“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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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?)
“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.”
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.
“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.”