday .
Noted English writer and Translator Prof. Arvind Gigoo writes:
“He has come to our place a number of times. My uncle-cum-brother Dwarka Nath Gigoo Rajkamal, Kishori Kaul and Dr Rahi Masoom Raza were patients of tuberculosis. Rajkamal Gigoo and Rahi Masoom Raza spent some time in Tangamarg. Sanatorium. Raza stayed with us for many days. Raza and Rajkamal Gigoo were same age. In Kashmir , He met all Hindi writers. Toshkhani, Pushp, etc. I mean father of Dr Shashi Shekhar Toshakhani. Dr Tahir Mirza was his closest friend in Kashmir. Dr Mirza of CD Hospital was an agnostic. He never charged fees from any patient. Treated all patients free. We used to meet often. He was married to one Sujata Mirza. She was a Shaivite. She had worked for BBC. I still remember her radio talk On Growing Old Gracefully written in Queen’s English. She read it like an English lady. Deeply religious. A remarkable conversationalist.”
Shri Basi Raina from Radio Kashmir Informs :
“ In 1978 ,while on Rangmanch Theatre tour to Bombay,i had the privilege of calling on Dr Masoom Raza with late Ali Mohd. Lone at his residence .Lone sahib knew him well and i wanted Rahi sahib’s help for procuring adds for my souvenir. To my surprise he knew every one connected with literature in Kashmir and enquired about M Y Teng…Kamal Ahmad Siddique ..Dr Tahir Mirza of CD Hospital and others. He also gave me letter for Salim of Salim Javed team for help.He had a limp and was a fantastic conversationalist.”
Prof. Nusrat Andrabi Ex. Principal Women ‘s college Srinagar informs :
“ I know the family very well. Nayar Jahan or Nayar Apa was the grand daughter of Sir Aftab Ahmad of Aligarh. She was married to Col Yunus khan of Rampur, brother in law of Nawab of Rampur. Col. Yunus Khan was posted to Kashmir and he took up his private family residence at Magharmal Bagh , near my parental house. I was a daily visitor to their house . This is 1963-65. A great pleasant couple, very loving and cultured. Then after a few years they went to Aligarh.I was in touch with them . Later Nayar Apa left Col. Saheb and married Rahi Masoom Raza. His poem 1857 was very popular those days.”
Well Known Journalist Rahul Jalali son of late P N jalali ( Journalist ) and freedom fighter Informs :
“ Moonis Raza and my father were both interned in jail in Delhi before 47, subsequently, they spend two years in Eastern Europe together. My father met my mother in Europe and they married. When I was two years old my mother spend six months in Raza household completing her MA in Library Science in Aligarh. During this period I was looked after by Moonis and Rahi’s sister’s. I also remember some of the “great escapades” of Rahi. During my growing up years, Rahi often used to visit Srinagar and stay with Jalali and Sumitra Behen as the Raza brothers used to call my mother. Lost touch with Rahi when he shifted to Mumbai (then Bombay). But Moonis I kept in touch with till his last days. “
I end this post with his poetic will ….
(Will And Testament)
My art is dead,
My skin has turned blue,
Take me to the Ganga in Ghazipur,
Let me sleep in her lap.
But it could be that I die far from my homeland
So this is my will
If a little river flows in that foreign city ,
Take me there
Let me sleep in her lap
And tell her
That this son of Ganga is now Hers.
(Rahi Masoom Raza)
So long so much.
Source Books for this post ..
“Scene 75” ..by Dr Rahi Masoom Raza translated to English by Poonam Saxena. Poonam Saxena is the National Weekend Editor of The Hindustan Times. She has also translated Dr Dharamvir Bharati’s 1949 Novel” Gunahon Ka Devta” to English.
A Short , crisp and fascinating novel and equally perfect Translation .Set in Bombay of 1970 , The novel contains Stories of stragglers , sleazy producers and film obsessed social climbers. Raza gives a kaleidoscopic view of film world and the hypocrisy as he rips off many curtains . The central Character of “Scene 75” is Ali Amjad,a struggling film script writer from Benaras surrounded by the distrustful and scheming Characters, crooked producers, narrow-minded middle class social Climbers and pushy clerks. You sympathize with Ali Amjad ( who is possibly Dr Rahi Masoom Raza himself)
Autar Mota is a Blogger , Translator and writes in English , Urdu , Kashmiri and Hindi.