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Mujtaba Hussain – A humorist par excellence

J.S. Ifthekhar
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Many people have learned Urdu just to read his articles

Padma Shri Mujtaba Hussain who completed 50 years of humour writing in Urdu.— PHOTO: G. RAMAKRISHNA
Padma Shri Mujtaba Hussain who completed 50 years of humour writing in Urdu.— PHOTO: G. RAMAKRISHNA

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. But in this case, it spans the entire Indian sub-continent. Whatever he writes, creates ripples of laughter across the Urdu world. No prizes for guessing who the writer is. If it is Urdu and humour, it ought to be Mujtaba Hussain.

For the past half a century, this Padmashree recipient has been dishing out what is in great short supply today - humour.

Mr. Hussain’s writings open up the lips and the heart and at the same time show the pearls and the soul.

At 77, he is anything but tired. This Hyderabadi humorist doesn’t believe in resting on laurels. Week after week, he churns out sharp and witty write-ups that are lapped up by his growing fans club.

Two books recently published by the Educational Publishing House, Delhi, bring out some of the finest writes-ups about Mr. Hussain penned by critics and writers of no mean repute.

The book “Mujtaba Hussain Jaisa Dekha Jaisa Paya” is all about his personality while “Mujtaba Hussain Aayeinon ke Beech” deals with his art and style.

At a time when the Urdu language has few takers, Mr. Hussain has revived interest in it through his satirical writings. Many people have learnt Urdu just to read his articles. Today a number of people have done research on him and many waiting to do Ph.D on his art. The enduring appeal of his writings is a tribute to his uncanny sense of humour and the Urdu language itself.

Well known writer-journalist, Khushwant Singh, is an unabashed admirer of Mr. Hussain and feels he is rare among Indian writers of humour.

Pakistan writer, Syed Arif Hussaini, calls Mr. Hussain a purveyor of wit and humour. “He excels in his field due to simplicity of his language, racy style and absence of overlapping themes,” he says.

Sure, Mr. Hussain’s brand of humour is wholesome and straightforward. He creates humour without offending anyone. Borrowed brilliance is not his forte, says Mohd Ali Siddique, Pakistan’s well known critic. In a bid to tickle the funny bone, Mr. Hussain doesn’t compromise on the language either. The simple but literary touch in his works comes as a breath of fresh air.

“His humour is laced with a bitter truth which only a honest person can perceive,” says his daughter, Rashida Samdani. Those who have read his “Apni Yad Mein” composition will know. It is a masterpiece of self obituary wherein the author highlights his own follies while taking pot-shots at life.

The two publications unveil interesting facets of Mr. Hussain’s personality. Several real life incidents are cited to show his ready repartee, subtle intellect and scintillating humour even during trying times.

Man knows how to cry from birth, but laughter takes some learning. But with Mr. Hussain’s ready wit, the job sure becomes easier.

Many people have learnt Urdu just to read Mujtaba Hussain’s articles


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