Born in Delhi, India into a Kashmiri family, Nida Fazli grew up in Gwalior, where he attended school and subsequently studied English literature. His father was also an Urdu poet. During the partitioning of India, his parents migrated to Pakistan, but Fazli decided to stay in India.
While still young, Fazli was passing by a Hindu temple where a bhajan singer was singing a composition of Surdas about Radha sharing her sorrow with her maids at being separated from her beloved Krishna. The poetic beauty of the Pad, relating to the close rapport and bonding between human beings, inspired Nida to begin writing poems.
During that period, he felt that there were limitations in Urdu poetry. He absorbed the essence of Mir and Ghalib to express what he intended. He was fascinated by the lyrical mood of Meera and Kabir and widened his knowledge of poetry by studying T. S. Eliot, Gogol and Anton Chekhov.
He moved to Mumbai in search of a job in 1964. In the early days of his career, he wrote in Dharmayug and Blitz . His poetic style attracted the notice of filmmakers and writers of Hindi and Urdu literature. He was often invited to Mushairas, the prestigious recitation sessions of one's own poetry. He became known among readers and ghazal singers for his elegant presentation and exclusive use of colloquial language for ghazals, dohaas and nazms, while avoiding ornate Persian imagery and compound words to simplify his poetry. He wrote the famous couplet: 'Duniya jise kehte hain jaadu kaa Khilona hai Mil jaaye to mitti hai kho jaaye to sona hai'. Some of his famous film songs include Aa bhi jaa (Sur), Tu is tarah se meri zindagi mein (Aap To Aise Na The) and Hosh waalon ko khabar Kya (Sarfarosh). He wrote essays critical of contemporary poets of the sixties in his book Mulaqatein which outraged poets including Sahir Ludhianvi, Ali Sardar Jafri and Kaifi Azmi. As a result, he was boycotted in some poetic sessions. His career improved when Kamal Amrohi, a filmmaker, approached him. The original songwriter Jan Nisar Akhtar working on the film Razia Sultan (1983) had died before completing the project. Nida wrote the final two songs and attracted other Hindi filmmakers.
His celebrated lyrics were also used in Aap to aise na the, Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin (1996) and Gudiya. He wrote the title song of TV serials like Sailaab, Neem ka Ped, Jaane Kya Baat Hui and Jyoti. The composition "Koi Akelaa Kahaan" is another popular composition sung by Kavita Krishnamurthy. His ghazals and other compositions are sung by notable artists of the day. He teamed up with Jagjit Singh in 1994 to bring an album named Insight, which got appreciation for its soulful poetry and music. Shortly before his death he wrote columns for BBC Hindi website on various contemporary issues and literature. Mirza Ghalib's works were often mentioned by him.
Nida Fazli is a poet of various moods and to him the creative sentiment and inner urge are the sources of poetry. He thinks that the feeling of a poet is similar to an artist: like a painter or a musician. In contrast he found lyric writing a mechanical job as he had to fulfil the demands of the script and the director. Later he accepted the practical necessity of money which comes from lyric writing and helps one to ponder on creative work.
He published his first collection of Urdu poetry in 1969. Childhood imagery persistently reflects in his poetry as elements of nostalgia. Primary themes which run through his poetry are contradictions in life, the search for purpose, nuances of human relationships, differences between practice and preaching, and the groping for that which is lost.
Nida Fazli disagreed with the partition of India and has spoken out against the communal riots, politicians and fundamentalism. During the riots of December 1992 he had to take shelter in his friend's house due to security concerns.
He was honoured with the National Harmony Award for writing on communal harmony. He wrote 24 books in Urdu, Hindi and Gujarati — some of which are assigned as school textbooks in Maharashtra. He received the Mir Taqi Mir award for his autobiographical novel Deewaron Ke Bich from the Government of Madhya Pradesh.
Fazli died of a heart attack on 8 February 2016.Ab kahan dusron ke dukh me dukhi hone vale
Lafzon ke phool
Aankh aur Khwab ke Darmiyaan
Safar mein dhoop to hogi
khoya hua sa kuch
Duniya ek khilona hai
1998 Sahitya Akademi Award in Urdu for Khoya Hua Sa Kuchh (Poetry collection)
2003 Star Screen Award for Best Lyricist for Sur
2003 Bollywood Movie Award - Best Lyricist for Aa Bhi Ja from Sur
2013 Padma Shri; the Government of India.
Aap To Aise Na The (1980)
Anokha Bandhan (1982)
Razia Sultan (1983)
Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin (1996)
Tamanna (1997) - Ghar se masjid hai
Sarfarosh (1999) - "Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya"
Sur – The Melody of Life (2002) - (Aa bhee jaa, ai subha aa bhee jaa)'
Dev (2004) (co-writer)