Sunday, July 22, 2007
Pushto drama seems to be on decline because of lack of observation and artificial presentation
By Sher Alam Shinwari
Dr. Mohammad Azam AzamSoft-spoken Prof Dr Mohammad Azam Azam, the author of no less than 11 books, is a man with an unassuming personality. He has been rendering meritorious services to Pushto language and literature for the last 45 years. Dr Azam is a distinguished writer known for his individual and unique style, and for having introduced and contributed to modern literary trends both in substance and style in Pushto prose as well as poetry. He enjoys mass popularity and unprecedented fame among common folk, literary and cultural circles for his landmark achievements. Radio Pakistan Peshawar and PTV’s Peshawar Centre have aired more than 500 songs and ghazals by Dr Azam that have gained tremendous popularity due to their lucidity and mass appeal. He is also considered to be a trend setter in Pushto drama, on both radio and television.
In several of his memorable plays Dr Azam has portrayed a true picture of Pakhtoon culture and society. “Unless a playwright delves deep into the people’s problems, s/he fails to depict the real picture of society. To me a writer and poet is the spirit of the age s/he lives in. Pushto drama seems to be on decline because of lack of observation and artificial presentation”. At the inception of PTV’s Peshawar Centre in 1974, he wrote the first ever Pushto TV serial ‘Rukey laarey’ (The lost paths) which provided a firm foundation for PTV drama in the Frontier. His most popular play ‘Namoos’ — in both its Pushto and Urdu versions — won accolades for PTV. According to a prominent poet, researcher, linguist, critic and fiction writer Qalandar Momand, Dr Azam is at the top list of modern Pushto poets and playwrights.
As for his poetry, Dr Azam claims to be inspired by the progressive writer’s movement. “I am impressed by Ajmal Khattak’s poems and by the ghazals of Amir Hamza Khan Shinwari because both of them are voices of masses, one delineates the social life of Pakhtoons while the other appeals to their spiritual and national identity. I had started composing poetry during my school days. At Islamia College Peshawar, I was on the editorial board of the literary journal Khyber.
“I have a penchant for music and can play the sitar therefore there is a musical quality in my poetry, but I stress on its social and thematic aspect. The poet should always say something new and touching. Digesting the same old stuff robs one’s art of its originality. I did not publish my poetry in book form because I thought there is an intense need for prose but now I am planning to bring it out under the Rungoonah on the request of my fans. Young Pakhtoon poets have introduced new subjects and there is still need for more experiment. Poetry is a vehicle available to be exploited for people’s welfare. It is both a means of instruction and a delight. Pushto poetry has an immense future”, Dr Azam concludes hopefully.
Along with his creative literary pursuits Dr Azam has also presented invaluable services in the field of research. He has published numerous treatises, research articles and critical essays. Among all of his research works, his celebrated investigative prose work Pakhto Afsana: Tahqeeq Auo Tanqeed is the first ever book on the subject. The book has been included in the MA course for Pushto literature. His PhD thesis titled The art of characterisation in Pushto literature is considered to be of high literary worth.
“Some Afghan scholars affiliated with Pakhto Tolana in Kabul did valuable research on Pushto language and literature before the Russian invasion but nowadays research on scientific lines in Afghanistan is a farfetched notion. Also, writers there have become divided into various ‘groups’ which I believe is a bad omen for promoting healthy literary trends. Ulasi Adabi Jirga is a popular literary organisation founded by Hamza Baba, Dost Mohammad Khan Kamil, Qalandar Momand and other poets, writers and researchers in the early half of the 20th century. They helped to introduce new literary trends in Pushto literature. Men of letters like Haji Sanobar Hussain Kakajee, Fazal Mahmood Makhfe, Abdul Akbar Khan Akbar, Ghani Khan, Ashraf Maftoon, Master Abdul Karim Mazloom and Mir Mehdi Shah Bacha, under the influence of Bacha Khan’s Khudai Khidmatgaar Tehrik, gave a social awareness and political consciousness to the masses through their inspiring writings”.
Birth: December 21, 1940
Place of birth: District Charsadda, village Rajar, NWFP
Education: PhD in Pushto literature
Career: Appointed as lecturer of Pushto at Islamia College, Peshawar in 1963 and also served as chairman Pushto Department University of Peshawar and Dean of Faculty of Oriental Languages. He retired on December 20, 2000 and took charge of the Academy of Letters Pakistan, Islamabad, as regional director Peshawar chapter in August, 2006
Important Books: Pakhto Afsana: Tahqeeq Auo Tanqeed, Pakhto Adab Ke Kerdarnigaaree, Lashey, Rahman Baba Da Ulas Shair, Pukhtanee Romanoonah, Da Aqidat Guloona, Andazoonah
Adamjee Award (1963)
Pakistan Writer’s Guild (1965)
Pakistan Writer’s Guild (1978)
PTV gold medal for drama (1989)
Tamgha-e- Imtiaz (1990)