Mujra doesn't solely mean women singing and performing at gatherings for the entertainment of the audiences; something which is now considered a form of dance, thanks to Hindi movies. The word Mujra is also used in Urdu literature to mean Salaam (greetings), in the works of poets, in Urdu prose and in Hindi, it often appears in the same sense.
Ram Jharoke baith ke sab ka Mujra let
Jaisi jaakii chaakari waisa usko det
From the word Mujra, stems forth the word Mujra’i, that is one who greets or does the Salaam. This word has been used entirely differently in Urdu Marsiya (elegy). In the opening-verse of a Marsiya composed in the form of a quatrain, ghazal, or Qita the word Mujra or Salaam is used.
Hussain yun hue aye mujra’i watan se judaa
Ki jaise bulbul-e-naa-shaad ho chaman se judaa
Moreover, Mujra is also in the sense of computing and accounting. For instance, take the expression ‘Aap ke hisaab mein se itni raqam mujra kar dii gaii’, that is ‘your account has been deducted with so and so amount’.
The following incident is neither of contemporary rivalry nor of the difference between the poetry schools of Lucknow and Delhi, it’s about a misunderstanding between two poets from Delhi and Lucknow about a single couplet which remained a matter of concern for years. On the one hand, there was the famous Ustad from Lucknow, Aziz Lakhnavi, who even took under his wing poet Josh Malihabadi for a while, and on the other hand, there was Bekhud Dehlavi, who was considered the successor of Dagh Dehlvi.
At a Mushaira in Lucknow, where Bekhud Dehlavi was also invited, he read the following couplet among others:
Naa-Kamiyon mein guzri bad-namiyon mein guzri
Umr-e-Aziiz guzri sab khamiyon mein guzri
Also present at the Mushaira was Aziz Lakhnavi, who took the couplet as an attack on him. What followed was all the participants staring at Bekhud Dehlvi with angry eyes. When Bekhud came to know that his couplet was considered as a mockery of Aziz Lakhnavi, he apologized morally. But his apology was not accepted and all the poets of that time disdained him behind the scenes and this disdain did not go away from their hearts throughout their lives. When Bekhud saw his moral apology being rejected, he started reciting this couplet before reading out the rest of his poems at every Mushaira. This rose to crescendo where Bekhud was not invited at any Mushaira where Aziz was invited, and Aziz, too, avoided those Mushairas where Bekhud was invited.
Lutfullah Khan had recorded and preserved the recitals and discourses of 5,000 important personalities, singers, musicians, writers and poets over a period of half a century. Now this treasure has come to YouTube and gained worldwide fame. What is special about it is that many writers and poets have recorded things about themselves that are not found anywhere else. In this treasure, all of Faiz Ahmad Faiz's poems are present in his voice which he recorded in installments over a period of 25 years. Whenever he recited a new Nazm or ghazal, he would go and record it with Khan Sahib.
Lutfullah Khan (1916-2012), was born in Madras (Chennai). He lived in Bombay for ten years and after the partition of India he moved to Karachi where he owned an advertising company. From an early age he was fascinated with the fine arts and knew a great deal about music. He was a singer and photographer himself. He also used to write poetry in his youth. He is the author of several books based on music and his memoirs. In his book "Tamashay-e-Ahl-e-Qalam" he pens his meetings and memories with some famous writers and poets in a very interesting way in the form of articles.
A songwriter of 151 film songs, the mellifluous poet Jaan Nisar Akhtar is also the author of numerous Ghazal and Nazm collections. He started writing ghazals at the age of thirteen. It was his father Muztar Khairabadi, a poet and songwriter, from whom Jaan Nisar had inherited poetry imbued in Ganga-Jamni Tahzeeb: an inheritence which his son Javed Akhtar has kept well.
During his time as a student, Jaan Nisar Akhtar had penned a Nazm titled 'Girl's College Ki Laari', which became extremely famous. Once, at a Mushaira in Aligarh University, where Jigar Sahib was also present, it was obvious that the curtains be brought down after Jigar's recital. But the students raised hell, demanding Jaan Nisar to recite 'Girl's College Ki Laari', which he eventually had to.
Years later, another important work of his gained prominence by virtue of women. It was 'Ghar-Angan', a collection of Rubais and Qitas which brought to the fore married life and the housewife for the first time in Urdu poetry and afforded both a special distinction. He also added to women's literature by publishing letters from his late, loving wife Safia Akhtar. The Nazm 'Khamosh-Awaz', written by him on her first death anniversary, brings out a unique shade of love, as the late wife consoles her grieving husband.
kitne din meñ aa.e ho sāthī mere sote bhaag jagāne
mujh se alag is ek baras meñ kyā kyā biitī tum pe na jaane
Akhtar Shirani, also known Shair-e-Ruuman, was the first to name his beloved(s) in Urdu poetry. Salma, Rehana, and Azra are incarnate characters of love and affection in his poetry. He himself confessed to a friend that Salma was not his beloved’s real name but a pseudonym and that other female names, too, followed the suit.
yahii vaadii hai vo hamdam jahaa.n 'rehaana' rahtii thii
yahii.n bastii thii ai hamdam mire ruumaan kii bastii
He was also the first to write Sonnet in Urdu. But his fame as a romantic poet overshadowed his fiction-writing and translation works. Akhtar Shirani died at the age of 43 due to excessive drinking. In his brief lifespan (1905-1948), he so profusely wrote both prose and poetry, that very few people ever did. He translated the famous Turkish playwright Sami Bay's play "Kave" as "Zahak" in Urdu.
‘Aaina-Khaane Mein’, is a collection of his five short-stories. It is said that they were all written in one night. These stories are in the form of the biographies of film actresses illustrating the exploitation of women. He also wrote columns for many newspapers and magazines under the pseudonyms of Lord Byron of Rajasthan, Ibn-e-Batuta, Balam, Rajkumari, Bakavali, Akkas, etc.