By  - Dr. Khalid Sohail           

          It was a wonderful experience for me to interview Nida Fazli during his visit to Toronto. He is not only a popular Urdu poet but also a well-respected screen-play writer for television. He is multitalented as an artist and multi-faceted as a person. His art extends from the written word to the moving image, from the blank paper of the notebook to the colorful screen of the television. He is one of those talented artists who feels comfortable and confident in expressing himself and communicating with the masses in more than one medium.

            During our interview he shared his views about creative process. He believes that creating great poetry and art are part of an involuntary process as they depend upon the unconscious mind. That is why great poets and artists cannot produce masterpieces voluntarily. They have to wait to receive those creative gifts from the muse.

The questions arise:

Where do these creative gifts come from?

What inspires the artist to create those wonderful pieces of poetry and art?

Nida Fazli believes that poet’s personal encounters with life, especially those in which poet is emotionally and creatively involved are a great source of inspiration as they stimulate the artist’ unconscious mind. He shared two of his personal examples. It was Interesting for me to note that both encounters involved women.

The first encounter was with a beautiful young woman. Nida Fazli was fascinated by her smile and used to fantasize about her. His involvement and fascination with that smile inspired him to write a series of poems about her.

The second encounter was with an innocent little girl Nida Fazli saw every morning on the bus stop while he went for a walk. He used to say ‘Hello’ to her but she used to ignore him. But one morning she came running to him stating that she had seen him on television the night before. She called him ‘uncle’ to connect with him emotionally. Nida Fazli’s emotional involvement with that little girl inspired him to go looking for her when he did not see her for a few days as there was a war in the country and all the schools were closed. After he found her he asked her parents if he could take her picture. They were amused by the whole experience. That little girl whole name was Shurdha inspired him to write a poem by that name. He wanted to send her picture and his poem to the politicians of Pakistan and India as a symbol of peace and love at the time of war.

            Both these encounters of Nida Fazli highlight how an artist’s involvement with life inspires him to create wonderful poetry, literature and art.

            The question arises how does creative self start expressing itself in the first place? Nida Fazli shared that he grew up in a family and environment where poetry was part of culture. His father knew hundreds of poems and Nida Fazli memorized dozens of Urdu poems as a child and a teenager. He also wrote many traditional romantic poems himself that his class fellows found entertaining.

            But then an incident took place that changed him completely. It was painful and inspiring at the same time. He fell in love with a girl that was in his class. Because of his shyness and conservative community he never met her or talked to her. But he used to watch her from a distance as he was fascinated by her presence. And then one day he read the news that she was killed in an accident. After reading that painful news he fell apart. His reaction surprised him as he was attached to a woman he had never talked to. He wanted to share his feelings. He remembered all couplets and poems that he had read and remembered but none of them expressed his feelings. That is when he realized that he had to create his own poetry to express his unique observations, experiences and encounters. That is where he left the highway of tradition and followed the trail of his heart and started creating poetry that was in his unique style. That is when creative self experienced a breakthrough.

            Nida Fazli shared that each medium of expression has its own values and the artist has to familiarize himself with its traditions and expectations and learn the craft. Each discipline in art has developed its independent aesthetic values and new pieces of art are judged on the yardstick of those values. After the artist learns the tradition and masters the art then he can improvise, otherwise people as well as the discipline might not accept his work of art. Nida Fazli shared that some novels are wonderful to read but very hard to show on the screen. They cannot be transformed into an exciting screen-play, as they do not have the visuals, the images and the three dimensional characters that would be needed to create a powerful screen play. It is because the tradition of novel is very different that from the tradition of the teleplay and film.

            Nida Fazli also discussed how the creative process transforms the personality of the artist. He believes that the creative people are born three times in their lifetime

…born from the wombs of their mothers

…born from their communities

…born from themselves

To become artists the creative people have to get in touch with their creative self and then master the craft to be able to create art. It might a painful process but most artists believe that it is worthwhile in the end as creating art offers them great satisfaction and makes their lives meaningful. 

            Nida Fazli also highlighted that following one’s heart in art also affects one’s lifestyle. He shared that when followed his unconventional thinking and non-traditional lifestyle he had to face social and cultural dilemmas. When he fell in love with a charming woman and wanted to live with her he realized that since they were from different religious traditions, they could not get legally married in India. So they decided to live common law. As a creative person he had not only to create new avenues for art but also new lifestyles.

            Since artists want to explore new philosophies in life it is not uncommon for their families and communities to criticize their personalities and lifestyles. It brings them in conflict with their social environments and sometimes they have to offer grave sacrifices if they want to continue with their creative journeys. When Nida Fazli’s family moved to Pakistan he chose to stay behind in India. Because of such choice he felt homeless in his own home and homeland. For a while it created fear in him and he felt lonely but then he transformed his emotional pains in his poems and plays and that is how a poet and an artist is different than other people around him. Other people might suffer as much as artists do but they are not able to communicate their suffering with others effectively as they cannot transform their pains into poems, plays and paintings.

            Interview with Nida Fazli gave me a lot to think about. He made me aware how artists relate to themselves, other people and nature in their own unique ways. Nida Fazli shared how he relates not only to children but also to animals, birds even trees in a creative way. He shared how he developed a special relationship with crows that visit him every morning and the tree in his backyard and how spending some time with his special tree in silence helps him complete many of his incomplete poems. He highlights the significance of private time to day dream in the busy day to day life to get in touch with one’s unconscious, reservoir of one’s creative energy, one’s creative self to receive special gifts of the muse.