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Chartered Accountant and IIM Graduate Is Now a Path-Breaking ‘Hindustani Musalman’

Haidry’s debut film as a lyricist was ‘Gurgaon’. He wrote two songs for the film – ‘Aiyyash Chore’ solo and ‘Udi’ in collaboration with Varun Grover.

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“I make random life choices… most of them are regrettable” says the Twitter bio of the latest sensation in the spoken word poetry world, Hussain Haidry.

However, he is definitely not regretting his choice of leaving a highly paid job in Kolkata and moving to Mumbai to become a poet and lyricist. Within a year of this shift, Hussain has already written lyrics for three movies and is a well-known face representing the Hindustani Musalman – Indian Muslim.
But when we ask him to share something for his viewers he says that people have mistaken his poem as a question of nationality, whereas it was all about the beautiful diversity that India is.

Listen to ‘Hindustani Musalman’ Here –

“I am an Indian. If you read the poem, it basically talks about the diversity that India is. It does not talk about a nationality because nationality cannot be defined by diversity. Is nationality a legal thing right? I mean I have a passport, I have an Aadhaar, I have every other document, I have a driving license, and I was born in India. I have a birth certificate of India. I am technically an Indian by birth. That is out of the question over here. When I say Hindustani Musalman, it’s the diversity of India that divides any religion into various stretch and fashion. And you can pull up any community and find the same parameter of differences arising in from one person to another,” he explains.

Hussain was born in Indore where he attended school and went on to become a chartered accountant. He later obtained an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Indore and worked as Head of Finance at a company in Kolkata.

However, in December 2015 he left his job and moved to Mumbai to become a full-time lyricist and author. He still takes up few finance projects during the day as more writing work is flowing in.
But for someone at the peak of his career, was it easy to just leave everything for his passion?
“Of course it was difficult to leave a well-settled career in finance and accounts. I was the head of finance of the company I was working for in Kolkata, and from there I became one struggling writer in Bombay. It was quite a plunge,” he answers while talking to TBI from Mumbai.
The initial days were not much rewarding. Hussain would look for open mics and attend as many of them as possible. But one thing he swears by is his nack for reading. This Sahir Ludhianvi fan claims that he had never written a word of poetry in his early years. Rather he would wonder how people could write poetry.
“All I knew about poetry back then were those poems written by students in the annual school magazine. I would wonder how they do it. I started reading more only when I was doing CA in Indore. The first line that I distinctly remember, remembering and reciting in my head over and over again was by Sahir Ludhiyanvi – Ye Duniya Agar mil Bhi Jaye To Kya Hai,” says Hussain.
Hussain started with popular poets like Sahir Ludhiyanvi, Nida Fazli, Bashir Badr, Javed Akhtar and Gulzar and slowly moved on to the list of all contemporary, then progressive and finally classic poets like Ghalib too.
Though he agrees that once he went on to do MBA and took up a job in finance, his love for poetry faded out a little.
“First I did my MBA. After that, I started doing a job. Income tax, office law and all took over. So poetry was left by the wayside.” he said.

Hussain got his first break when he was featured by Kommune in one of their videos in July 2016. It was an open mic event at the Poetry club in association with Kommune and Hussain had performed ‘Lat’, a poem on smoking.

For his next performance, which went on to be a major hit, Hussain recalled just two lines he had written a year ago while waiting to set off on a trip from Kolkata to Bhutan. That morning he heard the sound of the azaan, and the first lines of the poem came to him –

“Sadak Pe Cigarette Pite Waqt Jo Aazaan Sunayi Di Mujhko, To Yaad Aaya Ki Waqt Hai Kya, Aur Baat Zehan Me Ye Aayi – Main Kaisa Musalman Hu Bhai?” (What type of Muslim am I?)
 It was a completely different poem then, and he had lost his diary. After a year Hussain could remember only these two lines and wrote the present poem. Though the video came just a few days before Valentine’s day this year and Hussain had very few hopes of attracting more people towards this serious poem, the poem was an instant hit and got more than 5 lakh views on Youtube.
And then there was no looking back! Hussain was invited to many events and talk shows including NDTV’s Prime Time and ‘The Buck Stops Here’. According to Hussain not much have changed after the overnight fame that he has got.
“Just that I am invited to few more poetry events than before. People consider me at least a decent new writer now. I consider it very valuable because a little bit of validation, however little it is, I am happy with it. It gives certain faith when you come up to the audience on the stage. Of course, there is a lot of pressure also because a lot of people are going to be listening to it.”
This modest poet, who has recently given lyrics to three movies, shares his secret – “Importantly, I just write for myself so I just feel happy writing it. Everything else that comes along later is a by-product or a follow-up. As long as one is happy, it is rewarding enough.”

Haidry’s debut film as a lyricist was ‘Gurgaon’. He wrote two songs for the film – ‘Aiyyash Chore’ solo and ‘Udi’ in collaboration with Varun Grover.

Hussain Haidry
He wrote the lyrics for the film ‘Mukkabaaz’ which premiered at the Mumbai Film Festival in 2017. And the latest one is ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’.
Hussain considers himself very lucky to reach till here but still considers himself as more of a reader than a writer. He wishes that more literary poets who have been awarded and honoured but still unread by many should fill in the gap between the world of books and video.
Finally when we ask him if his poem,’ Hindustani Musalman’ where he says – ‘Mera Ek Mahina Ramzan Bhi Hai. Maine Kiya To Ganga Snan Bhi Hai’, contradicts the communal tensions in the country, he has a beautiful answer –
“The women in my house create Rangoli designs during Diwali. During Moharram, all people go to Mohammad Ali road and eat Biryani. They don’t see what festival it is or which religion it belongs to. People just want to celebrate. Lighting diyas or anything else, I am just concerned about the celebration, not the religion. I really hate the old community tensions during festivals because despite my lack of belief at large in religion, I do like festivals because it brings people together. It’s more of a social activity for me than it is a religious affair. Festivals are largely civil.”
Read more poems by Hussain Haidry here.

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Written by Manabi Katoch

A Mechanical Engineer-turned-writer, Manabi finds solace in writing stories about unsung heroes. Nothing makes her happier than the impact emails from her readers. Other than writing, she loves listening to the stories told by her six year old daughter. Manabi can be reached at manabi@thebetterindia.com. You can also find her tweets @manabi5