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The life and times of Anwar Maqsood

Penned by Imrana Maqsood, Uljhay Suljhay Anwar discloses the lesser known side of the accomplished writer

The life and times of Anwar Maqsood

Writing a book can be a difficult task, especially when the book in question is a biography of a famous husband, penned by a famous wife. And yet, Imrana Maqsood manages to do justice with her biography of noted playwright, satirist and world-renowned host Anwar Maqsood, her husband of 47 years and counting. In her book Uljhay Suljhay Anwar, she not only pays tribute to the hard-working writer but also unveils another side of him, one that loves to stay at home, wreak havoc in the kitchen and play pranks.

What is Uljhay Suljhay Anwar about? In this book, Imrana Maqsood discusses her husband in casual tones, which is something new for readers. Thankfully, she begins chronologically and tells the reader that it was Anwar who was pushing for marriage – a fact she realized when he told her not to inform her elders that he gave her a lift from university. She also tells interested people why Anwar Maqsood chose to limit Aangan Terha to just 13 episodes, what were the reasons behind his exit from Fifty Fifty and who was the one person who understood each and every line he wrote.

When asked, Imrana Maqsood casually says that the book has been penned with several aims. Chief among them was the aim to disclose the interesting and lesser known side of Maqsood. “My publisher asked me to write a book on Anwar because in her opinion (to which I agreed), there was no book with his name on it, in the market. Through Uljhay Suljhay Anwar, we not only managed to make people know about the TV personality they watch every now and then but also get some of his work published in a book form.”

Fair enough but now those who want to emulate Anwar Maqsood will start creating problems at their workplace because according to this book, that’s what Anwar sahab was fond of doing. He once called his boss (who was also a relative) and told him in his superior’s voice that their meeting has been postponed. If that doesn’t shock you, how about issuing a transfer letter on behalf of the head office on the branch’s letterhead? The book is full of such incidents that have actually happened in real life and are not fictitious.

What the book doesn’t disclose is what Maqsood’s life was like before marriage.

Anwar“That’s something for Anwar to write, not me,” says the author as she explains that she didn’t know him that well back then. “I will ask him to pen something about his pre-marital life so that the readers can know how he was when young.” For the young however, Anwar Maqsood is a legend who writes for theatre and this book will make them realize that most of the work adapted for theatre has already become famous through TV, many moons ago.

Anwar Maqsood and his family have been an integral part of the TV industry since the introduction of TV in 1964. This book tells the readers about his brothers, sisters and many of his famous relatives whom the reader might not have known were related to the playwright. Then there are interesting chapters about Anwar’s first home, his job as editor of a leading newspaper, his inability to use smart phones, etc. Though not much is written about his TV projects such as Fifty Fifty, Sho Sha, Show Time, etc. that made him popular along with his usual collaborator Moin Akhtar. Immo Jee (as the writer is commonly known as to her friends, rightly points out that had she written more about Anwar’s professional life readers might not have found it interesting. She does write about the late comedian, whom she knew very well as he and Anwar Maqsood spent a lot of time together at their home.

Did you know that Anwar Maqsood believes that his wife resembles Virginia Woolf and that he likes to shop at Zainab Market. Well he can do anything, since he is Dabangg ka Sallu, as his wife aptly puts. Anyone who knows the work of Anwar Maqsood might even complete the book in a day because it is so relatable.

One also hopes that the next edition will feature more works of Anwar Maqsood. This edition had his scattered columns in one place, the screenplay of Daur-e-Junoon as well as his (make belief) interviews with renowned poets Mirza Ghalib, Mir, Iqbal and a few others.

“We plan to expand the book in its third edition as the first one is sold out and the second one is on sale,” Imrana Maqsood confirms as we conclude the discussion. “When I asked Anwar to read the transcript of the book, he went through a few pages and handed me the pages back and that was his way of giving me a go ahead. He trusts my writing and what else can one ask for!”


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