I was editing Me magazine for DNA when I first met Akshay Manwani. He was researching for a book on Sahir Ludhianvi, he said, and wondered if I had inputs to share beyond what I had written in my book about his work in Pyaasa. He told me too that he had given up his corporate job to write this book, and I remember the sharp feeling of empathy and admiration that his statement evoked. Almost four years later, Manwani presented me with his book.
Biographies are a tricky business. Depending on the writer and the material he has at hand, the result could be anything between a painting with light and shade or colour and a doodle that teases and leaves the reader wanting more. Manwani, however, has crafted a sculpture. Using the clay of interviews, records, other published material and his own comments, he ensures his Sahir stands tall among his contemporaries, eyes ablaze with a passion that alternately speaks of his socialistic fervour and a series of unsuccessful romances. And of course, his poems embellish his stance, set like jewels in the telling of the story of his life.