Tuesday, Dec 26, 2023

Express View: Amrita Pritam & Imroz

Theirs was an unusual story, full of affection, generosity and poetry

Pyar sabse saral ibaadat hai, behte paani jaisi, love is the simplest worship, like flowing water, wrote painter and poet Imroz in his poem, Ibaadat. Like most of Imroz’s poetry, these lines, too, were dedicated to his partner and writer Amrita Pritam, one of the most significant women writers from Punjab and a leading voice in the 20th century.

Theirs was an unusual love story. In the ’50s, a few years after she became a household name post her seminal work from 1947 — Ajj akhhan Waris Shah nu — which captured the pain and loss of Partition, Amrita met Indarjeet Chitrakar, better known as Imroz.

From Lyallpur in undivided Punjab, at the time, Imroz illustrated for the Urdu magazine, Shama, and also designed posters for films — he worked for Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa in 1957. After Imroz passed away last week in Mumbai at 97, his last rites were performed by Amrita’s granddaughter Shilpi, who looked after him till the end.


Imroz was seven years younger to Amrita, and an admirer of her work, when he fell in love with her. The two began living together when Amrita was still married to her husband, Pritam Singh, and even as her own affection was reserved for poet Sahir Ludhianvi, who never committed to her. Imroz would drop Pritam at the AIR building, pick her up after her programme and drop her home on his scooter. Sitting behind him, she would trace Sahir’s name on his back. “How he bore the weight of these words on his back I do not know. I only knew he accepted me, my madness,” Amrita wrote in her autobiography, Rasidi Ticket.

A writer once asked Imroz if he was ever jealous of Sahir. “Not at all,” he said. “A person who is loved by Amrita is dear to me, too. That is why you will see a picture of Sahir in my room.”

First published on: 26-12-2023 at 07:15 IST
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