Rahi Masoom Raza Death Anniversary: Lesser-known Facts About the Poet

Tuesday marks the 30th death anniversary of poet and writer Rahi Masoom Raza, fondly called Raza Saab by artists in the Hindi film industry. Rahi Masoom Raza was born in Gangauli village in Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh. He was an Aligarh Muslim University alumna, from where he obtained his doctorate in Hindi literature. Raza went on to teach at AMU and was quite popular among his students. Raza also went on to write dialogues for several Hindi movies. However, he is most remembered for writing dialogues for B.R. Chopra’s television series Mahabharat.

Let us take a look at some of the lesser-known facts about Rahi Masoom Raza:

He was an important figure in the Hindi circles who could be described as the epitome of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb. Some of his notable novels include Adha Gaon, Dil Ek Sada Kaghaz, Topi Shukla, Oos Ki Boond, among others. Raza also wrote Chhote Aadmi ki Badi Kahani, a story of the 1965 war hero Abdul Hamid, which the then home minister Y.B. Chavan got disseminated widely, on radio, school textbooks, etc., to counter the rising anti-Muslim sentiment.

It was in the 1970s when Raza had come to Mumbai to try his hand at writing films. He went on to write screenplays and dialogues for over 200 films and won several awards. He became one of the highest-paid writers.

Writer, filmmaker, poet, and media guru Amit Khanna describes Raza as an “impressive personality.” Khanna mentioned in an article for The Wire, that Raza always wore a crisp white kurta, Aligarhi pyjamas, and a waistcoat. He always chewed paan and was a charming conversationalist.

Raza happened to be among the few writers who were scholars in Hindi but wrote in Urdu, hence showing their exemplary skills in both languages.

Raza’s lesser-known work Scene: 75, is often touted as an autobiographical work. The novel narrates the story of a writer in Bollywood in a sarcastic and witty manner. The novel paints the picture of the Hindi film industry in the 1970s and is told from the perspective of writers.

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