Sayyed Imtiaz Ali Taj

It is about ninety years from now when the legendary Anarkali, was inked and published for the first time. That is, it was in 1922. The very time that fades all colors but hatches coal to become sapphire.

Anarkali, since its dawn at the paper, has been one of the major concerns of the critics. This legendary piece of literature came into being through the fertile pen of Sayyed Imtiaz Ali Taj.

Sayyed Imtiaz Ali Taj is a great name in the history of Urdu drama. He was born on October 13, 1900. He belonged to a literary family. His father, Shamas-ul-Ulema Molvi Sayyed Mumtaz Ali was a prose writer. He founded “publishing house named Dar-ul-Ashaat Punjab in Gowalmandi (Old Lahore). Interestingly, Taj’s mother Sayyeda Muhammadi Begum was also a remarkable writer with 24 books to her credit. She was the editor of Tehzeeb-e-Niswaan, a monthly journal dedicated for women only. It was printed from the very publishing house.

Phool a special journal for children was another dedicated periodical of the publishing house; and Sayyed Imtiaz Ali Taj worked as its editor till 1958.

Anarkali, since its dawn at the paper, has been one of the major concerns of the critics. This legendary piece of literature came into being through the fertile pen of Sayyed Imtiaz Ali Taj.
Taj was a Ravian, that is, he did his graduation from Government College, Lahore. In addition to the jobs mentioned earlier he had been working as the ‘Nazim’ of the Majlis Tarraqi-e-Adab, Lahore as well.

He published several research books on the study of drama, thus almost 61 books (compiled and written) are to his credit. He gave an ever-lasting comedy character Chacha Chakkan to Urdu literature.

Anarkali, a magnum opus of Taj, is an Urdu play, which according to Dr. Tabassum Kashmiri, was actually a piece of oral history. No researcher finds the most celebrated Nadira Begum kaneez famous as Anarkali in the court of Mughal emperor Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar.

However, the spicy love-tale of Shahzada Saleem and Anarkali, which has of course no historical roots, could be listened to by a guide if you are at a visit in Agara, Jaipur or Delhi. This fact has been mentioned in the preface of Anarkali by an honest Taj himself.

This story revolves around the silent love of Shahzada Saleem and Anarkali. Both of them fell for each other but could never announce due to some certain reasons. Meanwhile, Dil Aram (ex-favourite kaneez of Aalam Panaah Akbar and jealous of Anarkali’s pristine beauty informs Akbar that Anarkali was trying to become the next queen of the empire of Hindustan.

How an almighty emperor like Akbar could have tolerated such a misdirected and rude ambition from a kaneez? Therefore, he demanded a few solid evidences testifying the told ambitions of the kaneez.

In order to generate the proofs, Dil Aram makes some secret arrangements and thus was confident to finally put them forth to the emperor on the Jashan-e-Naurooz. She had planned to decorate the throne of Akbar and then make Anarkali dance. She set mirrors everywhere around the throne so that whichever angle the emperor might intend to look through, must watch Anarkali. She, that is how, tried to make sure that the emperor and his son must not miss any move of the dancing beauty.

Dil Aram, tightening the noose around the neck of the ambitions of Anarkali, mixed intoxicative syrup in water. Anarkali drank it during her performance while addressing Shahzada Saleem only. Alam Panaah did not like this bold act; kaneez frankly addressing a crown prince through lyrics, and ordered to arrest her and lock her up till death.

Efforts of Shahzada Saleem and Rani Ajodhen to save the life of the poor beauty went in vain. The emperor ordered to stitch her in a wall. Shahzada Saleem killed Dil Aram for her conspiracy against his love. He started hating his father. And the sad father left the ground of the room of his son Saleem in a great dejection. Shahzada Saleem remained standstill.
Taj concludes this play at this tragic scene.

Taj was only 27 years old when he wrote Anarkali. According to Dr. Saleem Akhtar, it was his bountiful youth which made him write this romantic tragedy.

Taj once said, ‘it is yet to be decided if it is the tragedy of Anarkali or of Saleem, or of Jallal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar. As name ‘Anarkali was such an attractive name that I could not even think of any other, said Taj.

By: Bushra Sheereen

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