THE BEHEADING OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST (QATIL YAHUNNA) – DRAMA STAGED IN THE GARDEN OF MAH SINGH GUJARANWALA – ASSOCIATION OF M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI WITH CHRISTIANS
The very first passion of M.A. Rahman Chughtai was in being a writer. His favourite past time was in writing plays, and parallel to being an artist, he wrote things all his life. The creativity of his art was also reflected in his writings. He was fond of saying that even before a painting is made, it comes to him in the form of a story. In a small wood selling shop in Yakki Gate, his creativity started in full swing. One of his earliest inspiration was a biblical tale of the beheading of St John the Baptist. That was the time when he was associated with the Punjab Religious Book Society in Lahore. This drama also published by them in book form and our copy was with Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj, and the relevant copy with Mrs Najmuddin was unfortunately lost. We may find one in some discarded library. We try all the time.
In any case the drama staged at two places. One was at Malik Theater, Bhatti Gate, Lahore, where it is rumoured to have not been very successful. But it was also staged in the Sheranwala Garden of Mah Singh Mausoleum in Gujranwala. And there it was on for months and appreciated by the Christian community, as well as Muslim friends of the artist. This show led to the formation of BUT-KADA a film production house of M.A. Rahman Chughtai and that is a story we have already told in another blog.
One thing is certain here. The drama book calligraphed by Din Muhammed Katib has a childlike illustration on it related to SILVER KING of Agha Hashar. It has a sign in the corner saying ‘M R’. The illustration is related to a series of dramas published in Lahore around 1908-1915, and this is the SCHOOL period of M.A. Rahman Chughtai. There is every reason to believe that this illustration is also by M.A. Rahman Chughtai as a school child, and that matter is a matter of record too. THE FIRST DUST-COVER ON RECORD OF M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI. It seems to us to be so. He was doing covers for such small publications at that time. In the end he must have made at least 500 of them.