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December 5, 2016

Urdu conference closes with reminiscences about the departed


December 5, 2016

Speakers wish for more enthusiasm to promote literary and cultural activities

Yaad-e-Raftagaan, the post-noon session reminiscing about contemporaries on the final day of the 9th International Urdu Conference on Sunday, left the audience in tears and smiles, evoking memories of distinguished individuals, including noted writers, who have passed away recently.

Teary-eyed, writer Asif Farrukhi shared memories of his father, noted author Aslam Farrukhi. Recalling an intriguing conversation between his father and poet Ahmad Faraz, he said the former had asked the latter to cut back on liquor. Faraz retorted that the older Farrukhi should cut down on his prayers if he wished him to stop drinking.

When Aslam Farrukhi left the room, Faraz told the younger Farrukhi that he wouldn’t cut down on liquor on his father’s advice, adding on a lighter note: “Maybe your father will cut down on his prayers after my assurance.”

Aslam Farrukhi later told his son: “I’m not going to cut down on my prayers. I just agreed to the deal so he’d cut back on his drinking.” After a pause, he added: “Neither is he going to change his habits nor I. But I always pray for him after praying.” The conversation was captivatingly narrated, receiving applause several times.

At the end of the session, Ahmed Shah of the Arts Council told the audience: “I have just received a call from [former Sindh governor] Ishrat-ul-Ebad. He is watching the programme online. He wants to talk to the panellists.”

Shah was immediately interrupted by diverse author Anwar Maqsood: “Maybe he wants to talk about Altaf Hussain,” adding after a pause, “Hali.” At this a storm of applause and cheers erupted in the hall.

Earlier in the session, Maqsood’s reminiscences about his sister Fatima Surayya Bajia – the famous novelist and playwright who passed away this February – also drew a lot of appreciation.

The session on recollections about noted intellectuals – including Jameeluddin Aali, Azhar Abbas Hashmi, Aslam Azhar and Agha Saleem – ended on a high note.


Too many cooks

The next session – Film, Television, Theatre and the Modern Age – could have done without some speakers. Classical dancer Sheema Kirmani said TV drama was never recognised as an art form. The debate was stretched too far by actor Talat Hussain – from explaining TV drama as an art form to initiating a debate over the history of art, culture and religion.

Moderator Iqbal Latif made several desperate attempts to bring the debate back to the topic, but he himself ended up participating in the debate over religious teachings about visual mediums. The programme was further drawn out when the audience interrupted the panellists with their questions.

Playwrights Haseena Moin and Noor-ul-Huda, however, managed to talk about commercialising deteriorating drama. TV producer Akhtar Waqas Azeem made the most important point that great writers like Amjad Islam Amjad and Asghar Nadeem Syed should resume writing dramas to rescue it from people with capitalist and commercialised approaches.

The audience observed that only one medium – film, TV or theatre – should have been discussed so the panellists could have found it easier to stay on topic.


Khuda Hafiz

Following a session on eminent novelist and writer Intizar Husain, Maqsood formally concluded the conference in his distinctive style during the Khuda Hafiz session.

Arts Council Secretary Dr Huma Mir, a leading figure in the media industry, moderated the last session that reviewed the literary and cultural progress of the council since the first International Urdu Conference.

The speakers hoped that the council’s administration would continue organising the conference with more enthusiasm to promote literary and cultural activities across the country.

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