This is the first attempt to put together the story of Urdu journalism and Urdu literature. In Urdu Literature and Journalism: Critical Perspectives Shafey Kidwai has made space for Ghalib and Faiz, Firaq Gorakhpuri and Manto, Premchand and Rabindranath Tagore. Talking of Tagore, Kidwai puts an entirely new spin to the stalwart’s image. He treads new territories, talks of Tagore’s influence on contemporary Urdu writers and poets and, through famous poet Josh Malihabadi, makes bold to say something not oft-heard in literary quarters.
That Tagore had another not-entirely-laudable side. Kidwai reproduces what Malihabadi wrote in his autobiography, Yaadon ki Baraat. Recalling the six months he spent in Santiniketan at the Tagore’s invitation the poet wrote: “He was obsessed with a thing that left me completely annoyed. It was his penchant for publicity…Whenever a foreigner came for his interview, he would sit at a high-up place after getting himself fully spruced up.... he would give the interview in such a manner that the interview seeker would get the impression that he was speaking to a divinity.”