URDU AND M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI
TRANSLATING ART STUDIES INTO URDU LANGUAGE
National efforts for integration of art knowledge
All our national icons in their search for the identity of Pakistan were finding equation of integration of knowledge in simple terms for cognition by all in a society. It was well understood that we were lagging behind in analysis and study of aesthetics. Efforts had to be made to make art knowledge accessible to the masses. While obsessed with creating art, M.A. Rahman Chughtai was also obsessed in passing art knowledge to the people.
Part of the ‘Niazmandan’ Lahore group promoting Urdu language, M.A. Rahman Chughtai was accompanied in his struggle by friends like Dr Muhammed Din Taseer, Dr Nazir Ahmad, Hafeez Jullundri, Pitras Bokhari, Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum, Imtiaz Ali Taj, Colonel Majeed Malik, and many others. They were doing their best to promote Urdu, and Chughtai was doing his best to promote Urdu as a language of the Arts. Many concrete steps were taken. Out of his own meager resources, he was promoting Art in Urdu language. The magazine ‘Karawan’ was one of them. Published and printed by him, it carried articles on Art and literature by his friends. Even Dr Allama Iqbal was asked to contribute to it and he did. Chughtai wrote about Art in Urdu language, and asked his friends to write the same too. The first prestigious annual was taken out in 1933 and the second one in 1934. The first one was edited by Dr Muhammmed Din Taseer, the second one by Colonel Majeed Malik (Dr Taseer declined to do the second for financial reasons). Then bankruptcy occurred, as the magazine made literary waves but could not generate enough funds for continuation of same.
A strange case is recited by a bigoted Hindu writer Som Anand, as he narrates his visit to the artist in his studios. One of the most bizarre accusations made by him about the artist was the artist’s insistence in talking about Art in terms of Urdu and Punjabi. This horrified the zero intellectual Hindu of his times. He writes:
“After a few minutes, Chughtai Sahib also came into the room and after a normal introduction, we started talking about his work. As we proceeded with our conversation, I glanced again at the celebrated painter. His disheveled hair and unkempt clothes made him look like a domestic servant of a middle class family.
To me the most striking thing in this conversation was that he spoke in very simple Punjabi and his unsophisticated accent sounded almost like the speech of an unlettered villager. In a talk lasting about an hour and a half, he did not once use the kind of jargon which modern painters and their critics employ so often to intimidate and overawe the listeners. It left me amazed to hear that so many intricate points about painting could be explained in the simple Punjabi he used.”
Som Anand is offering proof of the venom in his heart, proof of the strength of the two nation theory, and proof of his lack of knowledge. He is giving a racial slur and he needed to be taken to court. But all this is not out of the blues, it is all planned as a conspiracy.
Credit goes to M.A. Rahman Chughtai for enhancing study of Art in Urdu and Punjabi language. Well done, Sir!