‘Aisa kuch kar ke chalo yaan ke bahut yaad raho.’

Slogan - - Cover Story - By Shaha Tariq

Art, po­etry, sto­ries, mu­sic, nine sib­lings, many plants and two ma­tri­archs – this was the oys­ter for An­war’s grow­ing un­der­stand­ing and per­spec­tive on life to come. Ache bhai, his fa­ther passed away much too soon leav­ing him and his fam­ily in ac­tual dol­drums. Their ship could have very well stayed put had it not been for the ex­tra­or­di­nary women that this house was blessed with.

An­war saw Su­rayya walk­ing into PTV, Sara rul­ing the air­waves at Ra­dio Pak­istan, Zehra win­ning over mushairas and Sughra lost in the wo­ven in­tri­ca­cies of bri­dal trousseaus, while he dab­bled and ex­per­i­mented with the fi­nan­cial world and even­tu­ally, for its brighter fu­ture, left it. To this day his banker friends count that as a bless­ing.

Many jour­nal­is­tic hic­cups, a few achieve­ments and a dar­ing ‘I can do this’ at­ti­tude saw him at the thresh­old of where Su­raya (Ba­jia) was al­ready mak­ing a mark (Pak­istan Tele­vi­sion) and he be­came a part of the golden clas­sic Zia Mohiuddin Show. A mem­ber of the back­stage team, con­tribut­ing to script­ing, he tasted his first flavour of com­ment­ing on cur­rent af­fairs with a pep and an opin­ion.

A long play Mehman (PTV’s first long play) gave him his first win­dow into act­ing along with writ­ing – act­ing be­ing some­thing that is clos­est to his heart, his first love and he still en­joys cameos as and when pos­si­ble though he is not ter­ri­bly good at it. He will refuse to ac­cept it and I will prob­a­bly not get the paint­ing that he promised me but, nev­er­the­less, if there is one thing that AM is not ex­cel­lent at it is act­ing. There! Paint­ing gone.

The next few years brought him into the mag­i­cal realm of mu­sic – EMI. His home was rich in cul­ture and talk. Ev­ery­one read, worked and ar­gued. Pashi, his mother, knew Hafiz by heart and quoted Per­sian clas­sic po­etry most fre­quently, giv­ing you a strange look if you failed to emote the ec­stasy of un­der­stand­ing the finest of ped­a­gog­i­cal lilts or twists. She played the har­mo­nium and dis­cussed ra­gas along with her home­spun recipes of khichri and chut­ney and en­sured that ev­ery­one was bet­ter learned and fed si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

His ca­reer in mu­sic fit­ted right into this melo­di­ous en­vi­ron­ment. He searched and plugged new ta­lent. He made playlists for cas­settes and long play records, met and be­came a life­long friend with the one and only Ar­shad Mah­mud and dis­cov­ered em­i­nent leg­ends like Nus­rat Fateh Ali among many oth­ers. His Sil­ver Ju­bilee later, fur­ther con­sol­i­dated this work by bring­ing it on na­tional tele­vi­sion. Present day stal­warts like Humera Channa, Ben­jamin Sisiters, etc have much to thank that show and An­war for. He prob­a­bly has the best col­lec­tion of mu­sic from spools to iPods to­day and if you are blessed enough and you get to hear it with him, then he will nar­rate the his­tory and back­ground of each lyri­cal mas­ter­piece like a fairy tale, and, within an hour, you will have a close kin­ship with Hemant Ku­mar, sing Asha by heart and pick on R D Bur­man when­ever he steals a note from his fa­ther. You will also hear Elvis and Bea­tles and Leonard Co­hen and lots of in­dige­nous African and Mex­i­can mu­sic. How­ever, do re­mem­ber that you can­not crit­i­cize Madam Noor Je­han and Asha Ji at any cost. 7HETHER MU­SIC OR JOUR­NAL­ISM THE IN­TEL­LECT was home­grown and plenty (this fam­ily could lend some and then some more) and his own fam­ily was his best critic. Loose com­ment or shal­low rea­son­ing had no ac­cep­tance and with shin­ing stars like Ahmed (Maq­sood Hamidi) as the older brother, he knew bet­ter than ar­gu­ing over Shikwa or Jawab-e-Shikwa so he, in­stead, wrote his own shikwa.

His shikwa (com­plaint from the world) Fifty Fifty – sketches and skits as com­ments and satire, be­came an in­stant hit. The po­lit­i­cal and so­cial twist found in this nar­ra­tive made icons out of its lead per­form­ers. Names like Ja­hangir, Is­mail Tara, Zeba Shah­naz, Bushra An­sari and Moin Akhtar reached the top tier in terms of cred­i­bil­ity and fame. Bushra and Moin would con­tinue with An­war for a se­ries of suc­cess­ful shows, one af­ter the other and the gap left by sach gup got filled in re­mark­ably. He fol­lowed it up with many long plays and se­ri­als, in­clud­ing his mas­ter­piece An­gan Tehra, Si­tara aur Mehrunisa, etc. Loose Talk be­came a long, con­tin­u­ing com­ment on so­cial and po­lit­i­cal con­flicts of Pak­istani so­ci­ety.

An­war of­ten re­mem­bers the days from his mother’s kitchen and en­sures the lit­tle tweaks of Pashi in his culi­nary cre­ations. Flambé and style fol­low him in the kitchen too and you see him do­ing all the dough flips and cut­let mesh that he cre­atively comes up with. Immo gen­er­ally locks her­self in her room to main­tain her san­ity and the stu­dios are look­ing for com­pre­hen­sive IN­SURANCE TO GO AHEAD WITH @7HEN !NWAR Cooks’ be­cause the food is to die for af­ter all.

A not so hid­den facet of his multi-di­men­sional in­tel­li­gence and per­son­al­ity is his flair for and col­lec­tion of art. The cre­ativ­ity is just not sated with writ­ing, speak­ing, cook­ing – it needs one more out­let and, lo and be­hold, came the canvas and the colours.

His paint­ings have a vi­brancy and live­li­ness that sur­prises you. They come out and en­gage you. The eyes are huge, the noses re­gal and the mouth set. The necks long and ar­ro­gant, the birds plump and gor­geous and the moon burn­ing. He uses the most amaz­ing and aes­thet­i­cally put to­gether shades of blues and ochre and emer­ald and vanilla – the pal­ette is exquisite to say the least and hardly ever re­peated. Each work is dif­fer­ently wired and yet un­de­ni­ably An­war. He dab­bled with theatre too and Paune

Chauda Au­gust started the love af­fair with twists to the free­dom his­tory to ex­plain the present. His Si­achin, how­ever, had the

au­di­ence teary-eyed and heart­bro­ken. But this is what he does – he does a Dau­reJunoon for ev­ery Mirza and Sons. His mirth for each of his woes. His hu­mour for his bro­ken heart.

An­war would nar­rate this story slightly dif­fer­ently. His nar­ra­tion would re­quire you to con­trol laugh­ter and smirks and en­sure that you do not have tea/juice drib­bling out of the sides of your mouth. It is im­pos­si­ble for him not to laugh at him­self or pro­vide you the op­por­tu­nity to do so. There is a strange sat­is­fac­tion that he seeks by mak­ing peo­ple laugh.

It puz­zles me at times but then he pulls a smart one and we laugh.

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