LAHORE: A testimonial session in honour of renowned columnist, poet, writer and humanitarian, Muneer Ahmed Qureshi alias Munnu Bhai was held under the umbrella of the Lahore Literary Festival 2018 on Saturday.
The session, named as ‘Munnu Bhai Ki Yaad Main Jangal Udaas Hain’, was moderated by acclaimed drama writer Asghar Nadeem Syed, while other honourable speakers included poet Kishwar Naheed, poet and human rights activist Ibn Abdur Rehman and columnist Masood Ashar.
Speaking on occasion, Asghar Nadeem Syed said that Munnu bhai was an integral part of his career as a drama writer and that the deceased giant of Pakistan’s literary industry has inspired a generation.
“I used to visit him every day in the morning on my way to college. It was a crucial time of the day, since he used to write his columns during that time. Munnu Bhai was the most popular intellectual of his time and it was because of his loving and humourous personality,” He said.
Feminist poet Kishwar Naheed told the audience about Munnu bhai’s masterful playwriting skills and mentoring. She said that Muneer, apart from fulfilling his duties as a script writer, used to guide the actors regarding dialogue delivery, expressions and execution.
“Muneer was not just an outstanding playwright, he was a mentor too. He would guide the actors regarding dialogue delivery, expressions, when to smile, when to cry and about everything a character needs,” Kishwar said.
I.A. Rehman, while addressing the attendees, regarded Muneer Ahmed as a multi-talented individual who had a firm grip over several topics of concern. He added that Munnu bhai neither compromised on his principles nor on his journalistic duties.
“Muneer was a multi-tasker. He was chief reporter for Masawat and at the same time, he was linked to Television and was an untouchable columnist. If you ask a piano player about science, he would not have an answer and vice versa. Munnu bhai was different, however, as he had various dimensions covered and never compromised on his principles,” said I.A. Rehman.
Paying homage to his deceased acquaintance, Masood Ashar said that Pakistan has ceased to produce brains like Muneer Ahmed. He also exerted that the deceased legend never compromised on his principles and that he never surrendered to ‘crushing authority’.
“I do not see journalists like Munnu bhai in Pakistan anymore. He never compromised on his beliefs and principles. During Yahya Khan’s regime, he was exiled to Multan for vehemently opposing dictatorial rule. We, however, in Multan considered his arrival as a gift which changed the city for good,” Ashar said.
Upon a question from one of the attendees regarding the decline of literature’s popularity among the current generation and a basic lack of association with giants like Munni bhai, Asghar Nadeem said that the growth of mainstream media and anchorpersons have deprived the youth of literary activities. He also complained about a lack of LLF coverage by the mainstream media.
Munnu bhai passed away on January 19, marking an end to a glorious era of progressive journalism and activism. He wrote several dramas for Pakistan Television including the acclaimed ‘Sona Chaandi’. His column titled ‘Girebaan’ in Daily Jang was one of his many intellectual masterpieces.
Munnu Bhai was also awarded with Presidential Pride of Performance in 2007.
Pictures from the session