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‘Murari Lal is anxious’ — Gulzar says common man worried by lost leadership in latest poem

Over the years, Gulzar’s ‘Murari Lal’ poems have addressed multiple concerns of the common man, from inflation to political crises. Read his latest, set in a desert.

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Noted poet and lyricist Gulzar has never been one to hold back his views. Over the last six months, he has been regularly writing poems on different aspects of the pandemic, including the lockdown and the importance of respecting frontline workers during this crisis. 

Now, he is back with a new ‘Murari Lal’ poem. Murari Lal, as many might remember, is what Rajesh Khanna’s character calls the common man in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s 1971 classic Anand, whose timeless dialogues were written by Gulzar.  

Through his ‘Murari Lal’ poems, Gulzar has, in the past, addressed multiple concerns of the everyday Indian, from inflation and onion prices to political crises. His new poem is a more muted, but no less hard-hitting, take on what he sees as the somnolence and lack of direction in the current leadership. 

Read the original and its translation below:


मुरारीलाल के माथे से बल नहीं जाते

हमारे नेता को नींद आ गई थी,

ऊंट की लम्बी सवारी पर

खुली जब आंख उसका कारवां ग़ायब था सारा

न जाने रह गया था पीछे, या शायद… 

भटक के ऊंचे नीचे, टीले टिब्बों में

कहीं गुम हो गया था! 

अकेला था वो रेगिस्तान में और ऊंट उसका

खड़ा था चारों पैरों पर मगर,

खड़ा अपनी जगह पर हिल रहा था! 

चलेगा आगे, या पीछे  

रुकेगा, या… 

अगर बैठा तो किस करवट ये बैठेगा

परेशां है मुरारीलाल ___

मुरारीलाल के माथे से बल नहीं जाते! 

Murari Lal

The worry lines deepen on Murari Lal’s forehead

Our leader fell asleep

During a long journey on a camel

When he awoke, the rest of the caravan was nowhere to be seen

He didn’t know if it had been left behind or if it had lost its way traversing the high dunes and gorges!

He was alone in the desert and his camel stood on all fours, but 

Was moving on the spot where he stood!

Would the camel go forward or backwards?

Would it stand still or…

If it sat, in what position would it sit?

Murari Lal is anxious

The worry lines deepen on Murari Lal’s forehead

Also Read: In search of home in a pandemic — Gulzar’s new poem likens migrant crisis to Partition


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