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Meet the REBEL-ROUSER

He is a man used to speaking his mind, mincing no words. And all the consequent backlash has failed to dim his spirit. Hailed as the architect of modern Urdu fiction, Enver Sajjad, also a doctor, performing artiste and painter, shares his musings with RANA SIDDIQUI.


A WRITER, poet, doctor, dancer, choreographer, painter, media baron and a rebel politician, Pakistan's most famous man in terms of pen and most infamous as a rebel leader, who earned many enemies in the political fraternity, from General Zia-ul-Haq to corporate houses in the country, Enver Sajjad triggers instant awe once he starts speaking in his husky and commanding voice. His English looks, modest demeanour, acquaintance with almost every subject on earth and an immense energy level at age 69, leaves one marvelling, especially when one gets to know the hardships he has been through all his professional and personal life.

"But that's what make me write," he hides his pain under animated laughter. This author of 18 publications was in New Delhi during the recent SAARC Writers Conference-XI. He is considered the pioneer of the modern short story, daastan, in Pakistan. "Illiterate people don't read newspapers or Faiz Ahmad Faiz. When I started writing - his first writing was a romantic novel called `Rangrazon' at 18 - stories, poems and literary writings were not meant for the masses. I used to hate that oppressive regime kyunki log anpadh zaroor the, par jaahil nahin the. So, I wanted to initiate a dialogue with them," says the author whose struggle began right from this decision to indulge the masses in creative thinking during the dictatorship of General Zia. He also earned ill reputation among writers for his "works being light in substance".

Affinity with India

"India too was going through similar feelings then. It was 1960s. Writers like me were in a boiling pot. We had energy, optimism and calibre. Since I was not pathologically rooted to my past, my plays were a good satire on contemporary socio-economic, political situations. It brought Zulfikar Ali Bhutto at loggerheads with me," recalls the writer. He wrote a play called "Eik Thi Malika", a farce on General Zia's regime, which talks about a king's adversaries in his own court. "Its end was too dangerous. I used metaphorically abusive language with symbolic blood and gore expressing failure of love and power, for which I was produced before the General," he recalls. But his failure in establishing amicable relations with spouse and children who live separately from him is a pain that he hides with a dignified smile.

Sajjad is one audacious soul. He declares Ashoka, Aurangzeb and the British rulers as the "base of the loose social fabric of the sub-continent". He learnt Kathak when he could not find an accomplished dancer for his play "Waajid Ali Shah". He hails Jamini Roy and Ramachandran as the "greatest painters," and minces no words when he says, "We ape Indian channels," even if his statement affects his position as current CEO of Geo T.V network in Pakistan.

We don't mind anyway!

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