The Power of Satire

Slogan - - Cover Story - By K. A. Naqsh­bandi K. A. Naqsh­bandi is a free­lance jour­nal­ist with spe­cial in­ter­est in show­biz and me­dia.

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.

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