Legendary poet Kaifi Azmi was a staunch believer of equality outside and within his family, so much so, that his fondness for daughter-in-law Tanvi Azmi would even leave daughter Shabana Azmi “insecure”. Tanvi, who’s married to Kaifi Azmi’s son and cinematographer Baba Azmi, revealed that her biggest support during the inter-caste marriage was her father-in-law.
“He used the endearment ‘Dulhan Pasha’ (honourable bride) to address me. It’s like putting the bahu on a pedestal,” Tanvi told Pinkvilla on Kaifi Azmi’s 20th death anniversary on Tuesday.
Kaifi was an Urdu exponent, a literature laureate and a film lyricist, married to theater and film actor Shaukat Azmi. Recalling how Kaifi held the women of the house and around him in high regard, Tanvi added that her ‘Abba’ practiced what he wrote. “His work was in sync with his philosophy that women should be respected. Be it his wife, daughter, or daughter-in-law, he accorded the same respect to each one of us. To the extent that it sometimes made Shabana insecure with the amount of love and affection, Abba showered on me,” Tanvi said.
This would leave Shabana Azmi, a Bollywood legend herself, insecure. But according to Tanvi, her father-in-law had his way to appease his daughter too, who he affectionately called ‘chiriya’ and ‘gulab ka phool’. Though “hell broke loose” when Shabana once overheard him telling Tanvi, “Bete, tum mere gulab ke phool ho.”
“She (Shabana) asked him, ‘Abba aapne Tanvi ko gulab ka phool kaha?’ His quick retort was, ‘Nahi bete, main toh gobi ka phool (cauliflower) keh raha tha.’ Then he looked into my direction suggesting ‘don’t give me away’,” Tanvi said in the interview with a smile.
Even his last days in the ICU couldn’t deter his zest for life. Tanvi shared that whenever she would ask him about his health, he would reply ‘First class!’ Later, when it got difficult for him to speak, he would raise his thumb to imply ‘first class’.
Kaifi Azmi is a recipient of two National Awards — Best Lyrics for Saat Hindustani and Best Story for Garam Hawa.