The relationship between me and Rahat Sir is like that of Eklavya and Dronacharya. He was my teacher in absentia. I have learned the art of communication from him. I have learned how to engage the audience, how to use non-verbal communication skills, how to modulate voice, how to cater to the needs and demands of audience, how to open the doors to the hearts of the audience through romantic and humorous poetry and then walk in with your revolutionary poetry.
I have never had the good fortune of meeting Rahat Sir, and I have attended his live session just once. But, having noticed him through his videos a few years back, I was mesmerized and knew at once that this teacher has so many unconventional things to teach me. As a learner and teacher of communication myself, I was hooked, at once, to the class of Rahat Sir.
Noticed how he performed these lines:
Lagegi aag to aayenge ghar kaee zad mein
yaha pe sirf hamara makaan thodi hai
or these famous ones
Bulati hai magar jaane ka nahi
yeh duniya hai idhar jaane ka nahi
woh gardan naapta hai naap le
magar zaalim se darr jaane ka nahi
Most of you would have seen Rahat Sir’s performance on stage – either live or through recorded videos. A few hours would be less time to listen to him and to let his full performance be manifest. While most people would know Rahat Sir as an Urdu Poet, to do what he did, he played multiple roles at once.
He was not just a poet but also a lyricist who understood rhythm and writing for the situations. He was not just a poet but also a teacher and treated his audience as a class of boisterous boys giving those small doses of wisdom and experiences. He was not just a poet but also an actor who delivered dialogues in his unique style feeling every word. He was not just a poet but a master communicator who knew how to catch the pulse of the audience – always looking for the body language of his audience, their hooting, their claps, and their silence.
He was not just a poet but a legend when it came to speaking through his actions while reciting his poetry – it’s only parallel to another legend, that is Jaun Eliya. To notice the non-verbal communication or body language of Rahat Sir, you should watch his videos on mute so that you are not distracted by the magic of his poetry.
The way he winked, closed and opened his eyes, turned his head to the side, made and broke eye contact with the audience, looked at the sky as if talking to clouds or moon, and raised his arms and the sheer energy he poured into them was a magic to behold.
The above video is an example of his mastery in crowd engagement.
Despite extreme popularity both in Urdu Poetry and with Bollywood, he unlike other Bollywood lyricists never gave in to the charm of Bollywood and left his academic writing pursuits. Like other Bollywood lyricists, he never became apolitical or balanced the perspectives. He spoke out whatever was in his burning heart without taking names of any political leaders–however, the message was always clear for those who could understand. He was quite vocal during recent protests on the Citizenship bill and that is why he alienated a certain section of the society which was a votary of the Government agenda. He didn’t care much.
Woh chahta tha ki kaasa khareed le mera
Main uske Taaj ki qeemat laga ke laut aaya
While he spoke openly against the current regime, his Shayari rejuvenated the genre of Nationalistic poetry, turning the table on to those who asked for proof of nationalism from Muslims.
Main mar jau to meri ek alag pehchaan likhna
lahu se meri peshani pe Hindustan likhna
The year 2020 has stolen a lot from us, and an irreparable loss to the Indian Urdu Poetry is Rahat Indori Sahab who left us on August 11, 2020. We pray that he gets immense rahat in his resting place.
Do gaz sahi yeh meri milkiyat to hai
Ae maut tu ne mujhe Zameendaar kar diya