The campaign to resurrect the poetic legacy of Mirza Ghalib, the
iconic 19th century classical Sufi lyricist and poet, is gathering
momentum with the installation of his bust Sunday at his family
home here on the eve of his 213th birth anniversary.
The Mirza Ghalib Haveli is located at Gali Qasim Jaan near
Ballimaran in Chandi Chowk, the old Mughal quarters of the
Ghalib, who was born in Agra in 1797 into a family of Aibak Turks,
wrote in Urdu. He witnessed the decline of the Mughal empire and
the independence war of 1857, about which he wrote extensively. He
penned hundreds of ghazals that have been sung by exponents in the
last 200 years. After losing his father early, he was raised by
his uncle. Ghalib spent his adult life in the capital.
The mansion, which had degenerated into a dilapidated home, was
restored to a memorial with the help of the Delhi government and a
citizens' initiative led by noted Kathak exponent Uma Sharma in
The bust, commissioned by Oscar-winning lyricist Gulzar, has been
sculpted by Bhagwan Rampure, a well-known artist from Sholapur in
The bust will be unveiled by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit
Sunday, a day before Ghalib's birthday, in the presence of Gulzar,
writer Pawan Varma, danseuse Uma Sharma and hundreds of Mirza
Also on Sunday, Gulzar will join citizens of the capital for a
candlelight march from Chandi Chowk's main square to Ghalib's
haveli in an annual ritual as a tribute to the poet.
On Monday there will be a cultural soiree at the India Islamic
Cultural Centre featuring interpretation's Ghalib's works through
dance, music, readings and recitations. The event could not be
held at Ghalib's haveli due to paucity of space.
The birthday celebrations will be presided over by Vice President
Announcing the unveiling of Ghalib's bust, Gulzar said Friday he
had commissioned it "so that people could see it and identified
the mansion as Ghalib's home".
"When I went to Russia, I saw Tolstoy's and Puskin's busts that
were installed by the government. Delhi has several busts and
statues, but I have not seen one of Ghalib's. I told Pawan Varma:
'Let me install a bust of Mirza Ghalib'.
"I got in touch with my old friend Rampure at his Sholapur studio
and told him to sculpt a bust of Ghalib. Rampure is known for his
bust sculptures and public art installations. He has set up an
academy where young students are honing their skills," Gulzar
"I am associated with a movement to resurrect Ghalib's legacy. I
wish along with Shakespeare, Ghalib, Tagore and Kalidasa are
taught in schools and colleges as part of the regular curiculum,"
the lyricist, who is translating Rabindranath Tagore's work, said.
He said a portrait of Mirza Ghalib commissioned by late president
Zakir Hussain served as the blueprint for the sculpture. Gulzar
has also serialised the poet and his works in a six-and-a-half
Danseuse Uma Sharma, who is leading a movement since 2001 to
resurrect Ghalib's legacy, said she "brought the plight of
Ghalib's home to the notice of the Delhi government after which it
Pawan Varma, who has written a book on Mirza Ghalib, "The Man: The
Times", said: "Delhi's historical heritage was subject to neglect
because people were ignorant and there was certain amount of
amnesia associted with the capital's legacy."
"Ghalib is a great metaphor for the culture of the city," Varma