Jigar Moradabadi was the nom de plume of Ali Sikandar, one of the most famous Urdu poets of the 20th century and a celebrated Urdu ghazal writer. Jigar Moradabadi belonged to the classical school of ghazal writing and was a mentor to Majrooh Sultanpuri, who became a prominent lyricist in the Indian film industry and penned many popular songs in Urdu. Jigar was extremely popular with the masses, who regarded him as the People’s Poet. Jigar Moradabadi has become even more popular since his death, as his poetry continues to gain ever more admirers, particularly among film-goers, who are familiar with his lyrics. He received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1958 for his highly acclaimed poetry collection “Atish-i-Gul”.
Jigar Moradabadi is closely associated with the legends of Bhopal. He came to Bhopal in the year 1932.
The reign was of Nawab Hamidullah. During those days, general people of Bhopal kept themselves entertained by organizing sessions of Charbait (a form of musical recital competition of Afgan origin) or games of cards or chess.
With arrival of Jigar Moradabadi, mushairas became the hottest events in Bhopal due to his popularity and fan following.
Jigar Moradabadi was a jolly and straight forward person. When people came to meet him, the meetings used to start at about nine in the night and continue till three in the morning.
However he was uncomfortable with one feature of the society of Bhopal. During those days of Bhopal, it was considered a great offense to talk in front of elders or to answer them. Jigar Sahib was not used to this kind of respect and felt suffocated. His inner sense of mischief wanted to rebel against this straight jacketing by social protocols. He mentioned this to Muhammad Ali Khan Jamai, with whom he was staying in Bhopal.
After long discussions with Maulvi Muhammad Mehndi Sahib, it was decided that an organisation named Dar-ul-kohla (literally, organisation of lazies) would be formed where no consideration would be given to a members age. This club would meet every night at nine and continue till morning three. Johar Qureshi aka Abdul Aziz sahib, the land lord where Jigar was staying with his friend on rent, readily provided a room in his building at the ground floor for the club.
The purpose of the club was to work on kahili (laziness) and spread it!
Fees for admission to this club was a pillow. Every member would require to get one pillow and deposit it at the Dar-ul-kohla. The members would come to the club, weigh their bodies at the door and fall straight from the door to lie down. Going to sleep was, however, not allowed in these meetings.
Seniority was maintained as per the horizontal position of the member he who is lying down could order the member sitting up, and the member sitting up could order the person standing. The member sitting or standing were expected to serve others who were lying down. This serving involved serving water, getting pan and putting it in the mouth of lying down member, getting spittoons for them, filling the hukkah, lighting it etc. Presence of all members was mandatory. Come fire, hail or storm, the members had to be present at nine in the night.
Kahili (laziness) was practiced like a religion in this club. There were twenty five members of this club and four members were kept on probation, who had to go through tough test of laziness to get admission. The head or sadar was Jigar Moradabadi. As aadab or salam (salutations) would require movements, salutations were considered a disgrace and silent salutations were done without getting up.
One day, Maulvi Muhammad Mehndi Sahib was smoking his hukkah while lying down. Accidentally someones hand hit the hukkah, and the fire from hukkah fell on his chest. Without making any effort to get up, Maulvi sahib slowly rolled away till the amber fell from his body and spread on the floor.
Every member was given a title as per their specialty. For example these are some of the titles:
- Jigar Moradabadi, Sadar ul kohla (Head of kohla)
- Mahmood Ali Khan, Nazim ul kohla (Arranger/organizer of kohla)
- Gulam Hussain Khan, Nakib ul kohla (Leader of kohla)
- Maulvi Mohammad Mehdi, Umm ul kohla (Mother of kohla as he was kind by nature and his tummy used to shake and not his lips when he laughed)
The above four were the leaders. Apart from them the other members were:
- Mahmood Azam Fahmi Taramji Bhopali, Fitnat-ul-kohla (Due to his short height)
- Wasit Bhopali, Dabij-ul-kohla (Due to his strong body)
- Sharif Fikri Bhopali, Kubbat-ul-kohla (Due to his tummy resembling the shape of dome)
- Shakir Ali Khan, Tabil-ul-kohla (Due to his innocent face)
- Hakim Latif Hassan, Sabi-ul-kohla (due to his fairness)
- Miyan Ahmed Makki, Nahif-ul-kohla (due to his slim figure)
- Muhammad Ashraf, Kund-ul-kohla (as his tea was served with extra sugar)
- Wasit Bhopali, Malih-ul-kohla (due to his dark complexion)
Other members were Zaki Warsi Bhopali,Shaki Shajahanpuri, Sayyed Manjur Hussain Sarosh, Asgar Seyari Bhopali, Zulfikar ali Khan Shajahanpuri, Sayyed Abdullah Zayedi etc. All these people were from well known families of Bhopal.
A note worthy thing about the titles was, as pronouncing these titles required effort of tongue, which was against the vision of the club, these titles were shortened. Hence Sadar-ul-kohla would become sadrul, umm-ul-kohla would be ummul and so on.
Activities were avoided as that would require efforts. However some events used to occur spontaneously. Like some member would suggest game of carom, or cards or drinking of tea. All the members would vote for or against the suggestion. If agreed upon, Sadarul, Jigar Moradabadi would order his servant Azam Banarasi to make arrangements accordingly.
There was a tradition of Ijtamai food at the kohla. Normally, the members would bring their own food along. However, when Ijtamai food was planned, it was first found out what dish is specialty of a particular family. The person was asked to bring that particular dish for two people. Non-vegetarian food was not preferred as that would escalate the cost. This food for fifty people brought by the twenty five members, would be shared with specially invited non members.
During this period, Punjabis had a very strong presence in Bhopal. There was a distinct discomfort and dislike for the Punjabi community in Dar-ul-kohla.
Jigar sahib once famously said at the kohla
Betab hain, Bekhwab hain malum nahin kyun
Dil e mahi be aab hai malum nahin kyun.
Bhopal ke galiyon mein jidhar dekhiye har su
Punjab hi Punjab hai malum nahi kyun.
UP bhi hai, CP bhi hai, sube toh bahut hain
Ek suba-e-Punjab hai, malum nahi kyun.
Jigar Moradabadi, a known alcoholic, used to drink a lot during this period. However he was never seen drunk in the club. During his stay in Bhopal, a local gunda reportedly kidnapped him once, and let him go only after a private recital !
This club, Dar-ul-kohla, disintegrated after Jigar Moradabadi left Bhopal.