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URDU humour column has a long history. Though ' Oudh Punch ', a humorous magazine launched from Lucknow in 1877, ran humorous pieces and even its editorial notes had a tinge of humour, they were not 'columns' in the true sense of the word.

Maulvi Sirajuddin Ahmed (died 1909), Maulana Zafar Ali Khan's father and the founding editor of Zamindar , is credited with writing the first humour column in Urdu. Beginning in the year 1904, Sirajuddin's humorous piece would appear on the first of April every year. He named his column April fool and these pieces were later published in a slim volume by the same name.

After its inception in the early 20th century, Urdu humour column has come a long way and has become so popular that today almost every Urdu newspaper runs a regular humour column. But during this journey of over a hundred years, there have been many silent soldiers who wrote humour columns under pseudonyms and preferred to remain unknown and unacknowledged. Today, we may not know the real names of many humour column writers but their contribution is important nevertheless.

The study of anonymous writers of Urdu humour columns is quite interesting. But there are quite a few pennames that were traced down to the real authors. We know now, for instance, that Zafar Ali Khan (1873-1956) wrote the humour columns published in Zamindar under the title Fukahaat , though it carried the penname of Naqqaash'. Later, Chiragh Hasan Hasrat (1904-1955) wrote Fukahaat in Zamindar . During Zamnidar 's final years, Abdul Majeed Salik (1894-1959) wrote Afkar-o-hawadis in it and later wrote the same column in Inqelaab . Before him, Ghulam Rasool Mehr (1894-1971) used to write it in Zamindar . Mulla Ramoozi, a very popular humorist, also wrote for Zamindar and he named his column Gulaabi Urdu . Haji Luqluq, another humorist and journalist, wrote his column Luqlauqa in Zamindar . The editor of Ziyafat Punch Allama Hussain Mir had joined Zamindar and he too contributed his humorous pieces.

Zamindar has not only the distinction of introducing humour column to Urdu journalism but it also played a major role in carrying forward the tradition and popularising it. Another newspaper that produced good humorist was Hamdard , launched and edited by Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauher (1878-1931). Mehfooz Ali Badayooni (1870-1943) wrote his column Tajaahul-i-aamiyaana in it but he hid himself behind the penname of Mulla Kaatib Budhamuvi. In his absence, Muhammad Farooq Divana (died 1968), Majnoon Gorakhpuri's father, used to write it. Farooq Divana contributed another column, Malfoozaat-i-Haji Baghlaul , too, to Hamdard . Wilayat Ali Bambauq (1885-1918), an Aligarian, sometimes wrote in Urdu, though basically he wrote in English. His columns named Gup and Titbits appeared in Comrade and New Era . Hamdard had among his columnists other big names such as Mir Baqar Ali Daastango (1850-1928).

Al-Hilal , launched by Abul Kalam Azad (1888-1958), was another landmark in the history of Urdu journalism that carried satirical pieces. Azad himself wrote his regular columns under the title Afkar-o-hawadis and Hadees-ul-ghashia . Sultan Haider Josh (1886-1953), a satirist and fiction writer, contributed to Naqeeb but under the penname of John Bill. Chiragh Hasan Hasrat had initially joined Nai Dunya , a newspaper published from Culcutta (now Kolkata). Here he wrote by the pennames of Columbus and Koochagard. Hasrat's another penname was Sindbaad Jahazi which he chose for his column in Ehsaan . He also wrote the humour column Bagh-o-bahar for Imroz and Nawa-i-waqt .

Ibn-i-Insha (1927-1978) used many pennames for his humour columns in Imroz and they included Darvesh Damishqi, Haji Baba Isfahani and Pehla Darvesh. In Imroz , Ibn-i-Insha, Nasrullah Khan, Qazi Abrar Siddiqi and Tufail Ahmed Jamali used to write the column Chahar darvesh ke qalam se alternatively. Ibn-i-Insah had become one of the most popular columnists and he had also written for Anjam , Hurriyet , Jang , Akhbar-i-khawateen and Akhbar-i-jahan at different times. Majeed Lahori wrote Harf-o-hikayat for Jang . Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi adopted penname of Anqa for his column in Imroz . Waghaira waghaira was the name Ibrahim Jalees gave to his satirical column published in Jang . Nasrullah Khan's column, published in Hurriyet , was titled Adaab arz .

And there are many others whose names cannot be mentioned here for want of space. But among them there was a columnist who was a poet too but never really cared for name and did not bother to collect his columns or poetry. He was a darvesh, true to his penname Pehla Darvesh. Tufail Ahmed Jamali was his real name. Jamali was a journalist, poet, satirist, humorist and a columnist.

Born in Benares (now Varanasi), UP, in 1919, Jamali did his BA from Allahabad University. With a knack for writing and a keen interest in politics, he worked for different newspapers in Delhi as a part-timer and later joined Manshoor . After the Independence, Jamali migrated to Pakistan and worked for Jang , Karachi. When Mian Iftikharuddin launched Imroz 's Karachi edition, he appointed Chiragh Hasan Hasrat its editor who, realising Jamali's potential, offered him to join Imroz . In Imroz , Jamali would write the humour column with the penname of Pehla Darvesh. He wrote another column named Gar tu bura na mane in the paper's weekly issue. His profound satire on country's political and social ills made his column very popular.

A restless soul as Jamali was, he couldn't do the same work for too long and would hop from one job to another. When Imroz 's Karachi edition closed down, Jamali began writing songs and dialogues for movies. He would write many articles a week anonymously, according to Malik Ram, in Nigar , a Karachi weekly that covered the film world. Later, after Majeed Lahori's death, he took over Namakdan , a humour magazine, and would not only edit it but used to contribute a major portion of the material published in it. But he could do it for hardly two years and in 1963 joined Anjaam , a daily published from Karachi. In the meantime, he had joined Pakistan Writers' Guild and in addition to serving it as secretary, Jamali edited the Guild's magazine Ham qalam too.

In 1965, Jamali became National Investment Trust's public relations officer but, as usual, did not continue it for too long and just after a year, on the invitation of the Chinese government, went to China to join Radio Peking's Urdu magazine Tasveer-i-Cheen .

Faiz Ahmed Faiz began editing Lail-o-nahaar from Karachi in 1970. Jamali, who had returned from China in 1969, began writing his famous column Gar tu bura na mane for it but only to quit soon to launch his own weekly, Inqelaab which could survive for only five issues.

Jamali was a happy-go-lucky sort of person. The idea of how carefree he was can be had from the fact that in May 1965 he had missed PIA's inaugural flight to London via Cairo. He was invited by the airline to join a group of journalists and other dignitaries to celebrate the inauguration. But failing to catch the flight was a blessing in disguise as the ill-fated flight crashed while trying to land at the Cairo airport, killing over 100 people on board. Only six persons could survive.

Tufail Ahmed Jamali died on August 12, 1974, in Karachi and was buried in the city's Sakhi Hassan graveyard.

drraufparekh@yahoo.com