A Man of Many Fas­ci­nat­ing Facets

Slogan - - Cover Story - By Asif Noorani

Ifirst met An­war Maq­sood way back in 1961 when I had en­rolled my­self as a stu­dent of BA (Hon­ours) with English Lit­er­a­ture as my main sub­ject. He was one year my se­nior, but when I did my Masters four years later, he was one year my ju­nior. He didn’t take ex­ams be­cause he feared that the ex­am­in­ers may by mis­take see him through. Even­tu­ally, he set­tled for a plain BA. 7HAT DEPART­MENT WAS HE IN ) STILL DON T know. But what I re­mem­ber very clearly is that he used to col­lect stu­dents in any empty class­room and make them laugh. Once, while com­men­tat­ing on Pak­istani crick­eters’ bat­ting de­ba­cle, in a Test match, in the style of Al­lama Rasheed Turabi’s ma­jlis, he an­noyed an Ira­nian stu­dent so much that he got up from his seat to beat up An­war. I was one of the few who in­ter­vened. ) RE­MEM­BER BE­ING STRUCK BY A BLOW 7HO was re­spon­si­ble for that I don’t know?

But there was an­other side of An­war, which I came to know at about the same time – his com­mand over Urdu po­etry. He could re­cite a cou­plet at the drop of a hat and his se­lec­tion was ad­mirable (it still is). From clas­si­cal po­ets to con­tem­po­rary bards, he could quote them with ease.

Yet an­other facet to An­war’s per­son­al­ity has been his flair for paint­ing. He does oil and/ or acrylic on canvas. He started with water colours. He doesn’t hold exhibitions these days very of­ten. There are some ad­mir­ers with deep pock­ets who walk away with his paint­ings. He re­cently claimed that it was his pur­suit of art that kept the kitchen fire burn­ing. ) TOOK THAT WITH A PINCH OF SALT 7HEN ) ASKED Immo (Im­rana Maq­sood), in some ways his much bet­ter half, re­cently to con­firm her hus­band’s claim she just smiled eva­sively.

Like his late younger sis­ter Zubaida Tariq, a well-known chef who did TV pro­grammes, An­war en­joys cook­ing. Immo says her hubby likes to en­ter­tain peo­ple with his culi­nary skills but he leaves the kitchen be­hind in a bad shape as noth­ing is placed back in its right place. An­war de­nies the charge ve­he­mently. “Don’t be­lieve her. That’s just her pro­pa­ganda,” he said when I went to see him. h7HY DO YOU WANT TO IN­TER­VIEW ME 9OU don’t need to. You have known me quite well for years,” he says, but agreed to squeeze me into his tight sched­ule for he was to leave for Bangkok with Immo, their two chil­dren and six grand­chil­dren two days later. The el­dest is Mikail, who has in­her­ited his grand­fa­ther’s artis­tic genes and whose paint­ings punc­tu­ate the walls of his grand­par­ents’ house.

As we climb the stairs lead­ing to An­war’s study, he shows me his grand­son’s works of art proudly. An­war’s square-shaped room is lined with pho­to­graphs and paint­ings, not to speak of the packed to ca­pac­ity glass door with book shelves. You can hardly see the wall (that is true for his en­tire house). A large ta­ble (not a desk, mind you) oc­cu­pies the cen­tre of the room. An­war is watch­ing the TV as he is keen to know the pun­ish­ment that is to be awarded to Nawaz Sharif and his daugh­ter. Sick of politi­cians as I am, I con­cen­trate on his beau­ti­fully done por­trait by Shahid Ras­sam. The colours are sub­dued and the face highly re­al­is­tic.

Much to my re­lief, the an­nounce­ment has been post­poned by two hours. The id­iot box is switched off. I ask him about his cor­rect year of birth. Google men­tions 1932 which is wide off the mark. “I was born in Hy­der­abad Dec­can on 7th Septem­ber 1940,” he says in one breath.

His ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther, an Urdu poet of merit, was from Ba­dayun in UP, who had set­tled in Hy­der­abad, while his pa­ter­nal grand­fa­ther who held the high-rank­ing post of Awwal Taluq­dar be­longed to Hy­der­abad state. He was men­tored in Urdu po­etry by no less a per­son than Dagh Dehlvi. An­war’s fam­ily mi­grated to Pak­istan in 1948, af­ter the army ac­tion in Hy­der­abad.

I came to know An­war all the more, when he joined the multi­na­tional EMI, which was headed by the late Man­soor Bokhari, the son of Pa­tras Bokhari and a dis­tin­guished per­son him­self. He gave An­war a free hand and the lat­ter com­piled quite a few long play records. As piracy caused a dent in the sales of discs and au­dio cas­settes, An­war made an exit.

He joined Hur­riyet, the sec­ond most pop­u­lar Urdu news­pa­per which had been taken over by the Dawn group as the ed­i­tor of the

week­end mag­a­zine. Shama Zaidi did all the leg work, An­war wrote a widely read col­umn. His was a hu­mor­ous and satir­i­cal col­umn while the late Nas­rul­lah Khan penned a se­ri­ous col­umn. The news­pa­per didn’t do too well and An­war once again jumped over­board be­fore the ship sank.

An­war’s two-sided per­son­al­ity was am­ply

re­flected in his writ­ings for TV. If he wrote such se­ri­ous long plays as Daur-e-Junoon and Naeem Ahmed ba­nam Saleem Ahmed and se­ri­als like Si­tara aur Mehrun­nisa, he wrote An­gan Terha and a num­ber of shows such

as FiftyFifty, Shosha, Stu­dio Dhai and Stu­dio

Paune Teen, which were all hits. He told me that ear­lier this year he was in­vited by lovers of Urdu in Syd­ney to stage a one-man show. “There were as many as 800-plus peo­ple in the au­di­ence. Even Gulzar sahib’s and Javed Akhtar’s shows did not have such a large au­di­ence. In my show there were peo­ple from Bris­bane and even Perth,” he ex­ults. “See­ing is be­liev­ing,” I feel like telling him. But sure enough, the or­gan­is­ers could not af­ford to pay for a wit­ness.

An­war says he spends at least an hour read­ing lit­er­a­ture and an­other hour lis­ten­ing to clas­si­cal mu­sic. I see his au­dio CDs and cas­settes neatly stacked. So, the man who is ac­cused of leav­ing his kitchen in a sham­bles is much more or­gan­ised about his mu­sic col­lec­tion. I shall see to it that my wife doesn’t get to see his mu­sic li­brary oth­er­wise she will nag me. I have a fairly large col­lec­tion too but not enough time to ar­range them sys­tem­at­i­cally. Maybe An­war can help me.

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