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LARKANA: A documentary on the life and works of great Sufi poet of Sindh Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai was launched at a ceremony held at the Knowledge Centre here late Thursday night.

The writer and producer of the documentary and former director of the Institute of Educational Tech­no­logy, Allama Iqbal Univer­sity, Islamabad, Mohammad Qasim Haider, briefed the audience on the film.

He said that this was the first-ever non-commercial, academic and complete documentary in Urdu language on the life and works of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, which had been prepared after arduous efforts of 10 years.

This was also for the first time that the documentary was being introduced in Sindh, he said.

He said the 90-minute-long documentary covered all aspects of life, works and travels of Bhitai with subtitles in English to make it convenient for people to receive and understand the message of Bhitai.

He said it was very informative which on one hand partially fulfilled the requirements of undergrad courses offered by the university while on the other introduced this great poet to the people of all provinces of Pakistan and other countries as well so that they could benefit from the egalitarian approach and down-to-earth philosophy of the great poet.

He said that in the documentary, noted scholars of the country and experts on Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s poetry and its message, including Iftikhar Arif of the Pakistan Academy of Letters, Dr Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch, Shaikh Aziz, Abida Parveen, Amar Jalil, Dr Inam-ul-Haq Javed of the National Book Foundation, Prof Dr Abdul Jabbar Junejo and Prof Dr Aman Memon, had recorded their comments. He also said that to give an authentic touch to the documentary, the recording was done in various parts of Sindh, Balochistan and India where Shah Latif travelled and stayed and made mention of them in his poetry.

He said the script of the documentary was based on the research of prominent scholars of Sindh — Dr Nawaz Ali Shouk, Dr Nabi Bakhsh Jumani and Dr Hakim Ali Buriro — who also supervised the project.

In the documentary, besides ancestral background of Shah sahib, socio-political conditions of his era, his message and Surs of his poetry, compilations of Shah jo Risalo by various researchers and scholars, the tradition of Sama, invention of musical instrument named Danboro and Sindhi Raag introduced by Shah Latif had been discussed by various scholars.

In the documentary, the poetry sung by traditional singers and faqirs of the shrine of Shah Bhitai and famous singers Alan Fakir, Abida Parveen and Mohammad Yusuf had been included.

Mr Haider said Shah Abdul Latif was not only the poet of great calibre, but he also knew the art of singing to a great deal. He invented the musical instrument Danboro and introduced many new traditions in singing which were altogether new in Sindhi Raag of that era.

The audience watched the documentary with immense enthusiasm and interest and gave big applause at the end and appreciated the efforts of its producer.

Earlier, Prof Mukhtiar Ahmed Samo, a writer and founder of the Knowledge Centre, said Shah Abdul Latif was a poet who through his poetry spread the message of peace, tranquillity, tolerance and love.

He said Bhitai had rejected religious extremism and prayed for the well-being of all humankind irrespective of their creed, caste and colour. He said Bhitai had enriched the Sindhi language through his poetry and also preserved the socio-political, cultural and geographical history of Sindh in his verses which were serving as an important source of information to present-day researchers.

He said that it was need of the time to spread the poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai far and wide in the country to counter extremism and other negative trends.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2019