Tuesday March 28, 2023

An evening for Zia Mohyeddin and Amjad Islam Amjad

February 19, 2023

The Arts Council of Pakistan might not have chosen the best day for holding a condolence reference for Zia Mohyeddin and Amjad Islam Amjad as the event was held when the annual Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) was also happening not so far away. However, the timing also seemed perfect as it ensured the presence of many prominent literary personalities from outside Karachi such as Kishwar Naheed, Asghar Nadeem Syed and Ashfaq Hussain at the event.

Again holding a joint event for the two luminaries, who recently passed away, had both pros and cons. On the one hand, it facilitated the presence of many senior literary personalities, but on the other hand, the focus of the event kept oscillating and some speakers who could say a lot about both of them had to cut short their remarks due to time constraints.

ACP President Ahmed Shah said the passing of Mohyeddin and Amjad was an irreparable loss for the council. He said the ACP had for the first time organised a literature festival in Lahore and Mohyeddin had a dedicated session scheduled there but his health deteriorated and he could not go to Lahore.

Recalling the grand personality of Mohyeddin, Shah said the legendary thespian and voice artist called him to apologise for not being able to fulfil his commitment due to his health.

Playwright Anwar Maqsood said he had an association of 55 years with Mohyeddin. In his typical humorous style, he said how he would like to irritate Mohyeddin by mentioning ‘Mujrim Kaun’, a Pakistani film that Zia had starred in but later regretted to be a part of it.

Maqsood also recalled the cultured personality of Mohyeddin who would never address anyone with ‘Tum’ but only used ‘Aap’.

Iftikhar Arif said he came to meet and know Mohyeddin when he worked for the national television in 1970s when Zia Mohyeddin Show was being telecast.

He called the late orator and theatre practitioner a difficult person who was very reserved and did not allow people to mingle with him. He also mentioned author Daud Rahbar, Mohyeddin’s cousin who had a deep influence on him.

Arif said he had seen few perfectionists in the showbiz industry as Mohyeddin. Commenting on the style of literary readings by the late artiste, the speaker said Mohyeddin invented a new style of reading literary pieces with a soft tone that was in contrast with the style of famous voice artistes like Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari. Mohyeddin had a deep understanding of classical texts and he also thoroughly knew classical dance and music, he added.

About Amjad, Arif said he was his peer and among those who gained immense popularity as a poet in the decade of 1970s. He explained that before writing his most famous play ‘Waris’, Amjad had written his first play ‘Sonay Ki Chirya’ for the PTV Karachi Centre that was produced by Kanwar Aftab Ahmed.

He specifically mentioned a poem ‘Self-Made Aadmi Ka Almia’ penned by Amjad. Commenting on how Amjad passed away just a few days after he had returned from Umrah, Arif said it seemed that Amjad had gone to the holy places for securing a clean-chit.

Poet Anwar Shaoor said it was a common thing to say after someone’s death that the vacuum created by his demise would not be filled, but for Mohyeddin such words were not just a formal utterance. Calling his style of reading precise (Napa Tula), Shaoor said that many might try to copy Mohyeddin’s style but they would not come even close to him because of lack of educational and cultural background.

Regarding Amjad, Shaoor said the late poet and playwright was unique in respect that he wrote in many genres of literature and maintained a standard in whatever he wrote. He lauded Amjad for not taking any break in his literary career and continued producing something or the other.

Zehra Nigah, one of the most respected literary personalities in the country, said she did not know Amjad very well and would often meet him in Mushairahs.

She, however, added that whenever Amjad would meet her, she felt satisfaction (Tamaniyat).

Regarding Mohyeddin, she said the way he recited Urdu poetry written in free verse would unveil meanings that she, otherwise, would not have grasped. She said she understood poems of Noom Meem Rashid after listening to Mohyeddin reciting them.

She also praised Mohyeddin for his services for promoting arts in the country, be it through the National Academy of Performing Arts or the PIA cultural academy in 1970s.

Responding to those who had criticised Mohyeddin for his film career, she said film was not the forte of the late artiste. She explained that it was voice artistry and theatre where Mohyeddin shone.

Ambreen Haseeb Amber, Akbar Islam, Junaid Zuberi and many others also spoke at the event.