biograohy of jaan-nisar-akhtar


Jaan Nisar Akhtar was born on 8th February, 1914 in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India, into a family of scholars and poets. His great grandfather, ‘Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi’, a scholar of Islamic studies and theology, famous for  editing  the ‘Diwan’ of ‘Mirza Ghalib’ on his request, and later became an important figure of ‘Khairabad’ during the first Independence movement of 1857. His father ‘Muztar Khairabadi’ was a renowned poet. His uncle ‘Bismil Khairabadi’ was also a poet.

Jaan Nisar passed his matriculation from Victoria College, Gwalior, in 1930. He did his B.A. Honours and M.A. degree from Aligarh Muslim University. He had started his doctoral work, but had to return to Gwalior due to family reasons.

In Gawlior he joined Victoria College, Gwalior as an Urdu Lecturer. In 1943, he was married to’ Safiya Siraj-ul Haq’, a teacher and writer and the sister of poet ‘Majaz Luckknavi’ and also an alumnus of AMU. His sons, Javed and Salman were born in 1945 and 1946 respectively. Post-independence riots in Gwalior forced him to shift to Bhopal. In Bhopal he joined the ‘Hamidia College’ as Head of Department of Urdu and Persian, later Safiya also joined the college. They became part of the Progressive Writers' Movement and subsequently he was made its president.

Jaan Nisar moved to Bombay in 1949. Here he came in contact with other progressive writers, like ‘Krishan Chander’, ‘Rajinder Singh Bedi’, ‘Ismat Chugtai’, and ‘Mulk Raj Anand’. When Jaan Nisar had come to Mumbai to try his luck as a film lyricist, his wife ‘Safiya’ stayed back with their children. She died of protracted cancer on 17 January 1953. Jaan Nisar got married again in September 1956, to ‘Khadija Talat’.

His carrier as film writer took off with ‘Yasmeen’ (1955). In his career spanning four decade during which he worked with distinguished music composers like ‘C. Ramchandra’,’ O.P. Nayyar’, ‘N Dutta’ and ‘Khayyam’, he wrote about 151 songs. Some of his notable lyrics were, songs from his breakthrough film AR Kardar's ‘Yasmin’ (1955), ‘Aankhon Hi Aankhon Mein’ in Guru Dutt's ‘C.I.D’. (1956), ‘Meri Neendon Mein Tum’ in ‘Naya Andaz’ (1956), ‘Gharib Jan Key Hamko Naa Tum Daga Dena’ in ‘Chhoo Mantar’, ‘Piya Piya Piya’ in ‘Baap Re Baap’ (1955),  ‘Yeh Dil Aur Unki Nigahon Ke Saaye’ in ‘Prem Parbat’ (1974), ‘Aap Yun Faaslon Se’ in ‘Shankar Hussain’ (1977), ‘Aaja Re’ in ‘Noorie’ (1979) and his last unforgettable song ‘Ai Dil-E-Naadaan’ in Kamal Amrohi's ‘Razia Sultan’ (1983).

He even wrote and produced a film ‘Bahu Begum’ (1967) starring Pradeep Kumar and Meena Kumari.

He published three collections of his works, most important of them being, “Khak-e-Dil” (The Ashes of Heart), which has his representative poems from 1935 to 1970, and which won him the “Sahitya Academy Award” in 1976. ‘Jawaharlal Nehru’ the first Prime Minister of India, asked Jaan Nisar to collate the best Hindustani poetry of last 300 years. Later the first edition of the book titled ‘Hindustan Hamara’ in two volumes was released by ‘Indira Gandhi’ the then Prime Minister. It contains Urdu verses on all topics. The poetry in the first volume is about Indian culture. It covers festivals, deities, cities, mountains, rivers, religious leaders, music and dance. The second volume is about the socio-political consciousness of India between 1857 and 1947. It is also about the freedom movement and up to 25 years after. It is about the aspirations and dreams people had in those days. ‘Hindustan Hamara’ was re-released in Hindi in 2006.

He died in Mumbai, on 19 August 1976, while he was still working on Kamal Amrohi's film, ‘Razia Sultan’.

He was the father of poet, lyricist and script-writer ‘Javed Akhtar’ and psychiatrist and poet ‘Salman Akhtar’, ‘Shahid Akhtar’, writer and journalist ‘Uneza Akhtar’, ‘Albina sharma’ , grandfather of ‘Farhan Akhtar’, ‘Zoya Akhtar’, ‘Kabir Akhtar’, and ‘Nishat Akhtar’. He was also father-in-law of ‘Shabana Azmi’ and ‘Monisha Nayar’.


“Khak-E-Dil”, Publisher: Nagara Tabaat, 1973.

“Hindustan Hamara”, Volume 1 & 2. 1965, 1974.

‘Pichhle Peher”.

"Ghar Aangan"

“Harf-Aashna" and "Zer-e-Lab": Khutoot” (Letters)

“Jaan-Nisar Akhtar Ki Shairi, Urdu Hindi Mein Yakja”, Tr. By Amar Dehlvi. Publisher Star, 1983.

“Kuliyat-E-Jan Nisar Akhtar”. Publisher: Al-Muslim, 1992.

“Hindustan Hamaara ”, Rajkamal Publications, 2006.

“Nigahon Ke Saaye”, Ed. Vijay Akela, Rajkamal Publications, 2006


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