Learning Urdu Language(اردو زبان)

I being a polyglot, I like languages, scripts. During my Indology course, I learnt even ancient script Bramhi. Because of my education and profession, which is related to computers, I learnt quite a few computer programming languages as well in the past.  I also got exposed to languages and use in computers more when I was involved in localization for software systems. Due to that, and also mainly my exposure to languages such as Urdu(which has right to left script), because of trekking to forts in Sahyadri, I wished to know more and learn Urdu, Persian and even Arabic. One can find many inscriptions in these right-to-left scripts on the forts, I was left wondering as to what would their content be, due to lack of knowledge of those scripts.

My opportunity to learn Urdu came by in 2009, when I learnt about Urdu diploma program which is run by NCPUL(National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, under Government of India). They have tied up with various Urdu schools all over in the country to run this special program which is open to anyone, and the program is highly subsidized. Plus they provide all the course material which includes 4-5 books. I enrolled myself into it that year and whole new world of this language, script, literature, its influence, role in the history opened in front of me.

I wanted to write this blog mainly to let my readers know that if you want to have opportunity to learn it, the course would begin soon in year 2016. The registration will soon be open. Watch out for an ad which appears in the newspapers later in December for more information. You can get more details on their website too. Let me give you brief details of this course and what all you can expect.

The course, of course, begins with Urdu script. The detailed explanation of various rules associated with reading and writing, with help of practice books is provided. Introduction to words, simpler to complex is provided. The nuances of language is further introduced with help of book containing reading material. During the course, student is also introduced to influence of Arabic, Persian and even Hindi words to the language. As it is well known fact that Urdu developed during 13th century in Deccan, by borrowing words from different languages which army-men spoke. Urdu poetry, such as ghazals, is also introduced. Ghazals are hugely popular in India, and many students come to this course have background of ghazals. The course ends with an easy examination at the end of year. The lectures are conducted twice a week, for about 3 hours each time, and one can attend one of the two days.The course material consists of following books:

  1. Urdu for All(introduction to Urdu script)
  2. Ibtedai Urdu(preliminary reading material)
  3. Assan Urdu Shayari(poetry)
  4. Intekhab-e-Nasr-e-Urdu(essays, advanced reading material)

To me the key thing was script. We generally are familiar with many Urdu words due to its closeness to Hindi, and also due to wide use of it in movies. I am, of course, no Urdu expert, and have a long way to go in ability to read fast, also decipher variants of scripts, and writing. I am on it though, slowly and steadily! Google Language Bar also provides Urdu as a choice for input, that makes it easy while typing on computers, but writing on piece of paper is always a joy.


Madhosh Bilgrami

Does anyone know who Nawab Madhosh Bilgrami is or remember him?

In Sept 2014, my friend Nandin Sareen(who is singer, and also has started ‘Madhugandharv’ organization for spreading music) invited me to accompany him, along with other folks, on one of the Sundays to Talegaon(a town near Pune) to be part of Urdu shaayari mehefil. Little I knew that time, that I was visiting Madhosh’ home.

Madhosh, himself accomplished Urdu shaayar, has not only written independent shaayaris, but also written songs and scripts for Hindi movies. Some of the films he has been part of are, Chakra(Smita Patil was in the lead role there), Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, Jaano Bhi Do Yaron. I was taken back by surprise to see him living alone in this remote town during his old age. He is now above 75, and needs to use wheel chair.

During his younger days, with family

During his younger days, with family

As of today, in his old age.

As of today, in his old age.

I feel documenting his life story, his contribution to Urdu shaayari, Hindi movies needs to take place sooner than later. We spent about 3-4 hours with him, during which he rendered various shaayaris, shared his experiences with film industry, co-stars, personalities. It was very interesting conversation with him to understand, in no way fully, his life and his contribution. We had not planned any interview hence did not prepare any questions before hand. Nandin’s main agenda was to have him talk about his shaayari. But as we started interacting with him, it became clear to my mind that we need to record some biographical details on him, hence started quizzing him on those, which he was not very keen to talk about. He was born in royal Nawab family in Hyderabad. He studied Psychology from Aligarh Muslim University. He came to Mumbai in 1962 where he did masters ans PhD in Political Science. Later joined FTII in Pune and studied script writing and direction there for some time, later he assisted Zul Vilani for 3 years. He has been influenced by Communist philosophy, traveled to then USSR, studied Russian language also. We noticed posters on stalwarts of Marxism(such as Che Guevara) on the walls of his home. He also claimed himself as former Naxalite, also mentioned he had written song on Naxalbari. Anthologies of his shaayaris have been published in the form of some books such as Fasale, Silsile etc.

Lastly, the vigor and desire to accomplish still was very evident his conversation. He expressed desire to produce film based on Jaywant Dalvi’s novel Kaal Chakra, script for which is ready.