LAHORE: Acclaimed writer and director Atul Tiwari spoke about poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s emotional and literary attachments to Lucknow at Faiz Ghar on Monday.
Tiwari read out his research paper, Faiz aur Lucknow, listing friends of his in the city and showing pictures of their houses he used to stay at. He said the poet was extremely close to Sajjad Zaheer, Dr Rasheed Jahan and Comrade Naeem Khan. He would visit the latter in his house in a narrow alley to enjoy his wife’s cooking.
The session started late as Indian actor Shabana Azmi and poet/writer Javed Akhtar were stuck in traffic. Meanwhile, the other guests from India compared the Faiz Ghar experience with literary meetings in India.
Dr Alok Vajpai, a consultant psychiatrist who hosts a television show called ‘An hour with Mahatama’, suggested that the Faiz Ghar exhibit be taken to cities all over the subcontinent to promote the poet’s progressive views.
He said Faiz and Gandhi were similar in that they sought to erase the differences between people and bring them together. He said Faiz had secretly attended Gandhi’s funeral.
Actor Rajendra Gupta spoke of his disappointment that the Pak Tea House, a famous gathering place for poets and intellectuals in Lahore, had closed.
Pakistani artist Shahnawaz Zaidi said several literary forums had formed in Lahore after Pak Tea House closed.
Javed Akhtar told The Express Tribune that he had first read Faiz’s poetry at age 10. “By the time I was 15 I knew Dast-e-Saba, Naqsh-e-Firyadi and Zindaan Nama,” he said. “I believe Faiz’s work is of universal importance.”
He added that he had met Faiz at a gathering of Indian film and literary figures in May 1978.
Artist and teacher Salima Hashmi, who’s also Faiz’s daughter, said Faiz was also a journalist and he had set an ethical standard far above the norm in Pakistan today. She recalled a story about Faiz where the then editor of The Pakistan Times was talking to a reporter over the telephone. The editor warned the writer not to refer to a man accused of rape as a rapist, as the courts had yet to declare him guilty.
“Now all I see in papers is judgmental expressions. It is important for journalists to understand the sensitivity and responsibility of their work.
They should not be judgmental,” Hashmi said.
Dr Arifa Sayeda, Nazish Ataullah, Muneeza Hashmi, Zakia Sarwar, Mira Hashmi, Sheereen Pasha, Asghar Wajahat, Obaid Siddiqui, Priya Sarukkai-Chabria, Vennelaketi Ramadevi, Saleem Arif, Shama Zaidi, Seema Sathyu, Dr Anjali Tiwari, Dr Alok Vajpai, Lubna Saleem and Ila Arun also attended the event.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2011.
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