Jan Nisar Akhtar bigraphy, stories - Urdu language poet

Jan Nisar Akhtar : biography

14 February 1914 - 19 August 1976

Jan Nisar Akhtar ( February 14, 1914 – August 19, 1976) was an important 20th century Indian poet of Urdu ghazals and nazms, and a part of the Progressive Writers' Movement, who was also a lyricist for Bollywood. Encyclopaedia of Hindi cinema, by , Gulzar, Govind Nihalani, Saibal Chatterjee (Encyclopaedia Britannica, India). Popular Prakashan, 2003. ISBN 8179910660. p. 296.

In a career spanning four decade during which he worked with music composers including C. Ramchandra, O.P. Nayyar, N Dutta and Khayyam, he wrote 151 songs. Notable among them were songs from his breakthrough film, AR Kardar’s Yasmin (1955), Aankhon hi Aankhon Mein in Guru Dutt's C.I.D. (1956), Yeh dil aur unki nigahon ke saaye in Prem Parbat (1974) and Aaja re in Noorie (1979) and his last song, Ae Dil-e-naadaan, in Kamal Amrohi’s Razia Sultan (1983). Screen (magazine), 20 October 2006. geetmanjusha.

His poetry works include Nazr-e-Butaan, Salaasil, Javidaan, Pichali Pehar, Ghar Angan and Khaak-e-dil. The latter ("The Ashes of Heart") was a poetry collection for which he was awarded the 1976 Sahitya Akademi Award in Urdu by Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters Sahitya Akademi Award Official listings.



  • Yasmin (1955)
  • C.I.D. (1956)
  • Rustom Sohrab (1963)
  • Noorie (1979)
  • Prem Parvat (1974)
  • Shankar Hussain (1977)
  • Razia Sultan (1983)


  • Bahu Begum (1967)


On his return, he joined Victoria College, Gwalior, as an Urdu Lecturer. Meanwhile in 1943, he married Safiya Siraj-ul Haq, also an alumnus of AMU, and the sister of poet Majaz Luckknawi, their two sons, Javed and Salman were born in 1945 and 1946 respectively. Post-independence riots in Gwalior forced him to shift base to Bhopal, where he joined the Hamidia College as Head of Department of Urdu and Persian, later Safiya also joined the college. Soon they became part of the Progressive Writers' Movement and subsequently he was made its president.

In 1949, he resigned from his job, moved to Bombay (now Mumbai) to write lyrics for Urdu/Hindi movies besides ghazals and nazms for general publication. Once in Bombay, he came in touch with other progressive writers, like Mulk Raj Anand, Krishan Chander, Rajinder Singh Bedi and Ismat Chugtai, who often met at Bombay's Silver Fish Restaurant, and subsequently came to be known as 'Bombay Group of Writers'.Literary radicalism in India: gender, nation and the transition to independence, by Priyamvada Gopal. Routledge, 2005. ISBN 0-415-32904-3, p. 165. Success came his way quite late as a film lyricist, till then he was supported by his wife who had stayed back in Bhopal, though she died prematurely of cancer in 1953. Finally he had a career breakthrough, with Yasmeen (1955), with music by C. Ramchandra. His association with Madan Mohan, the music director resulted in many memorable movie songs. Some of his notable lyrics were, Meri Neendon Mein Tum in Naya Andaz (1956) by Kishore Kumar, Shamshad Begum, Garib Jan Key Hamko Naa Tum Daga Dena sung by Mohd. Rafi in Chhoo Mantar, the hit Piya piya piya... in Baap Re Baap (1955) music by O.P. Nayyar, Aap Yun Faaslon Se by Lata Mangeshkar in Shankar Hussain (1977)..

His poetry was secular and like many of progressive writers of his generation talked of freedom, dignity, economic exploitation and other issues gleaming of the leftist leanings.History of Indian Literature: 1911-1956, struggle for freedom: triumph and tragedy, by Sisir Kumar Das. Sahitya Akademi, 2006. ISBN 81-7201-798-7. p. 226. Even his romanticism which was amply displayed in his ghazals, was replete with references to household and family life. His notable books include Nazr-e-Butaan, Salaasil, Javidaan, Ghar Angan and Khaak-e-Dil (all Urdu titles). One of his many famous couplets is :

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