Sahir Ludhianvi's notes, poems found in Mumbai scrapstore

A bunch of handwritten letters, diaries, nazm, and black and white photographs of legendary Urdu poet Sahir Ludhianvi, found at a scrap shop in Mumbai, India, has been bought by an NGO for INR3,000.

The Mumbai-based Film Heritage Foundation, which found the items in a dump of newspapers and magazines at a Juhu scrap shop, plans to preserve and exhibit the archives, reported The Tribune quoting Press Trust of India (PTI).

Heartbreaking to find that Sahir Ludhianvi’s great lyricist poet early days photos,letters,hand written notes and poems all thrown to the scrap dealer just like the film Pyaasa” …Film Heritage Foundation is proud to rescue them and preserve them in our archive….

— Shivendra Dungarpur (@shividungarpur) September 7, 2019

“The diaries found have details of his daily routines like where he would be going for song recording and other personal life happenings. Then there are several poems and notes. The notes are related to his publishing house ‘Parchaian’,” Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, the founding director of the foundation, told PTI.

He added, “There are letters addressed to him from prominent people of the time like music composer Ravi, his friend and poet Harbans. Some of the letters are in English, and some in Urdu. Rest, all work is in Urdu.”

Then there are photographs — some individual, some with his sisters and friends and some of his home in Punjab. The foundation’s experts are analysing the poems and finding out which ones that haven’t been published, said Dungapur.

“This is reminiscent of a scene from Guru Dutt’s ‘Pyaasa’ where the protagonist’s poems and writings are found at a scrap shop,” he said.

Sahir had written songs for the 1957 film, now considered a cult classic. Several situations in the film, whose protagonist played by Dutt too was a poet, were based on Sahir’s life.

Dungarpur said his foundation had purchased the entire collection of Sahir’s items, stressing how the invaluable work of the master poet had landed in a quaint scrap shop in a Mumbai bylane.

“Our team is always on the lookout for such film-related works. We once found original film reel of Guru Dutt’s ‘Bharosa’ and actress Sadhna’s items in similar condition and have restored them,” he said.

Afsos hota in cheezon ko aisi haalat mein dekh ke (it is saddening to find such articles in this condition). But we are happy that we are able to find and preserve them,” he added.

The Film Heritage Foundation now hopes to restore these archival items, digitise the documents and preserve them.

“The findings are very significant. If these are handwritten notes and letters that increases its value and could be used by researchers,” said Abdur Rasheed, Urdu professor at Jamia Milia Islamia in New Delhi.

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