Why can’t a Parsi pen Urdu poetry, asks orthodontist
Since most of his friends, says Dr Kotwal, cannot read Urdu, he collaborated with ghazal-bhajan singer Anoop Jalota and cut an album titled Aashiqana. Tired of hearing the factually incorrect but a popular line nevertheless “Urdu musalman ki zuban hai(Urdu is the language of the Muslims)“, Kotwal responds with a couplet: “Urdu na musalman na Hindu ki hai zubanIshq, wafa ke rang ki khushboo ki hai zubaan (Urdu is a language neither of Muslims nor Hindus It is a language of love, loyalty and fragrance). Such maudlin praise for Urdu which is not his mother tongue comes out of a conviction that language doesn’t have a religion. “It is the communal politics which divides a language along religious line. The vote bank politics has only compounded the crisis,“ he explains.
Growing up in Mumbai (then Bombay) when it was home to poetic giants like Ali Sardar Jafri, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Sahir Ludhianvi and Kaifi Azmi, Dr Kotwal says he fell in love with Urdu when in college. Since his father Shavak Kotwal was a film distributor, he would often meet poets and lyricists. The temptation to learn the language took him to a bookshop on Mohammed Ali Road where he bought a primer and subsequently hired a maulvi. But maulvisaab could only teach him the language, not the finer points of poetry. For that he approached Shafique Abbas, a former Urdu teacher and poet at Anjuman-IIslam near CST.
The technique of creating correct couplets fine-tuned, Dr Kotwal started reading voraciously and now writes prolifically. He plans to bring out a collection of his ghazals soon. “Then I will be called a Parsi with a book in Urdu,“ he laughs.