The Power of Satire
Satire is a variety of humour which highlights a social evil or a problem by humorously revealing its flaws or drawbacks. But then it’s the most difficult form of humour and requires very special treatment and careful handling. Erma Louise Bombeck, an American humourist known as the mother of all humourists, rightly says, “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humour and hurt.” And if even an experienced writer knowingly or unknowingly oversteps the line, he may hurt the audience. The recent incident is an Anwar Maqsood’s skit which compelled the veteran writer to apologize for his satire. ‘Anwarnama’ on social media drew heavy criticism for his characterisation of the Sindhi people. The video also received a backlash on social media from many, including notable Sindhi entertainers such as Ali Gul Pir and Mooroo.
However, despite this painful skit, Anwar Maqsood is definitely a competent and outstanding scriptwriter, host, satirist, humorist and infrequent actor. He is indeed a multitalented person with a bagful of masterpieces like ‘Fifty Fifty’, ‘Loose Talk’ and a host of others. In fact it runs in the family. He also has two film scripts to his credit. The first film was, ‘Deewanay Teray Pyar Ke’, in which Jia Ali did a leading role. The second film he wrote was for Shehzad Roy. His critically acclaimed stage plays include Pawnay 14 August, Sawa 14 August, Half Plate, Angan Terha and the very recent Anwar Maqsood ka Dharna. All these ran to packed houses in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
Anwar’s masterstroke as a playwright for the stage is undoubtedly the stage play Siachen. He disclosed in an interview that HE WAS CALLED TO THE '(1 IN )SLAMABAD to seek permission from Lt. General Asim Bajwa (then head of ISPR) to write a script on the life of Pakistani soldiers in Siachen. Lt. General Bajwa gave him the permission but told him to wait for General Raheel Sharif’s confirmation. Anwar Maqsood said when he met General Raheel Sharif, he encouraged him to write the script.
The play “Siachen” turned out to be a hit not only in Islamabad but also in Karachi, Lahore and other cities. The play was loved by the army officers who especially came to watch the first show. They appreciated it so much that they now wanted Anwar Maqsood to make a film based on the play.
Siachen was performed at the theatre four times in one day, but after the last show concluded and the cast was about to leave the theatre, another 500 people were found waiting for the play to be staged again.
7HEN THEY WERE TOLD THAT THIS WAS IMPOSsible because all the actors were very tired, they insisted so much that another show was staged for them and it ended at 3.00 am in the morning.
A connoisseur of music, Anwar owns a library containing classical songs of the great performers of India and Pakistan. The collection also includes the Beatles, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and many more. According to him, big names in music like Fareeda Khanum, Iqbal Bano and Ghulam Fareed Sabri, used to come to his house for recordings. He has also penned a number of lyrics for his son’s band The Strings. His elder sister Zuhra Nigha is a famous poet while his late sister Fatima Suraiya, popularly known as Bajiya, was a well-known writer of TV plays while another of his sisters, the late Zubaida Apa was known for her culinary skills.
Anwar Maqsood is also very passionate about painting. His first painting exhibition was held in 1958 and in half an hour all the paintings were sold out. In a recent interview he said, “The person who bought my paintings was Jamsheed Marker, an ambassador of Pakistan and a very well-educated person. He was the only one in Pakistan who also owned a Picasso. I was awarded by the government of Pakistan for my paintings.”
In Anwar Maqsood’s masterpiece Siachen, the actors were university students and he personally took more than 900 auditions to select only 18. All of them played their roles brilliantly. After selection, the first thing he did was to send them to Siachen for 12 days, so that they could understand the hardships of a soldier deployed in Siachin. After coming back, all the actors were told to stay alone in a house without any digital technology to understand what loneliness really felt like.
The best aspect of Anwar Maqsood’s personality is the way he uses satire. For him, it is a weapon of the powerless against the powerful.