KARACHI, July 6: Friends, colleagues and fans of the late journalist Murtaza Razvi came together to pay tribute to and celebrate the intellectual at the launch of his book Pittho’s World at the Arts Council of Pakistan on Saturday.
The work of fiction, published posthumously by HarperCollins India, “is a novel with stories of numerous characters, as well as that of the narrator himself. The entire novel spans a period of about two centuries, and is spread out over a large geographical space that consists of countries like 19th-century Iran, pre-partition India, which then becomes Pakistan, particularly Lahore, Karachi etc, East Pakistan/Bangladesh (Dhaka). This geographical space even includes the land of the Caucasus, if only in a fairytale, as well as the Swiss city of Zurich. Due to the numerous characters and settings, one would think that just the amount of material to be dealt in a book like Pittho’s World would turn the text into a large jumble of characters and events. But it hasn’t,” said Soonha Abro who has reviewed the book.
Dawn.com uploaded her complete review of Pittho’s World on Saturday to coincide with the book launch.
On the occasion, former editor of Dawn Saleem Asmi said that Mr Razvi deserved praise both in his life as well as now that he was no more among us. Recalling hiring Mr Razvi in Dawn, Mr Asmi said that he was initially hired as a features writer. “But he was always there wherever needed for any work in the organisation,” he said.
He said that when thinking of bringing out a visual arts magazine after having started Books & Authors and SciTech World, he knew he had the right man for it in Mr Razvi. “I asked him to come up with a dummy for Gallery and he came back with a full dummy for the magazine within just a couple of hours,” he said.
“Even after I left Dawn he gave the same respect to me as when I was the paper’s editor. There are very few people I have come across of his calibre and nature,” he said.
Another former colleague, the former editor of the leader page in Dawn, Zubeida Mustafa said she could feel the change in Dawn after Mr Razvi’s joining it. “Murtaza was a versatile person. He was a journalist, scholar, art critic, but above all he was a fine human being. He had a very caring nature that was evident from little gestures and the things he would do for others,” she said.
“He had this way of making the other person feel important. He was much younger to me in age but instead of mixing with his own generation he would spend time with us older lot,” Mrs Mustafa recalled.
“And despite not being in my team of leader writers, he would write editorials, too, whenever requested and always handed in a very good piece of writing thanks to his being so knowledgeable and a great writer,” she added.
Visual artist and poet Moeen Faruqi, one of Mr Razvi’s friends, spoke of his many other talents. “I was pleasantly surprised to find him switch to fluent German while speaking to a German artist on one occasion. He spoke many languages but was the most humble intellectual I have ever known.
“Gallery, the visual arts magazine he brought out week after week, played a critical role in creating space for the visual arts. It was a means of encouragement for upcoming artists while other artists like who could write, too, got a chance to expand their canvas by sharing their thoughts with the readers and it was Mr Razvi’s quiet and powerful contribution to the magazine as its editor that was like a bridging influence between art and history there,” he praised the man’s genius.
Rights activist and journalist Bina Sarwar remembered what a funny person Mr Razvi was despite his huge intellect. “He would not want to be mourned but celebrated,” she said.
The programme was brilliantly conducted by author and artist Rumana Hussain who read out selected portions from the book to keep the audience engaged as they appreciated its writer’s flowing style.
Later, editor of Dawn.com Musadiq Sanwal and young classical dancer Suhaee Abro paid tribute to Mr Razvi through her performance.
Mr Razvi’s eldest daughter, 13-year-old Maya Razvi, officially launched the book with Mr Asmi.