Dramatist, Novelist Journalist Anisul Huq visits Canberra

by Priyo Australia | November 25, 2007 11:18 am

When many amongst us were longing for a qualitative change in our audio-visual entertainment arena almost clogged with low-quality, cheap & sex-themed plays & movies, Anisul Huq brought in a breather of fresh air through his captivating drama-serials the like of Akannobarti and Sixty-nine, each of which impacted with such spells that the watchers became immobile until viewing the last of the serial and even then, longing for the serial to continue with no finishing line! Never before in the history of our plays, the viewers found them so much in tune with the unfolding events, depicting as if, the could be stories of their own lives, immersing them completely in the day-to-day developments of the serials! Much before the emergence of Bangladesh as a sovereign nation, composers & playwrights from our part of the world had been able to compose, albeit under the threat of questionable patriotism, novels and plays with distinctive styles, creating a special place for them and the region, as the torch-bearers of a culture, non-existent in the other component wings, making our part a unique component of the erstwhile outfit so far as culture is concerned ( this had been frankly conveyed to me by my counterpart in the Islamabad Foreign Office as I had first met him as a Bangladesh Diplomat in 1984 stating that in the independence of Bangladesh, Pakistan had lost its culture ), nevertheless, Bangladesh, since its bloody emergence, had been experiencing almost an invasion of its distinctive culture through unbridled floodgate of sub-standard plays and movies, Western & Indian, undermining the proud heritage and cultural mooring of Bangladesh, which, in reality, re-generated, through creations like Akannoborti and the young singers in Close-up One & two. Thus, Anisul Huq’s visit to Sydney, Melbourne and lately to Canberra, when it was announced in the web-page of PriyoAustralia.com.au created a stir amongst the Bangladeshi-Australians as well the members of the Bangladeshi Community in general, due to the possibility of physical interaction with a man who successfully transformed the reality of our country’s entertainment arena!

When the news of his visit to Sydney in the web-page of PriyoAustralia.com.au first attracted my attention, no emotion flared up in me, as now a days, a good number of our distinguished singers, dancers, writers, journalists, intellectuals, politicians and members of the civil society from Bangladesh make trips to Australia from time to time and many of them never make it to Canberra, due perhaps, primarily to its location and secondly, to the not large-enough concentration of Bangladeshi population. Being the Capital and the seat of the Federal Government, important Government functionaries from Bangladesh invariably pay official visits to Canberra, offering in some cases, opportunities of community interaction with them from time to time. In the recent past, a local Bangadeshi-Australian Cultural Group ‘Spondon’ sponsored a talented Rabindra-Sangeet Singer Kaderi Kibria to Canberra offering a memorable music evening to music-thirsty members of the community. Thus, when Alice Nahar called me to inform about Anisul Huq’s visit to Canberra offering us an opportunity to meet him at the premises of the Bangladesh High Commission at 6 PM on Tuesday, 13 November, 2007 for exchange of views between him and members of our community, I was truly delighted to have an occasion to interact with him in person. Shahadat Hossain Manik, the Visionary & Producer of PriyoAustralia.com.au was the real sponsor of his Canberra visit with assistance and active co-operation from Alice Nahar & Morshed Haider Anjohn while his Australia visit was sponsored & organized by Bangla Academy, Australia under the dynamic & able stewardship of Anowar Akash. The courtesy venue at the High Commission was negotiated by Manik who also organized the seating arrangement, the microphones, tea/coffee as well as the snacks. Though it was a weekday, the Canberra Organizing Team succeeded in gathering a handsome number of participants, working males & females, from across most of the Canberra suburbs at such a short notice as the preceding evening. The Program of the afternoon was called to order by Anjohn, who also provided the audience with a brief resume about Anisul Huq, the BUET Engineer, who had been awarded a Talent Pool Scholarship after his 8th Class, who had stood third in his SSC Examination from the Rajshahi Board and 8th in his HSC Examination, also from the Rajshahi Board, after his birth in a thatched house of Nilphamari in greater Rangpur.

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Anisul Huq was requested to take his seat in front of the growing audience and to give his own introduction. A healthy young man in his thirties, when Anisul Huq occupied the only seat overseeing the audience and meant for him, he did not immediately give the impression of a veritable genius, as he started to unfold the story of his own life, that we all got once he was proceeding with his carefully balanced expose about the events leading to his writing career in preference to the generally privileged career of an Engineer in Bangladesh. Though he never bragged about it, Anisul Huq appeared to have been a meritorious student right from his childhood offering him the opportunity to take up studies in any faculty of his own or his family’s choice and I guess, it might have been his family’s choice to land him in the BUET for Engineering studies! As he proceeded with his BUET studies, apparently writing short stories or plays had more appeal to his inner-self than securing a first class in his final examination which anyone aspiring to build an Engineering career should be targeting for obvious reasons. Thus, according to Anisul Huq, he had resolved to eke out an unknown writing career for him in preference to a comfortable Engineering career and thus while his nearest competitor had secured a first class, went with scholarship to the US to pursue higher studies, succeeded, and even died meeting a tragic accident, he could not secure a first class in his final Engineering examination but successfully translated his dream of becoming a short story writer, a novelist and a playwright while pursuing a most unusual career for an Engineer, a career of journalism in several Bengali dailies leading to his current position in the daily Prothom Alo. Though, in deference to his mother’s wishes, he had to start his life with an Engineering job, he soon found a job in journalism, paying him handsome salary compared to his Engineering job which neither his mother nor his would-be-bride could be happy with. Thus he had to take the BCS Examination to find himself in a Railway job to establish his capability to become a first class government officer, offering the opportunity of earnings beyond the salary amount, in the eyes of his mother, as well as the standard qualification for a would-be bridegroom, expected by many families in Bangladesh, seeking their daughters’ hands in marriage. Having proved his intrinsic worth, both for his own family and the in-laws’ family, Anisul Huq switched back to his career of choice, journalism full-time and novelist and playwright, part-time. He had started with short stories, sat down to write a drama, urged by his wife, which he finished in one go of six hours, but despite promises by producers to screen the play in TV, needed a good amount of time before the play could be telecasted, for either an accident causing death t

o an important cast or simply for the casual approach of another producer. Ultimately, when finally his drama was televised, it was very well received by the audience throughout the length and breadth of Bangladesh, making him an instant celebrity. At this point of his writing career, he was urged by an Associate to write about some factual story of our war of liberation. As he started looking for a true story, he came to know about the surviving mother of freedom fighter Azad, who had been tortured to death along with legendary freedom fighter Rumi, son of Bangajanani Jahanara Imam, who had immortalized herself by maintaining a factual diary of her days of 1971 spent in Dhaka, later published as a book titled ‘Akattorer Dinguli’, who subsequently became the Chairperson of ‘ Akattorer Ghatok Dalal Nirmul Committee’ in testimony of her strong demand for trial of the Razakars in Bangladesh. The story of Azad, narrated in a nutshell, is that he had been born as the only son of a very rich man of the Eskaton area in Dhaka. When Azad had been a little child, Azad’s father had decided to marry for the second time, without any cogent reason other than deadly infatuation making him insane. Azad’s mother had pleaded with her husband to desist from such an irrational venture warning her husband of her decision to leave his house in the event of his going ahead with the plan. Having failed to stop her husband’s second marriage, she left his house with her little son and started living in a small hired accommodation, somewhere nearby and raised her son, with her sweat, toil & blood, during the next several years until Azad attained a Master’s Degree, when in 1971, on commencement of the war of liberation, Azad sought his mother’s permission to join his freedom fighter friend Rumi in the war to liberate the motherland from the oppressive occupation of the Pakistan Armed Forces. While on the job, Azad was apprehended and taken to the Ramna Police Station in Dhaka. The Pakistan Army approached Azad’s mother to inform her that if she would be able to persuade her son to offer deposition against his freedom fighter friends, he would be made a prosecution witness and would receive lenient treatment from the Occupation Forces. Thus Azad’s mother was allowed to see her son at the Ramna Police Station. While she strongly advised her son against betrayal, Azad, who was sleeping on the cement floor in custody, asked her to bring some rice for him the next day as he had not eaten any rice since his arrest. The mother cooked rice for Azad and went to Ramna Police Station the following day never to find her son again. Azad’s mother lived for fourteen years since then and could never take rice or sleep on a bed as they haunted her for the rest of her life. As her death approached, she requested for a placard stating ‘here lies freedom fighter Azad’s mother’ on her grave. She now lies buried at the Kafrul Graveyard in Dhaka which Anisul Huq personally visited to see the placard for himself and to pay his homage to an extra-ordinary mother and later narrated the true story in his novel ‘Ma’, which, I believe, touched the readers’ emotions tremendously, with similar stories galore in Bangladesh. ‘Ma’ has doubtlessly immortalized Anisul Huq.

A childhood and school friend nicknamed Happy spoke about the unassuming nature, versatility and brilliance of Anisul Huq. Anisul Huq answered a number of questions relating to his own plays, Bangla dramas in general and some current issues such as trial of war crimes by Razakars in Bangladesh as a journalist raised by participants such as Dalia Nilufar, Fahmida Ehsan, Ehsanullah, Anamul Bhuyia Mukul, Ahmed Imran, Alice Nahar, Kamrul Ahsan Khan & a few others from the audience. Special tributes were paid to him for his inimitable style of writing plays by Alice Nahar who also thanked the Sydney-based Bangla Academy to sponsor his visit to Australia making it possible for him to be in our midst in Canberra. On behalf of PriyoAustralia.com.au Shahadat Manik alluded to his extraordinary acumen as a playwright and thanked him profusely for making it to Canberra affording an opportunity to the local Bangladeshis to exchange feelings and views with him. Asked which city in Australia offered him the best audience for an intellectual and lively exchange of views, Anisul Huq had to concede that this was Canberra. The entire program was moderated & conducted by Murshed Haider Anjohn with his impeccable candor and the usual brilliance. The program might have left a lasting, nostalgic and indelible imprint on the participants who will cherish recurrence of such programs in the days ahead.

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