Imtiaz Ali Taj was a dramatist whose plays have been taught from Matric/O’Level to masters level in Pakistan for over fifty years. He is best known for his masterpiece tragedy Anarkali, Chacha Chhakkan, humour and Araam-o-Sukoon, a satire – plays several generations have read in school and remember. He is a writer old and young alike are familiar with.
Those who spoke on his work and personality included Naeem Tahir, Asghar Nadeem Syed, Salman Peerzada, Ali Tahir, Zulfiqar Ali Zulfi and Mansoor Afaq,Dr Saleem malik and renowned Hollywood actor faran tahir (Grandson of Taj) among others. The organisers were Ali Tahir, Qaratul Ain Ali and Shahzad Roshan Gilani.
A beautiful documentary prepared by Taj’s grandson, actor, director Ali Tahir on his life was much appreciated. He also showed excerpts from a series by the name Taj Classics that he directed for Hum TV. Taj wrote in many genres. Romance, adventure and tragedy are what people remember most.
The first edition of Anarkali was published in 1930. Film Anarkali and Mughal-e-Azam came later. The first edition of Taj’s Anarkali fetched 4,000 Sterling Pound from a Dubai-based buyer. Taj was no more there when Anarkali was first staged in Alhamra with Naeem Tahir’s effort. The government had earlier consented to give space for staging the play in Sheesh Mahal, Lahore Fort but then Naeem Tahir was asked to remove the dance from the play, which he said could not be removed. At this, the government backed off from its offer to let the play be staged in Sheesh Mahal. It was then staged in Alhamra hall. Naeem Tahir recalled how the stage designer had prepared a marvelous stage for Anarkali a star-studded cast with golden and silver wrappings (panni) in cigarette boxes that gave the great effect of Sheesh Mahal. It was nothing ordinary, he recalled.
When a person is remembered by name, and particularly when we are seeking guidance from his work and from the life he lived, he lives on, Naeem Tahir said, adding he was fortunate to learn from giants like Imtiaz Ali Taj and Rafi Peer. He talked about the cultural activities at the place that is now Alhamra and struggles of people like Imtiaz Ali Taj, Rafi Peer, Anwar Sajjad, Kamal Ahmad Rizvi and others for providing good dramas. Ali Tahir, the youngest grandchild of Taj, has done great work to promote Taj’s work. Apart from TV serial on Taj’s plays he turned Sitara, a radio drama into a TV drama. ‘Kamra No. 5’ was a humorous play. He said by doing this play he realised that humour too can be timeless. “Said or Sayyad”, another play he did of Taj for TV, was a thriller. In short, he has done a lot of work to keep the work of Imtiaz Ali Taj alive.
Zulfiqar Ali Zulfi, the former executive director of Alhamra, suggested a festival in which Taj’s dramas should be staged and fresh dramas invited. Lahore has the honour to have the greatest number of creative people. Imtiaz Ali Taj was among the people who were instrumental in the making of Alhamra functional. Among them were Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Naeem Tahir as well. He said stage drama has nearly vanished and ‘Bhaands’ have taken their place. Still there are young people doing drama, he said and appealed to the people to come and see their plays.
An authority on Syed imtiaz ali taj Dr saleem malik talked on personality and work of Mr Taj because dr saleem malik has given many years of his life to search on syed imtiaz ali taj.