Punjabi novel since 1947

Pakistani Punjabi Novel Da Irtaqa by Dr. Nasreen Mukhtar; PP 496; Price Rs300 (hb); Publishers Pakistan Punjabi Fikri Saanjh, 15, 1st Floor, Khan Arcade, Mauj Darya Road, Lahore.
Some of the successful students of Ph.D are very fortunate that they not only get the degree of doctorate and its benefits, if any, they also get their research published and made public providing general readers and students an opportunity to go through their work.

Dr. Nasreen Mukhtar in that way is lucky that she got her thesis published. Perhaps it was her inner urge to get her work published and to dedicate it to her father, who is a friend of knowledge.

Khalid Humayun, a university teacher of Punjabi, was very critical about the low standard of the doctorate theses approved by the university and many of which were not published. Here one expects that Khalid would come forward and try his critical and research skill on this newly-produced book which has surveyed the 57 years of Punjabi novel mostly written by Punjabi activists more interested in the promotion of language and literature which even to-date is not allowed to enter in primary, elementary, secondary, Danish or other English-medium private schools.

The critical study of the Punjabi novel since 1947 has been divided into six chapters; first chapter deals with four novels published in 24 years from 1947 to 1970, second chapter includes the study of 15 novels produced from 1971 to 1980 and sixteen novels published from 1981 to 1990, third chapter is about 34 novels published from 1991 to 2003 and eight novels published from 2004 to 2007.

In the 6th chapter, the novels have been studied from thematic point of view. There is also a supplement which covers those novels transliterated from Gurmukhi script and novel translated into Punjabi from other languages. There are only 9 such novels translated from English and Urdu which include three from English translated by Afzal Ahsan Randhawa whose first novel was published in early sixties and referred to in the first chapter of the book under review. Prof Dilshad Kalanchvi did translation of old Urdu classical novels. The two publishers made excellent contribution to the promotion of this genre and they are Pakistan Punjabi Adabi Board and Idara-i-Punjabi Adb-o-Saqafat. Statistically, the total novels published during this period may look disappointing but when we compare the fact that only four novels in 24 years and 34 novels in 13 years, one hopes that in future this progress will be more encouraging.

Dr. Nasreen has divided the novels in many categories including politically associated narration in which she has placed writers Ahmad Saleem, Anwar Chaudhry, Ehsan Batalvi and Fakhar Zaman. One wonders where she places Husain Shahid and Farzand Ali who contributed three well-accomplished novels on modern times covering the period of three martial law dictators. Kala Chanan, a well-designed story of the time when virgin lands were brought under cultivation and the Punjab was politically asserting its place in the framework of Indian struggle for independence. After the war of 1857, the British had to face more violent struggle from the Punjabis who were conquered in 1846… much later than the provinces across Jamuna etc. On the other side, Punjab came very late under the British control but its manpower and economic conditions and liberal attitudes made it very important for the empire. The Punjabis were taken in armed forces after the soldiery from UP, Bihar, Madras etc conquered the Punjab and was reluctant to go in the western hilly tribal areas and they stood up against the British Raj in May 1857. Punjab had a trained army under Maharaja Ranjeet Singh’s western generals which filled in the gap left by the sepoys belonging to areas mentioned above. After the mutiny or War of Independence, Muslims of the north-west Punjab and the Frontier now Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa province were also taken in. Side by side, the civil structure was also provided the new blood from the Punjab which served the masters quite well. But in the forties the Punjab was in rebellious mood proof Azad Hind Fauj, and Naval uprising and before that Sikh uprisings, Jallianwala Bagh tragedy, Khilafat Movement etc.
It might be Congress or the Muslim League everybody believed that whosoever wins the support of the Punjab that would lead the game. The Congress passed its independence resolution on the bank of River Ravi and close to the Ravi, Muslim League passed its Pakistan Resolution and after seven years a new country emerged on the map of the world, but the feudal leadership laid the foundation of its destruction when it associated itself with the colonial economic system America and surrendered to the conservative and religious local political forces. Though Mir Tanha Yusufi and lately Nazeer Kahut have concentrated on the political Punjab, it needs more hands and thinking minds to study the society of the Punjab in the perspective of its very long history. Dr Nasreen has done a good job, one hopes that she can take better out of her students at the Lahore College for Women University where Sabiha Mansoor has taken over as vice-chancellor who has deep sympathies with Punjabis suffering from the linguistic inferiority complex.
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ABB WOH LAHORE KAHAN… an exhaustive interview with the living legend of Lahore (now 102 years old) F.E. Chaudhry by Muneer Ahmad Muneer; pp 212; Price Rs250 (hb); Publishers Mahnama Aatishfashan, 78 Sutlej Block, Allama Iqbal Town, Lahore.
This second edition of the book with some additions was published on 102nd birth anniversary of Mr. Chaudhry popularly known as Chacha Chaudhry who served The Pakistan Times as photographer till his retirement. Chacha Chaudhry still has great stock of photographs of the city of Lahore which has almost disappeared because of bizarre expansion. A photo added to the new edition is that of a bull cart on which the statue of Queen Victoria was loaded from outside Punjab Assembly and it was leading towards the Museum where it was deposited. Chacha Chaudhry’s camera never missed such scenes where history was caught in black and white. Aijaz Anwar, a well-known painter, has preserved the old Lahore in colour while Chaudhry has preserved it in photographs. Chaudhry and Aijaz’s father cartoonist Anwar Ali were colleagues and friends in Pakistan Times. — STM