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Majority of population has beendeprived the pleasure of Cinema which now only elite can afford- Javed Jabbar

Brig A.R. Siddiqi used his Pen to serve the country not the Gun-Wajid Jawad
Romantic personality of Brig.Siddiqui is also reflected in the book-Saeed Allawala

KARACHI: Atco Literary Society in collaboration with Delhi Punjabi Saudagran Foundation organized a book launching ceremony for “A City, Cinema and A Community” authored by Brig. Retd.A. R. Siddiqi which is the 10th book by the author, on January 13th 2024. Former Senator Javed Jabbar who also served as a Federal Minister chaired the session while Sirajuddin Aziz Banking Mohtasib was the chief guest on this occasion. The speakers who expressed their views on the book included Mr. Wajid Jawad and Ms. Durriya Kazi.

Mr. Saeed Allawala Chairman Atco Laboratories presenting Mementoes to
Mr. Javed Jabbar, Wajid Jawad, Ms. Durriya Kazi, Mr. Sirajuddin Aziz the distinguished speakers at the formal book launching ceremony of “A City, Cinema and A Community” authored by Brig. A. R. Siddiqui held at Karachi recently.
The meeting was organized by Atco Literary Society.

Speaking on the occasion Mr. Javed Jabbar paid rich tributes to the author who was a distinct personality who authored his tenth book at the age of ninety nine years. This, he said, was a distinct book which the readers will enjoy reading it. I have always enjoyed reading his critical analysis a distinct part of journalism and the Defense Journal he used to edit. He has talked about the city of Delhi which was a great city, was destroyed by the British but then rebuilt in the 19th century. Delhi survived and the author has recalled her childhood, referred to Lal Qila, the Sunehari Masjid. There were social divisions but everyone was safe and all joined together on numerous occasions.

The book contains his reflections and he has paid tribute to Delhi and to the magic of Cinema of those days. Alas what Cinema is of today in 2024. Cinemas of 1930s was different which brought together Muslims, Hindus and Christian, Parsis who will see the film together regardless of cast, color. Though two nations were born but cinema continued their collaborative activity. Currently we have just sixty Cinemas and one hundred fifteen screens in the country though we need to have at least six thousand cinema houses. We are killing cinema a unique medium. At present almost 70-80% of the population cannot afford to see Cinema which only the elite can afford a ticket of eight hundred to twelve hundred rupees which in the good old days used to be few Anna’s or rupees. It used to be most economical entertainment and relaxation for the people.

I know two big Malls in the city had plans to build cinemas but had to abandon their plans under pressure from the family members. He was of the view that there should be no harm to allow a few selected Indian movies so that the Cinema houses can make money to survive though we cannot have normal trade with India due to their atrocities in Kashmir. In the past it used to cost three crore rupees to construct a Cinema but now the cost has increased to over eight crore rupees. The author has also talked about the commercial slump in 1930s specially of the retail business. In those days Cinema houses was part of the city’s cultural life, he remarked.

Mr. Sirajuddin Aziz in his most comprehensive review of the book said that he got a shock. When he started reading it, he could not leave it till he had finished reading it as it was so absorbing. The book has many segments. Certain segments in the society were against cinema, issued Fatwas against it but it is also a fact that all new movies used to be screened first on Friday. After finishing their Friday prayers people used to rush to the Cinema houses. There was a time only male could go to Cinema houses and females were not allowed to go there. He remembers the famous actors, actresses of those days, the important Films. He has also talked about and covered Ishrat Bano the first women Musician of India, plagiarism in poetry in India. He has also referred to an incident wherein when the Sahib starts taking interest in Maid servant and when she stops coming, he goes after her where he is told that “Sweepers also has an honor”.

The books give a taste of history of Indian Cinema, its decline and decay of human behavior in detail. Ms. Durriya Kazi recalled that Brig. A.R. Siddiqui has earlier written about Fauj and Siyasat, Taqseem-e-Hind and Bahadar Shah Zafar, East Pakistan, Fall of Dhaka, and other subjects but this latest book looks a part of his autobiography. It contains authentic information and true stories. Cinema, she said, is not only important but an integral part of people’s life. People used to get relief going to Cinema. All motion pictures used to start on Friday. It used to be said that children should not go to Cinema. Novella is a Novel which covers the story of two girls Jamila and Hasina. The book talks about the wounds of Delhi which was ruined, it has also discussed the cultural transformation. It has technical information about Cinema, how Cinema was evolved, the Music and Mujra, the Bombay and Bengal music have all been covered making it full of information for the readers.

In his brief address on the occasion Brig. A. R. Siddiqi said that the speakers have made me naked and he was happy at this development. Due to partition of India, he opined, we lost more than we got as we could not get many States. Since Muhammad Ali Jinnah is our great leader and we love him, he won’t say anything more. He also referred to the famous speech of Quaid-e-Azam when he said that people are free to go to the mosques, their temples but events later saw lot of bloodshed and millions of people were killed and we saw massive migration of population which had its own consequences.

Earlier Mr. Saeed Allawala Chairman of Atco Laboratories in his welcome address thanked Brig. A.R. Siddiqi for providing an opportunity to publish this book by Atco Literary Society. The book consists of fascinating recollections and it travels down the memory lane. It also reflects his thoughts as a social scientist. Though Brig. Siddiqi has earlier published nine books but they were on different topics hence his romantic personality only got reflected in this book. He believes that certain Islamic teachings are not correctly interpreted which gives the impression as if they are not suitable for the present day situation. Religions leaders were against Cinema, they even did not welcome other technological innovaitons but now even some of them are the owners of TV Channels and vast majority of religious leaders makes use of these Television Channels. His other observation about the book was that the author Brig. Siddiqui has incredible memory. He has penned the minute details and how he still remembers those things after seventy to eighty years is remarkable.

It was a unique gesture on the part of Atco Literary Society to have helped publication of this book but the fact that complimentary copies of the book were also presented to all the participants deserve special mention and deserve to be commended. It will certainly ensure much greater readership and people will benefit from the historical reflections by Brig A.R. Siddiqui who also served as Head of the ISPR in Army for six years. The function was attended by a select gathering of businessmen particularly those related to Delhi Punjabi Saudagran Foundation, Pharmaceutical industry, writers and representatives from different sections of the society.

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