Stories about poet

Raja Changez Sultan: the sage artist behind the canvas

When I sat down with Raja Changez Sultan to talk about his journey as an artist and a poet, I was already in awe of him. I had been following his work, both poetry and painting, for many years. Seven years of my life were spent sitting under a beautiful large azure green and vivid blue canvas from his Himalayan Odyssey series. The beautiful canvas that hung on the wall of the international donor agency where I worked at that time was a welcome relief in that drab, grey, reticent building. “It has been wonderful for me. You live ...

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Remembering Ibne Insha: The man who wanted ordinary people to bring a revolution

The great poet, humourist and travel-writer Ibne Insha passed into literary immortality 41 years ago. While writing in this space on the occasion of his 90th birthday, I had noted that he was not only a literary craftsman who had imbibed the art of creating natural, effortless humour out of the ordinary, but that his travelling had also exposed him to the Cold War machinations of the newly departed colonial powers, especially in the Middle East. Even before Insha was struck by the disastrous Arab defeat to Israel in 1967, he travelled the Middle East. Whatever tragedy he saw unfolding ...

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Remembering Qalandar Momand: 3 short poems for the colossus of Pashto poetry

Qalandar Momand (1930-2003), whose 88th birthday fell yesterday, is regarded as an epoch-making and trend-setting personality in Pashto literature, journalism and politics in the 20th century. The most gifted of a generation that also includes contemporaries like Ajmal Khattak and Khatir Ghaznavi, Momand made his mark as an enlightened scholar, progressive writer, political thinker, social thinker, scientist, researcher and historian. It was thus rather unfortunate that Google chose to commemorate the late Urdu playwright Fatima Surayya Bajia – also born on September 1st  88 years ago –  with a Google Doodle, and not Momand; though the latter’s diverse contributions far outstrip the former, ...

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Does the “Urdu problem” lie with Mah-e-Mir or us?

This Mother’s Day I took my mother out on a date to watch Pakistani cinema’s latest flick Mah-e-Mir. Luckily, it has not been banned as yet. I am not a movie buff per say, but I do end up going to the cinema every other week to take a break from reality. So, I hardly ever read movie reviews before watching movies. I like to watch a movie with a blank mind, having nothing to compare it with and judge it based on the entertainment value. I went in judging from the title that Mah-e-Mir would probably be based on the ...

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The Muse: Mah-e-Mir

Mah-e-Mir, a film directed by Anjum Shehzad and produced by Syed Noor in collaboration with Momina Duraid was released on May 6, 2017. I believe it has outdone all other Lollywood films in terms of language and cinematography. The star studded cast includes Fahad Mustafa (Jamil), Sanam Saeed (Naina) Iman Ali (Mehtab Begum), Manzar Sehbai (Dr Kaleem) and Alyy Khan (Nawab Sahab). Sanam SaeedPhoto: Facebook Alyy Khan.Photo: Twitter The thematic concern of the film is to decipher between feeling and mood, voice and gesture, imagination and reality. The opening scene and dialogue are truly mesmerising. “I sat in solitude, but then ...

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Majaz Lakhnawi to the labourers: ‘The day we rebel, Judgement Day will compel’

The Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has announced that a first-ever labour policy for the province would be announced today, on the occasion of International Labour Day. This is welcome news from the incumbent chief minister, known to publicly recite from the popular poets and bard of the Pakistani working class, Habib Jalib in his more distracted moments. While the national government has yet to announce a more conciliatory policy for the hardworking workers of the country, the chief minister might also be interested in another progressive intervention on behalf of the workers from our not-too-distant past, the ...

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The story of my life as a Poetic Scribe

“Hassan would travel the world on foot. By day he would brew tea – maybe Cairo, maybe Morocco. He would find different ways to sustain his travels as he always only moved from city to city by foot, guided by the moonlight. The day was to work he claimed, and the night to travel. Soon after this wandering artist crossed the Wagah Border, he met the love of his life. And anchored his heart in Lahore. Please can you put all these details in your poem”, said Shama. I blinked at this stunning woman telling me a very personal love story of her dearest ...

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Iqbal’s relevance as explained by Saadat Hasan Manto

I first came to translating Saadat Hasan Manto about two years ago, 2012 being celebrated as the birth centenary year of this literary lion. Partly intrigued by the Kashmiri roots I share with him, and partly disgusted by the neat pigeonholing done by literary critics, Manto could apparently only either be a realist of sex or partition. I sought to bring the joy of his satirical and prescient nonfictional pieces about postcolonial Pakistan to an audience – not necessarily a younger one – that had been brought up on the comfortable fiction that Manto was not a political animal with a far-reaching ...

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What would Iqbal think?

On the southern bank of the River Neckar in Heidelberg, Germany, is the Iqbal-Ufer. This street, running parallel to the river, was named in honour of Allama Iqbal, the poet-philosopher from India. It was here that the poet was granted his PhD in philosophy. As I glance at the images of this breathtaking city, I can understand Iqbal’s appreciation for beauty. What amazes me, however, is the depth his poetry plunges into when describing the despairing state of Muslims in India. An eye that is accustomed to beauty, a voice that thrills with eloquence, would shun despair and disillusionment. Yet these ...

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Pakistan, the illusions of a glorious past and kafan chor

Times don’t really change much over the centuries. Or so I felt after reading one of the aphorisms or ‘hikayaat’ of one of the medieval times poet and thinker, Sheikh Saadi. It goes like this… Once upon a time, there used to be an evil, wretched man in a small town, who used to steal ‘kafan’ (white cloth used as a shroud to wrap the dead bodies) right after burial from the local graveyard. His means of income, therefore, involved opening up fresh graves, desecrating the dead for a meagre amount of money that he would get by selling the white cloth in the ...

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