A book of unique calligraphy

Ms Sajida Zaidi

LANGUAGE is not only a medium of communication but also reflects the culture, tradition, history, social norms and even emotions of the people who speak it. Even though different countries have their own national or official language, yet spoken language crosses all political boundaries. It breaks through artificial barriers of geography, race and religion. So is the case of Urdu-Hindi which is the common language, spoken in vast areas of the Sub-Continent. Its geopolitical divide does not come in the way of its Lingua Franca, in this case, Urdu-Hindi, which is affectionately called Apni Boli or our own Language by Dr Syed Mohammad Anwer in his book of unique Calligraphy Samrup Rachna sub titled Apni Boli. Unique because his calligraphy is in two scripts-a feat which has not been tried by any known artist before him.
It is because of this common medium of expression or Apni Boli, spoken so merrily and fluently throughout Pakistan and India that movies, television programmes, mushairas, social events and people to people contact are enjoyed and celebrated equally by people on both sides of the border. The cementing factor of this camaraderie is the communication of the people in the same language that is Urdu-Hindi. Apni Boli or Our Own Language is perhaps the only language that is written in two different scripts – Urdu in Nastaliq and Hindi in Devanagri. This means each side loses access to half of the literary treasures of the other side.
In his book Dr Anwer has tried to bridge this divide by skilfully blending the two scripts to form the same words. Not only that, but the word intertwines to bring its picture to the fore. Udru and Hindi scripts are artfully fused in such a fashion that they form an image of the word they symbolize. For instance surahi is written so as to form an ewer (surahi), the word joota is written in the two scripts to look like a shoe. Same is the treatment of the words chhatri (umbrella), orhdna, (dupatta) murti (statue) and many others. There are words of religious connotations like Allah, Rehman, Budha , Devi , Holi, and social practices like Zaat, Paat It is an interesting journey going through the book and getting a glimpse of culture, history, tradition, social practices and religion of the people who speak ApniBoli.
The title of the book is borrowed from Sanskrit which means a creating similarity of design. With his ingenious designs he creates a new form of art and merges two different scripts into one single entity. It is his calligraphic expression of the language spoken so widely across the sub-continental expanse. Anwer says that Apni Boli is the only language that is written in two different scripts.
This beautifully produced coffee table book has over 60 pictures of Anwer’s original framed paintings. The size of each one is given at the bottom of the page. An exhibition of these paintings has already been held in Islamabad and Lahore. Anwer is now planning to have one in Karachi as well. His only concern is which ones to select since all of them will take up too much space. In the meantime his book was launched at the Mother Languages Literature Festival at Lok Virsa, Islamabad on February 20, 2016.

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