Azmi’s work ranged from passionate love poems and activist verses to Bollywood song lyrics and screenplays.
Born as Syed Athar Hussain Rizvi on January 14, 1919 in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Azmi composed his first poem when he was 11.
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s 1942 Quit India freedom movement, Azmi later left for Mumbai to write for an Urdu newspaper. He then published his first collection of poems, Jhankar (1943), and became a member of the influential Progressive Writers’ Association that used writing to try to achieve socioeconomic reforms.
Azmi was prolific and won numerous awards for his contributions, including three Filmfare Awards for Garm Hawa (“Scorching Winds,” 1973), the prestigious Padma Shri Award for Literature and Education (1974), and one of India’s highest literary honours, the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship (2002).
In one of his early and most famous poems, “Aurat,” Amzi advocated for women’s equality, one of the causes he championed in his lifetime. He also founded the NGO Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS) to support various educational initiatives to improve the lives of rural women and families, and to this day, MWS continues its work in the spirit of its founder.
Azmi has become one of the most renowned poets of the 20th century in India, and his humanitarian efforts continue to impact people’s lives today.
The poet died on May 10, 2002.
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