Panipat becomes ground for humour at Adab Festival

February 04, 2020

The city of Panipat in India’s Haryana state — notorious for being the battleground for several fights, including those that changed the course of history in South Asia — became...

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The city of Panipat in India’s Haryana state — notorious for being the battleground for several fights, including those that changed the course of history in South Asia — became the central point of a humorous discourse on the last day of the Adab Festival 2020 at the Arts Council on Sunday.

The session was stand-up comedy, but the term does not do justice to it because of the rampant substandard humour one finds in such routines these days, to enjoy which people need no intellect or knowledge whatsoever but only compromised aesthetic values.

The presenter was Peerzada Salman, an author and journalist famed for his reporting on arts and architecture. And the theme of his hilarious talk was Panipat, to which he would eventually return every few minutes after comically touching on various subjects that his free talk would lead him to.

He started the session with reciting some verses that reminded one of a ghazal by Ghalib, as they shared the same metre and rhyming scheme, with Ghalib’s ghazal having the verse: “Aaye hai bekasi-e-ishq pe rona Ghalib / Kis ke ghar jaaye ga toofan-e-bala mere baad”.

“Gham ki khaa jayegi duniya mein ghata mere baad / Aur barsain ge bohat teer-e-bala mere baad” was the opening couplet of the ghazal recited by Salman.

He said the poetry was by a relatively unknown poet, Lala Anoop Chand Aftab Panipati, who hailed from Panipat, and the presenter’s own ancestors also lived in the same city, due to which he could also be called Peerzada Salman Panipati.

After describing the location of Panipat in current India, Salman quipped that if anyone did not know about it, there was nothing to be ashamed of, as we belonged to a country whose prime minister had bordered Germany with Japan — not once but twice.

In such a scenario there is no need to read geography, and one should better read — if they want to read something at all — Facebook posts, prize bond numbers or warnings on the walls that forbid people from responding to the call of nature under their shadow.

From there he touched upon the Indian film ‘Panipat’ and took a jibe at Arjun Kapoor for his worst acting in it, claiming that for all the moods his face had only one expression: the expression of someone who desperately wanted to go to the toilet and found it locked from the inside.

Deriving humour from the three battles of Panipat, he said that in the first battle Zaheeruddin Babar defeated Ibrahim Lodhi, and since then the Bharatiya Janata Party and Lodhi’s relatives remember Babar in such words that cannot be used without the permission of the film censor board.

He made a funny use of the Urdu phrase “Na in ki dosti achhi aur na dushmani” (Neither is their friendship good nor their enmity) by saying that Ahmed Shah Abdali, who fought the third battle of Panipat against Marathas, was an Afghan whose enmity was not good.

Bringing Arts Council Karachi President Ahmed Shah into the talk because of the similarity of his name with Abdali, Salman said that as Afghan’s enmity was not good, so was Shah’s friendship.

The presenter then referred to three famous personalities of Panipat: Sufi saint Bu Ali Shah Qalandar, Urdu poet Altaf Hussain Haali and film-maker Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, who has the credit of introducing none other than Amitabh Bachchan to the cinema.

Salman said Haali was the first major literary critic of Urdu who made many controversial statements in his book, such as those in which he disparaged the importance of metre in Urdu poetry.

He quipped that the Indian film lyricists of nowadays are actually followers of the great Haali, writing songs such as “Paan mein pudina dekha, naak ka nagina dekha, chikni chameli dekhi, chikna kamina dekha”.

Through Abbas, the conversation then turned to Amitabh, whose mother Teji Bachchan was born in Lyallpur (now Faisalabad). The audience laughed when he said we Pakistanis changed the name of Lyallpur to Faisalabad in the honour of actor Faisal Qureshi.

He said Teji was a friend of Indira Gandhi, and when Amitabh expressed his desire to act in films, his mother asked Indira to use her influence to get her son a chance in films.

Salman quipped that since the “sifarish” was by such a major political personality, he continued to get chances, despite the failure of all of his initial films, until he succeeded.

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