Rahi Masoom Raza: Hindostani at heart

This piece written by Poonam Saxena on Dr Rahi Masoom Raza appeared in The Livemint. I loved reading it and therefore am reproducing it here in full. Dr Raza was one of Urdu’s finest writers and an icon of the Hindi film industry.

Author: Slapstik

Twitter: @kaeshour

15 thoughts on “Rahi Masoom Raza: Hindostani at heart”

  1. The dialog in Mahabharat is just remarkable. It is perhaps not an understatement to say that a whole generation of Indians have experienced the Mahabharata through the words of Masoom Raza.

  2. Thanks Slapstik for introducing me to a literary figure I had never heard of before.

    I especially related to the following:
    “Slowly I am developing a hatred for religion…I am an angry person… Shri Bal Thackeray says I am not a Maharashtrian because Marathi is not my mother tongue…And the RSS says I am not even a Hindustani. I will have to become a Bhartiya/Indian,”

    Seems like in the BJP’s India, a lot of Muslims are being told that they are not “Bhartiyas”, no matter how nominal their Islam is. Anyway, enough politics for now.

    More posts on Urdu literature please 🙂

    1. Yes it was a bit sad to read how he had to prove himself again and again.

      Being Muslim in India does have a deep stigma.. but then India is a huge economy so there is that offset..

      1. Being Muslim in India didn’t used to have a deep stigma but that is changing now…

        On a side note, can we ask Batul Miah to contribute to BP if he chooses to do so? He seems to have intelligent views.

        1. Being Muslim in India always had a stigma and always never did. It will be the same in the future. That is the nature of complex, democratic societies.

          Pakistanis should get rid of the “musalmanoN key chaudhary”-complex for their own sake. Just sayin’ 🙂

          1. Completely agree with Slapstik. Slapstik, most of your comments are very perceptive and insightful. You think different. How did you become so wise?

      2. Kabir, post modernism is pushing the narrative that there is a stigma for minorities. The goal of post modernism is to divide and conquer, to encourage and increase tension between groups of people.

        There is no safer country to be a muslim than India for all of India’s challenges. At least the Indian security services try to provide security to India’s muslim leaders. How many countries do that? Indian muslims have more freedom than muslims who live in any other country. Only in India (and maybe Canada and America) can muslims publicly examine if the Koran has been manipulated by Aisha/Uthman and be protected. Only in India (and Canada/America) can muslims publicly and safely discuss waḥdat ash-shuhūd, engage in blasphemy, and openly discuss the most sensitive issues in Islam.

        No country has more freedom of art, speech, thought, intuition and feeling than India. The Vedas and Indian scriptures are full of question and answer, of discussion. Nothing can’t be questioned. No one can’t be questioned. Questioning everything and everyone is celebrated. God is micro-examined, questioned, critiqued; and at times even found wanting. Questioning and analysis is a path to wisdom, transcending the many subtle veils of illusion; unveiling the truth. This is true across race, creed, faith and culture in Bharat. I dare say that Indian Christians also enjoy freedom of thought, intuition and feeling that isn’t exceeded in any other country.

        The only major limitation on freedom in India comes from post modernists; but post modernists are weaker in India than they are in the rest of the world . . . for now.

        1. Please give this heartening defense of Bharat Mata to those Muslims being lynched in BJP ruled states. I’m afraid I don’t believe your assurances.

          Too much politics for me. I will from now on restrict myself to art, literature and music–safe and non-controversial topics (Inshallah). I’m sure even those can somehow be made controversial if Hindutvadis try hard enough….

        2. AnAn, A Bollywood song can directly address the prophet as Mohammad and no body gives a hoot. India has a libertarian culture all through.
          (ref. bajrangi bhaijan movie)

          1. This is an important point / India is fundamentally a tolerant culture that is becoming more illiberal (in line with the West & Israel – the pressures of populism sprinkled with Muslimphobia)..

            Pakistan is the inverse; an exclusive idea but the facts on the ground don’t actually live up to the State’s ideals (so minorities aren’t as excluded as they should be / people can eat pork sometimes / there’s alcohol in elite homes)..

          2. Are you referring to “Bhar Do Jholi Meri”? I don’t think any Pakistani has a problem with this qawwali either. It’s not disrespectful to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) at all.

            This is not originally a Bollywood song but a fairly standard Qawwali, as far as I know.

          3. Kabir, I have read some low level complaint from some source on this issue. I don’t recall where.

          4. I can believe that someone complained, but as you point out it was “low level”.

            “Bhar Do Jholi Meri” has been sung by a lot of Pakistani qawwals as far as I know (again, Qawwali is not my area. Khayal is).

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