Cover Story

Slogan - - Contents - By Javed Jab­bar

• Notes for a Play named 'An­war Maqs­cod' • A Man of Many Fas­ci­nat­ing Facet: • An­war Maq­sood - My Friend • The Re­nais­sance Man • If Only An­war Bhai Knew • 'Aisa kuch kar ke chalo yaan ke bahut yaad raho.' • The Power of Satire • 'An­war Bhai ... is a Masseur.' • Hu­marav AM

These are draft notes for a 3-Act play about a char­ac­ter un­like any other one has ever met. Ev­ery hu­man be­ing is unique. A few are more so than most. An­war Maq­sood is in that hand­ful. Act One: Au­gust 1963. Day-time. Scene: Fac­ulty of Arts, Univer­sity of Karachi.

Dozens of stu­dents walk on the open, roofed walk-ways, and through cor­ri­dors, in and out of classes, or lounge on steps, or on the grass. This writer is one of them, part of the first-ever first-year B.A Hon­ours group in In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions com­pris­ing only 5 stu­dents. One was an at­trac­tive French girl named Jacqueline, an­other a Mus­lim youth from Mau­ri­tius named Adam Karim­bo­cus, the other two fel­low Pak­ista­nis, a charm­ing Umra Nur Mo­ham­mad and an ever-smil­ing Is­mat Parekh. Each of us is get­ting our bear­ings, ad­just­ing to the in­tim­i­dat­ing new set­ting of a univer­sity cam­pus spread over sev­eral acres peo­pled by sev­eral thou­sands.

There sud­denly ap­pears a slim, some­what se­nior-look­ing stu­dent with a cou­ple of books tucked un­der an arm, a quizzi­cal, be­mused ex­pres­sion that causes us anx­i­ety. But with ice-break­ing in­tro­duc­tions over, we dis­cover that An­war Maq­sood is 2 years se­nior, and in the Eco­nom­ics Depart­ment. Over the next few weeks a bond is formed.

At least four el­e­ments bring us to­gether. A shared, un­spo­ken ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the en­gag­ing com­pany of girl stu­dents. The In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and the English Depart­ment clearly had the most in­tel­li­gent, ar­tic­u­late and lovely-look­ing young women on site. Drawn to­gether by chem­istry, girls and boys were held to­gether by in­no­cent plea­sures of com­pany: soon la­belled as “The Coca-Cola group” whose ter­ri­to­rial claims cov­ered the ce­mented steps and the green lawns. In time, and in the fu­ture, this group’s mem­bers, and oth­ers on its fringes, proved to be ex­cep­tion­ally no­table in re­spec­tive tal­ents and achieve­ments, so promi­nently rep­re­sented by An­war. Sec­ond: an in­stant aware­ness of An­war’s wit

and hu­mour, their spon­tane­ity prov­ing their orig­i­nal­ity. The anti-the­sis of the dry­ness with which the sub­ject of Eco­nom­ics is as­so­ci­ated.Third: post-cam­pus hours, the al­ways hos­pitable house­hold of An­war’s re­mark­able fam­ily, headed by his warm, gra­cious mother, over­see­ing his gifted sib­lings, each of them a gem. Fourth: a par­tially com­mon an­ces­tral link­age with Hy­der­abad Dec­can, of An­war’s and of this writer’s.

The Stu­dents’ Theatre Guild, formed by end-1963 on a col­lec­tive ini­tia­tive led by *AVED !LI +HAN 1ASIM )SHAQUE AND OTH­ERS in­clud­ing this writer, re­quested An­war to be the de facto set-cum-pro­duc­tion de­signer. He did not take a speak­ing role in any of the three plays pro­duced be­tween 1964 and 1966. Shake­speare’s Julius Caesar (which, by its stag­ing oc­ca­sion­ally, be­came a com­edy rather than re­main its orig­i­nal tragedy),Moss Hart’s and Ge­orge Kauf­man’s ac­tual comE­DIES 9OU #AN T 4AKE )T 7ITH 9OU AND 4HE -AN 7HO #AME 4O $IN­NER "UT HE WORKED en­thu­si­as­ti­cally with Ali Khan, the Di­rec­tor of all three plays.

An­war be­came the soul of fun be­hindTHE SCENES 7HETHER MIS­CHIE­VOUSLY TY­ING up our Ro­man to­gas or spot­ting slip-ups by ac­tors or crew, he had us in such splits it was some­times dif­fi­cult to keep a straight face on stage and de­liver one’s lines --- while also re­mem­ber­ing the puns and pins that An­war was find­ing off-stage.

Our peren­ni­ally hard-up group yearned to see the newly-re­leased film “Lawrence of Ara­bia” at Bam­bino Cin­ema where the huge 70mm cam­era im­ages were be­ing screened for the first time -- at in­creased ticket rates. 7HICH WE DIS­COV­ERED AT THE CIN­EMA WERE beyond what our pock­ets had. An­war said: “Don’t worry”. He ap­proached a beg­gar seated on the pave­ment, whis­pered a promise to him -- and presto, bor­rowed the re­quired amount. (It was re-paid, with in­ter­est, later).

Thanks to An­war, we thoroughly en­joyed the film; and felt a spe­cial pride in view­ing our very own Pak­istani star Zia Mo­hyed­din in the film’s dra­matic first seg­ment.

An­war filled those three univer­sity years with sev­eral such episodes of im­mense hi­lar­ity. Act One con­cludes to the mag­i­cal waltz of “The Blue Danube”, the theme mu­sic for all the Guild’s plays.

Act Two. Scene One. 1966-1969. Mul­ti­ple back­drops, com­menc­ing with the Kharadar branch of United Bank Ltd. where An­war finds his first job, Ra­dio Pak­istan, Karachi and Karachi Tele­vi­sion Cen­tre. 7HILE !NWAR BE­GINS TO EX­PLORE THE lELDS of fi­nance and bank­ing in 1966 --- in­clud­ing us­ing his valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence of ex­tract­ing hard cash from the least likely sources --- this writer ex­plores the field of ad­ver­tis­ing and trav­els away to Lon­don for the sec­ond half of 1967, thus miss­ing out on reg­u­lar con­tact for sev­eral months. But in­ter­ac­tion soon re­sumes.

As a free-lance con­trib­u­tor to ra­dio plays and pro­grammes, as a writer and as an on­screen per­son for the un­known yet quickly de­vel­op­ing black-and-white TV medium, An­war’s writ­ten and spo­ken words quickly be­come rec­og­niz­able --- for their un­con­ven­tion­al­ity, their fresh­ness, their sheer fun­ni­ness.

He is also drawing, sketch­ing and paint­ing. Even in si­lence, his per­sona ex­presses it­self dis­tinctly, of­ten quite dif­fer­ently and un­ex­pect­edly soberly from his grow­ing rep­u­ta­tion for en­ter­tain­ment. One meets him at art galleries, in the com­pany of el­ders like Sad­e­quain and Ali Imam, and con­tem­po­raries like Shahid Sa­j­jad and Bashir Mirza.

Then comes the turn­ing point, the cli­max of Scene One. 20th De­cem­ber 1969. He weds the el­e­gant Im­rana who brings a whole new di­men­sion to his life, an el­e­ment of sup­port and sta­bil­ity vi­tally needed for an artiste strug­gling to es­cape the strait­jacket of Eco­nom­ics and Bank­ing. This writer de­cides to of­fer a hum­ble gift to the cou­ple in the form of a Su­per 8 mm film, record­ing glimpses of the mar­riage cer­e­mony. Beau­ti­ful bride and hand­some bride­groom were cap­tured in flick­er­ing, colour­ful im­ages --- alas now pre­served only on a VHS tape. But which, when­ever viewed, recre­ates frag­ments of the evening when the two of them tied the abid­ing knot of a life-time.

Scene Two. 1970-1983. Mul­ti­ple back­drops change over 13 tu­mul­tuous years.

As a new Pak­istan emerges from the tragedy and tears of 1971, An­war has al­ready moved from UBL to the state-owned In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion of Pak­istan (ICP), ini­tially led by the al­ways im­mac­u­lately-dressed Shakir­ul­lah Dur­rani (fa­ther of the soon-to-be-fa­mous au­thor Tehmina Dur­rani). He works as Head of Shares but his heart shares lit­tle in­ter­est with his mind -- which is of­ten else­where. 7HEN : ! "HUTTO BE­COMES 0RESIDENT AND CMLA on 20th De­cem­ber 1971 --- An­war’s sec­ond wed­ding an­niver­sary --- ZAB at­tempts to hu­mil­i­ate Dur­rani to set­tle some scores.

Af­ter ICP, Dur­rani had gone on to head the State Bank and PIA. He was sum­mar­ily sent off to jail and the scene was shown on stateRUN 046 7HILE STILL AT STATE OWNED )#0 !NWAR dares to visit S. Dur­rani to ex­press re­spect

and sol­i­dar­ity --- and is able to avoid be­ing pe­nal­ized for this au­dac­ity.

A few years later in 1977, An­war makes the first of two clean breaks. He locks up the door to the fi­nan­cial field and throws away the key. Man­soor Bokhari in­vites him to join EMI to en­able him to fuse to­gether his mind and his heart in the world of mu­sic. Plung­ing into work with a zest be­lied by his laid-back man­ner, An­war pro­duces the first-ever cas­sette tape of ren­der­ings by the great Nus­rat Fateh Ali Khan which goes on to be­come a best­seller, fol­lowed by work with sev­eral other stel­lar names, in­clud­ing Nur Ja­han. Along the way, An­war helps Munni Begum to de­velop her mu­si­cal per­sona, in­clud­ing suit­able garb.

Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, he sus­tains reg­u­lar out­put in writ­ing a range of ma­te­rial for TV and ra­dio, in­clud­ing straight com­edy as well as oblique so­bri­ety. He ap­pears as the host of stage pro­grammes or­ga­nized as tick­eted or in­vi­teesonly events as also live and recorded shows FOR 046 7RITING AND AD LIB­BING DUR­ING THE ob­scu­ran­tist rule of Gen­eral Zi­aul Haq, An­war be­gins to for­mu­late and sharpen a pen­e­trat­ing, mirth-in­duc­ing style which says as much on the lines as be­tween the lines. The hugely pop­u­lar “Fifty-Fifty” “PTV epit­o­mizes his ex­clu­sive ap­proach.

In 1983, comes the sec­ond clean break. This time, the break is with be­ing em­ployed full time. An­war steps into the un­cer­tain yet full-of-pos­si­bil­i­ties arena of be­com­ing an in­de­pen­dent, self-em­ployed in­di­vid­ual able to pick and choose what­ever he wants to do with his time.

As the lights fade on Act Two, the sound of a Me­hdi Hasan song from the su­per hit Pak­istani film of 1983 ti­tled “Dehleez” wafts through the air waves: “Jee­wan pyar ka pyaasa hai… “

Act Three. 1983-2018-and on­wards. Back­drops and fore­ground ac­tion be­come a cav­al­cade of colour­ful scenes. Yet the main char­ac­ter re­mains vis­ually vir­tu­ally the same.

Ex­cept for fine white hair. And the sig­na­ture dead-pan ex­pres­sion.

This Act spans the long­est phase, is rel­a­tively short and has no end --- be­cause the script con­tin­ues to un­fold. These past 34 years are marked by a prodi­gious vol­ume and va­ri­ety of work for TV, ra­dio, theatre, print me­dia, live pro­grammes on stage, en­dorse­ment of ad­ver­tised brands and pro­jec­tion of pub­lic ser­vice mes­sages, as a free-lancer, and as a Di­rec­tor on the ARY Me­dia Group Board.

In 2007, this writer, as the writer-pro­ducer of the cin­ema film Ram­c­hand Pak­istani (di­rected by Mehreen Jab­bar) per­suades him to write mem­o­rable lyrics for four songs com­posed by In­dian mu­sic di­rec­tor Deyab­joti Mishra and An­war pro­vides emo­tive power and heart-warm­ing words for lilt­ing melodies.

Un­in­hib­ited by au­thor­ity and pre­tence, us­ing quick, caus­tic jabs to de­flate pom­pos­ity, ir­rev­er­ent and ir­re­press­ible, mix­ing some­times awk­ward thrusts with fre­quently smooth pas­sages, An­war de­fines a sig­na­ture style -in­stantly wel­comed with smiles or laughs, be it swift one-lin­ers or 3-Act dra­mas. From one fam­ily’s tra­vails in Aan­gan Tehra to a whole na­tion’s tor­ment in Pauney Chow­dah Au­gust --- An­war deftly tra­verses di­verse ter­rains with sin­gu­lar hu­mour.

Aptly rec­og­nized by the state and so­ci­ety, he re­ceives an ar­ray of awards com­pris­ing the (ILAL I )MTIAZ 0RIDE OF 0ERFORMANCE 1UAID i-Azam’s Gold Medal and umpteen oth­ers pre­sented by democrats like Be­nazir Bhutto as also dic­ta­tors like Zi­aul Haq.

That friend­ships formed, such as with some oth­ers and with this writer over 55 years ago, en­dure and grow ev­ery day in 2018 and tes­tify to An­war’s sin­cer­ity, char­ac­ter and con­sis­tency of val­ues. Even when meet­ing oc­ca­sion­ally in small stag groups, with­out the charm of the com­pany of girl stu­dents as in univer­sity days, his com­pany de­lights and ex­hil­a­rates.

His work is stim­u­lated by spouse Im­rana who, in her own right, is a cre­ative and gifted in­di­vid­ual. She helped bring two dear chil­dren into this world in the per­sons of Bi­lal, who soon be­came a mu­si­cal prodigy with his lead­er­ship of Strings, and Ar­ju­mand who mar­ried and took part of the fam­ily’s ta­lent to her mar­ried life in Saudi Ara­bia. Im­rana writes as many as 35 books for chil­dren, and sev­eral cook­ery and health tip books, be­sides a trib­ute to her hus­band. She vol­un­teers time for the SOS Chil­dren’s Vil­lage in Karachi.

As An­war’s pen and voice con­tinue to scrib­ble and speak, with a new stage play set to open in mid-Au­gust 2018, the cen­tral char­ac­ter jour­neys on. He searches for the past as much as for the fu­ture. Per­haps this quest is best re­flected in the lyrics of one of the songs he wrote for Ram­c­hand Pak­istani, splen­didly sung by Shafqat Amanat Ali and Shuhba Mud­gal: “Phir wohi raastey, phir wohi rahguzar, jaane ho ya na ho, mera ghar vo na­gar…”

Stay in your seats. Act Three rolls on.

Two An­war Maq­sood Plays

A scene from Si­achen

An­war Maq­sood and Noorul Huda Shah

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