Pakistan Observer

Anwar Maqsood’s genius, Hamara Karachi and Russian reception

Karachi Diary

Salahuddin Haider

Saturday, April 14, 2012 - TIME now to take your mind away from the blood-stained Karachi streets to spend some happier moments with plays like Anwar Maqsood’s “paune 14 August”, the Hamara Karachi Festival ,organized under senator Nasreen Jalil’s patronage, and the Russian Consul General’s efforts to build relations with Pakistanis. These were all timely activities aimed at diverting attention, and providing some sigh of relief to people, worried and concerned for the safety and security of their lives and property. But let it also be stressed here that crime rate has been shooting up almost in the entire country. Karachi is no exception. In the Punjab, murders, burning of family members, and shooting of brides etc, are far more heinous in nature, than mere political, and criminal shoot-out of the Pakistani megapolis. Least said about Balochistan and the Khyberpukhtoonkhawa, the better it would be

Whatever has been happening in Karachi since the past couple of years, is being done under a plan to sabotage this city’s importance as the economic hub of the country, a city which was the centre of attraction for the world entrepreneurs, internationally renowned sportsmen , men of letters and those involved in intellectual pursuits. However, there are plenty of noble souls also who are constantly engaged in making people happy with their endeavours like dramas, poetry recitals, cultural activities, , and the likes. Anwar Maqsood’s humour, witt and satire are too well known to be recounted time and again. He is a super genius, a real asset to the country. His latest creation —a one-act play titled “Paune 14th August” may perhaps go down in history as the best ever satire in Indo-Pak literature. Classic would be too small a word for it.

It was genius at its best, a zenith never touched before by anyone to reflect on the maladies, afflicting our beloved country. Anwar’s scripts have always been famous for their wordage, carefully chosen phrases, but this time the writer poured out his soul into a play that created an euphoria, pulling an audience, from 10 years old to those, at the fag end of their existence . The craze was remarkable. Even the heavy price of ticket could not, for a day, dampen the rush at the gates. People yearning for a classy production, ignored the burden on their pockets to sit on floors, and on stairs between the aisles. This was a rare scene, and went on to prove how people in this city, had the hunger to look for creativity, and here it was a creativity of the highest order, unprecedented, and unseen before.

As a youngster I fondly remembered the stage play—“Mirza Ghalib Bandar Road Per”—It was an excellent satire, produced and directed by Khawaja Moeen. That play too was a masterpiece in literature, became an instant hit, but Anwar Maqsood touched an entirely new subject to provide food for thought to a nation, which indisputably seems worried and weary with the state of affairs in a country, where, while their elders, considerable number of them witness to the horror of partition, and still alive, are now totally disillusioned, and the younger generation disenchanted. Anwar’s portrayal of Allama Iqbal’s dreams, Maulana Shaukat Ali’s efforts for a new homeland for the muslims of the subcontinent, and the Quaid—e-Azam’s vision of what the new State ideally should be, but the subsequent events, which has now plunged Pakistan into an abyss of disappointment, despair and despondency , is bound to be remembered for a long, long time to come. His crisp sentences, and phrases on today’s Pakistan, and character selected to reflect on the current society, whether in ethnic, political, or the cultural mould, made the audience burst into laughter repeatedly, but bringing tears in their eyes simultaneously. The characters chosen to portray the Quaid, and Maulana Shaukat Ali, did their jobs well, but somehow the choice of the person playing Allama Iqbal, needed greater attention.

Minus that weak or gray area, the play has a done a yeomen service by reminding the people that their rulers neither had the vision, nor the character or sincerity to build Pakistan of Quaid’s, or Iqbal’s dreams. While everyone made a bigger mess than the other at the time of their being in authority, the end of the play revived hopes in younger generation, which Quaid-e-Azam happily passing on his legacy into a young, innocent boy, asking him to take care of the country he had struggled hard to found. Anwar Maqsood is already a legend in lifetime. The latest play hopefully would make him immortal.

On a lesser but courageous scale, Nasreen Jalil, has been trying ceaselessly for the past many years to restore Karachi’s image, and even if she has been partially successful, it is a great achievement. She has been having poetry recitals, open air theatres, dance ensemble from Thailand, singers performing at various places, children’s activities, as well as for elders, so on, and so forth. She needed to be lauded. At this age, Nasreen has been displaying tremendous energy and enthusiasm for the cause of her city and for Pakistan. Hamara Karachi, now a Foundation, has spread its wings to be” Hamara Karachi, Hamara Pakistan” to reflect on the cultural glory of the entire country, and of different ethnic and cultural bounties.

A series of Indo-Pak Mushaira was a great feature for the month of March in which top poets of the country, and four from India, Waseem Barelvi, Manzar Bhopali, Rahat Indori, and Iqbal Ash’ar, took part. Manzar was darling of the audience, everywhere he recited his “kalam”. The legendary Himayat Ali Shair was here from Canada(he has migrated from Pakistan to be with his children), and Iftikhar Arif from Islamabad were other prominent participants.

The Russian Consul General Andrey Demidov has been very active, having delightful programmes at the consulate from time to time. He had held an exhibition of Muslim heritage in Russia earlier also, which was immensely liked by those invited. This week, he showed a feature film to portray the Russian determination to fight for their independence in the 13th century. It refreshed memories of history for the hand to hand and street to street fight in Leningrad and Stalingrad in the second world war against Hitler. Among the guests were the Japanese Consul General Mr Sato, the German consul general Dr Klinner, and two American diplomats Charles Bowers, and Sharon Umber. Charles is fresh here in the consular section, but Sharon would probably be returning in August. There was the Vietnamese commercial counselor Nguyen Hong Tien, and director of the Goethe Institute Dr Manuel Negwer. The city bleeds, but those committed to peace and tranquility, remain engaged in countering the devils’ designs.

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