At a time when Urdu poetry embraced themes of melancholy, irony andsadness[FS1] , Shahryar introduced a new chapter in modernism within Urdu poetry. Born and brought up in Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh), he came to Aligarh in 1948 to pursue higher education. Initially, he was mentored by Khalil ur Rehman Azmi, who is remembered for his pioneering work in modern Urdu poetry. Among his seniors, he acknowledged the influence of great poets such as Faiz, Meeraji, Munir Niyazi and Akhtarul Iman. The closeness of Shahryar to the Hindi department of Aligarh Muslim University, guided him to new heights of creativity which resulted in a healthy exchange of thoughts.
In 1965, his first collection of poetry ‘Ism-E-Azam’ was published. Critics began to recognize him as an emotional and ingenious writer who was able to touchupon the major issues of society with calmness and modesty. As a modern progressive poet, Shahryar covered all the connotations of dreams in classic style. For his works, ‘Saatwan Dar’ and ‘Neend Ki Karchiyan’, Shahryar received state literary awards by the governments of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal respectively. Some of his other notable works include ‘Hijr Ka Mausam’ and ‘Khwab Ka Dar Band Hai’ . He was the fourth Urdu poet to become the recipient of the prized Jnanpith Award. Apart from rich literary contributions, he has also written a number of songs for Bollywood films such as Umrao Jaan and Gaman.
After a few years of togetherness, Shahryar and his wife separated due to some misunderstanding. This disappointment, coupled with loneliness, drove him towards alcoholism. Not being able to win the fight against lung cancer, Shahryar passed away at the age of 76. He was finally laid to rest in the University graveyard at Aligarh.