Photo by Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
Photo by Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

A huge audience thoroughly enjoyed an evening at the Ali Institute where acclaimed actor, imitable elocutionist and compere Zia Mohyeddin read out excerpts from the writings of Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi.

The evening by Mr Mohyeddin is the regular feature of Lahore’s cultural calendar being organised by Navid Riaz for the last 31 years.

Reading of the humorous pieces by Yusufi, and that too by a Zia Mohyeddin, one can imagine to what extent the audience must have enjoyed the evening, bursting into laughter time and again. The choice of excerpts is made by Mr Mohyeddin himself each year from Urdu language’s vast repertoire of hilarious pieces of literature like the ones by Mushtaq Yusufi.

Since the 1980s, Zia Mohyeddin has paid tributes to a number of Urdu’s great writers and poets. On Sunday evening, he read out many pieces from Yusufi’s collection.

In between his readings, leading Sitarist of the country Ustad Nafees Khan played sitar, entertaining the audience with his music.

During the previous years in connection with this particular annual evening at Ali Institute, Zia Mohyeddin has paid tributes to Faiz Ahmad Faiz while celebrating Faiz’s 100th anniversary and read his poetry, letters and prose.

The readings by him have featured works by a very long and illustrious list of writers and poets: Ibne Insha, Patras Bokhari, Noon Meem Rashid, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Iqbal, Ghalib, Satya Pal Anand, Intizar Husain, Daud Rahbar, Saadat Hassan Manto, Ismat Chughtai, Shahid Ahmed Dehlvi, Rattan Nath Sarshar, Radaulvi, Akbar Allahabadi, Rasheed Ahmed Siddiqui, and Muhammad Hussain Azad. Every year the readings by Zia Mohyeddin are recorded and preserved on CDs which are a valuable reference for Urdu researchers and professors.

Originally published in Dawn, January 21st, 2019