A few days ago, BBC Urdu broadcast a documentary about the love story of Khairpur State ruler Mir Ali Nawaz Naz and singer Bali. The Urdu video is also available on the BBC Urdu YouTube channel. Mumtaz Bukhari did the research and compiling. Here’s a brief overview in English.
Iqbal Begum or Bali
Iqbal Begum aka Bali was a singer from Lahore’s Heera Mandi, a district known for its concubinage culture, dancing, and singing. Mir Ali Nawaz ‘Naz,’ the prince of Khairpur, heard her voice in the streets of Heeramandi, imprisoning him in her love. Mir Ali Nawaz was a student at Aitchison College in Lahore at the time.
When word reached Khairpur that Mir Ali Nawaz (who was already married) was having an affair with Bali, his father, Mir Imam Bux Talpur, was enraged and rushed him back to Khairpur. On the one hand, the prince’s father and, on the other, the Bali family were opposed to their marriage.
Prince Mir Ali Nawaz was so desperate that he sent a long and comprehensive letter to the Indian British government, explaining to them that he loves Bali and has given her family a lot of money and gifts, but her brothers are refusing to let her marry me.
Advice by the princes of India
When the Prince went to the meeting of the princes of India, the other princes present tried to persuade Mir Ali Nawaz not to go ahead with his plans to marry Bali, fearing that if he did, his father, the ruler of Khairpur, Mir Imam Bux Talpur, would depose him from his position as Crown Prince of Khairpur and the throne.
Probably because of this, he was not permitted to succeed to the throne of Khairpur until six months after his father’s death.
Marriage with Bali
He married Bali and took her to Khairpur as soon as he rose to the throne and became the ruler of the State. Despite the fact that she ruled his heart, she was not permitted to reside in the official palace. Instead, Dilshad Manzil, a smaller palace, was built for her to live in.
She used to host musical and singing events for him there. Dilshad Manzil’s roof is covered in beautiful murals. Poetic mushaira took place in a hall within the Dilshad Manzil.
Rose blossoms used to adorn the Dilshad Manzil’s park, and plucked roses were weighed every morning to equal her weight, and she used to spend some time there in the roses.
At the time, several important advancements were taking place in other parts of the subcontinent. While Gandhi had started the civil disobedience campaign in India, Iqbal offered the idea of a separate state for the Muslims of the subcontinent. Mir Ali Nawaz Naz, on the other hand, seemed relatively unconcerned and uninterested in what was going on around him.
Estrangement and the train to Lahore
Bali begum used to become angry about little matters and would depart for Lahore on a regular basis. For some inexplicable reason, when she returned to her family in Lahore. Mir sahib levied the dhal land revenue tax a year in advance and booked an entire train to Lahore. He took the train to Bali’s family with all of his state’s prominent dignitaries to urge her to return.
As a result of her haughty attitude and excessive demands, the relationship began to show cracks. Mir Ali Nawaz distanced himself from her over time. He decided to spend his dying days in the desert, and she was not permitted to accompany him. She pleaded with the people to let her see him, but they would not. Mir Ali Nawaz “Naz” died just ten years after their marriage. Bali, on the other hand, lived for several years more, but only with the memory of her prince.