Down the memory lane

Muhammad Zahid Rifat

Some years back, at the start of the new century, a unique artwork done with glass pieces by well-known artist Masood Kohari was held at Ustad Allah Bakhsh Gallery of the Alhamra Arts Centre. Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) the then Director General Naeem Tahir had come all the way from Islamabad to inaugurate the solo paintings exhibition of friend Masood Kohari who did not believe in exhibiting his art work quite frequently.
The PNCA Director General cut the ribbon to mark inauguration of the art show, and start round to see the paintings displayed on the ground floor as well as the first floor. A young female TV reporter with the mike was following Masood Kohari and Naeem Tahir throughout the round. At the end of the round, she approached chief guest Naeem Tahir and asked for his comments about the art work of Masood Kohari which he hadsee during the round. Naeem Tahir took the mike in his hand and said few nice words about Masood Kohari and his artwork on display. Just when he had finished and was about to hand mike back to the tv reporter, something very strange and unexpected held.
The young tv female reporter asked Naeem Tahir ‘Sir, who are you ?’. On hearing this, Naeem Tahir with mike still in his hand put up his hand as if he is going to hit her. I was stand nearby and just managed to get the mike out of his hand and cooled him. The question she had asked at the end of the talk was uncalled for. She should have found the details beforehand, introduced him and then started talking. All tv reporters when rushing out of their offices on some assignment should better get all relevant information, do bit of spadework before hand and then get down to the work. This will save them from the embarrassment, which the young tv female reporter had to face at Masood Kohari’s exhibition at Alhamra Art Centre.
All that glitters is not gold is a generally used, understood and applied proverb. As a Master in Journalism student at the Journalism Department in the Punjab University in early 1960s, when Mr Marghoub Siddiqui was the Head of the Department and Dr Abdus Salam Khurshid was the Senior Faculty Member, I along with classmates Hammad Hassan and Ashiq Ali Farrukh had gone to the Evernew Studios on Multan Road. I do not remember exactly whether it was an assignment or we had gone there on our own for fun sake.
We had entered the Evernew Studios, one of the oldest film studios along with Shahnoor Studios of Syed Shaukat Hussain Rizvi, quite easily as there were no security problems of any kind during those good old days. Our agenda was to meet some artists and if got a opportunity to go around the studio and also watch shooting of some under-production Urdu or Punjabi film.
We sat on the stairs of the fountain in between the main gate and the office of owner-producer Agha GA Gul waiting for some film personality to pass that way. We did meet some and here is our brief encounters with them. We saw Sudhir (Shah Zaman) coming from our left side and stood up to greet him and talk to him. As he came closer, we said greetings to him. To out great surprise and shock, he neither responded to our greetings nor stopped to ask as to why were there.
We went back to the fountain stairs and again sat there. It was around afternoon and we waited for someone else to come our way. After sometime, we say comedian Lehri coming. We again stood up and approached him. But he did not stop and crossing up went away. We were quite disappointed and just when we were about to leave, we saw Santosh Kumar (Syed Musi Raza) coming. He was a popular hero of those days.
To our pleasant surprise, he stopped, exchanged greetings with us and asked the purpose of our being there. On being told about that, he very politely asked us to wait as he was going to meet Agha Sahib on some business and when he returns we well sit and talk. We were very much impressed with his nice talking and sat back on the stairs waiting for his coming out. It took Santosh Kumar rather long or perhaps it had slipped out of his mind that some young students were waiting for him outside Agha Sahib’s office. However, he came out from Agha Sahib’s office after sometime. On seeing up still sitting there, he walked towards us, apologized for the delay and took us to his office, which was first on the left of the main gate.
In the office, he introduced his younger brother and director S Suleman, offered cup of ea and we chatted for some time and them left thanking Santosh Kumar and S Suleman for their hospitality. All of them namely Sudhir, who was also called Lala Sudhir, Lehri and Santosh Kumar have since expired over the years one after the other playing their long innings and leaving their mark in varying margin on the film industry which has all along been crying for due patronage by the government and demanding industry status.
—The writer is Lahore-based Freelance Journalist, Columnist and retired Deputy Controller News, Radio Pakistan Islamabad and can be reached at zahidriffat@gmail.com

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