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Onion price, inflation, political games — Gulzar’s Murari Lal is back to voice public anger

Gulzar's short poems featuring Murari Lal pack a punch in how sharply they deal with current issues. Read the translations by Rakhshanda Jalil.

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New Delhi: When we think of the 1971 classic Anand, we remember Rajesh Khanna, his sly “Babu Moshai” and the beautiful songs. But think again — Khanna’s Anand also had this habit of calling the common man Murari Lal. Almost half a century later, Murari Lal has made a comeback.

Gulzar, the poet, lyricist and writer who was part of the team that wrote Anand, has brought Murari Lal out of hiding via a set of poems through which he addresses the concerns of every man. Murari Lal is the person you see sipping tea at a corner shop, haggling with the vegetable vendor, on a bus going to office.

The short poems pack a punch in how sharply they deal with issues ranging from inflation to public anger at the government to the Machiavellian political games that played out in Maharashtra.

Here are a few of the poems, and a song, written by Gulzar and translated for ThePrint by Rakhshanda Jalil.

मुरारीलाल #1

मुरारीलाल के माथे से बल नहीं जाते!

बड़े मुश्टंडे मुर्ग़े थे गली मे
बचा के रखना मुश्किल हो गया था मुर्ग़ियों को

कभी सब टोकरी में रखके ऊपर ईंट रख देते
तो चढ़ के ईंटों पर वो बाँग देते थे
उन्हें दड़बों में बन्द करते,
तो दरवाज़ों पे दस्तक आने लगती थी
बसों में भर के ले जाते हैं अब,
उन्हें अब होटलों में बन्द रखते हैं

कोई ’ईगो’ नहीं इन मुर्गियों की
फ़क़त वोटिंग में आकर अन्डे देती हैं!

Muralilal # 1

The creases don’t quite leave Murari Lal’s forehead!

The roosters in the alley had become such rogues
It was becoming difficult to keep the hens safe

When the hens would be put under baskets with a brick on top
They would climb atop the bricks and crow
When the hens would be put in coops
They would begin to peck at the door
Now they are taken away in buses
And kept locked up in hotels

These hens have no ‘ego’
They only come during voting to lay eggs

मुरारीलाल #2

मुरारीलाल के माथे से बल नहीं जाते!

बड़ी महंगाई है यारो,
कि भाव आस्मां छूने लगे हैं
लगन बेटी की सर पे आ गयी है
बड़ी मुश्किल से ’मंगलसूत्र’ बनवाया
दहेज में और क्या दूं?

प्याज़ रख दूं?
कि भाव सोना छूने लग गया है!

Muralilal # 2

The creases don’t quite leave Murari Lal’s forehead!

Friends, inflation is rising
Prices of everything are sky high
The daughter’s wedding is approaching
With such difficulty I have managed her “mangal sutra”
What else shall I give in her dowry?

Shall I add some onions?
Their price is as dear as gold

मुरारीलाल #3

मुरारीलाल के माथे से बल नहीं जाते!

उठा कर इंडिया टाईम्ज़‘-
मेरे अब्बू दिखाते हैं मुझे,
आसाम और बंगाल और दिल्ली की तस्वीरें
ये मंज़र पहले भी देखे हैं हमने
वो सन 1942 था!
निकाला था जब अंग्रेज़ों को हमने
Quit India की तहरीक थी वो भी!

बहुत गुस्सा था लोगों में
उतर आये थे सड़कों पर
जलायी जा रही थीं मोटरें, ट्रामें, बसें,
सरकारी सब कुछ
कुछ ऐसे ही
पोलिस और फ़ौज से टकराओ होता था
बहुत सा खू़न मासूमों का गिरता था
वो Quit India की तहरीक दिखी थी!

मेरे अब्बू
ये 2019 है अब
ये फिर Quit India किस के लिये है?
मुरारीलाल के माथे से बल नहीं जाते!

Murailal #3

My Abbu picks up “India Times”
And shows me
Pictures of Assam and Bengal and Delhi
‘I have seen these sights earlier too
It was the year 1942
When we had pushed out the English
It was the Quit India movement!

People were filled with anger
They had come into the streets
And were setting motors, trams, buses on fire
Anything that was government owned

A bit like now –
There would be face-offs with the police and the armed forces
The blood of innocents would be spilt
I had witnessed the Quit India movement!’

‘But Abbu
It is 2019 now
Who is this Quit India for, now?’

The creases don’t quite leave Murari Lal’s forehead!

मुरारीलाल #4

हाथी मरे को मरने दो___
प्यादों की मत फ़िक्र करो
फ़ीला हटा लो__

घोड़े ख़रीदो, घोड़े,
घोड़ो का व्यापार करो___

ढ़ाई घर चलते हैं ये
दायें हो या बायें!
वज़ीर बचाओ__

कैसी ये शतरंज चली है महाराष्ट्र में__
मुरारीलाल के माथे से बल जाते नहीं!

Murarilal #4

Sacrifice the rook, if need be
Don’t worry about the pawn
Move the bishop
Buy the knights,

Trade in horses
They move two-and-a-half paces…
Both left and right!
Save your queen

Look at the chess being played in Maharashtra —
The creases don’t quite leave Murari Lal’s forehead!

खून की ख़ुशबू 

खून की ख़ुशबू, बड़ी बदमस्त है
हमारा हुक्मरां  कमबख़्त है    

समय बराबर कर देता है,
समय के हाथ में आरी है
वक़्त से पंजा मत लेना,
वक्त्त का पंजा भारी है

सींग हवा के ना पकड़ों,
आंधी है ये ना जकड़ो

काल की, अरे काल की लाठी बड़ी ही सख़्त है

खून की ख़ुशबू, बड़ी बदमस्त है
हमारा हुक्मरां  कमबख़्त है  

The scent of blood 

The scent of blood is heady
Our ruler is a wretch

Time is a great leveller
Time wields a saw
Don’t wrestle with Time
Time’s grip is stronger

Don’t catch the wind by its horns
It’s a storm; don’t grapple with it

The baton of Time hits hard

The scent of blood is heady
Our ruler is a wretch

Also read: From Aandhi to Slumdog Millionaire, Gulzar has given Hindi cinema something new always


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