Tale of a dying art.
Book Title: Khattati ka Shah Jehan
Author: Rasheed Shahid
Publisher: Al-Qalam Publisher
The rule of soulless equipment and unfeeling machines repress a sense of empathy among human beings which turns them into heartless species, according to Allama Iqbal. The same goes for a miraculous multipurpose invention like the computer, which has impacted every phase of life and has ushered in the demise of such traditional art forms as calligraphy.
The book 'Khattati ka Shah Jehan' revolves around a late Pakistani calligrapher Sharif Gulzar, who can be referred to as one of the pioneers of calligraphy in Urdu journalism in the country, but owing to no patronage from the government and due to a lack of acknowledgement from the print media, Gulzar could not gain the status he deserved.
Born in 1931 in Punjab, Sharif Gulzar learned the art of calligraphy from Khalifa Ahmed Hussain Suhail Raqam. In 1954, he started his career as a professional calligrapher at Roznama Hilal-e-Pakistan and later worked with such leading newspapers as Kohistan, Roznama Mashriq, Akhbar-e-Khwateen and many other Urdu publications. At Mashriq, he worked from 1963 to 1983 as a Chief Art Editor and Chief Calligrapher.
Compiled by Rasheed Shahid, the book contains 49 articles which are mainly written by Sharif Gulzar's colleagues and friends, describing his journey of being a leading calligrapher of his time and highlighting his valuable services to print journalism.
Among the leading contributors are Shakeel Adil Zada, Farhad Zaidi, Dr. Yaseen Rizvi, Intizar Hussain, Hafiz Shafeeq-Ur-Rehman, Abdul Rasheed Shahid, Mujahid Barelvi, Aftab Zafar and many others. The book is an account of the late artist's life and also a tale of the dying art of calligraphy.
It starts with a foreword which gives a brief description about calligraphy, its technical aspects, different styles and its evolution as an exclusive visual art form which is now on the verge of beicoming obsolete.
The compiler of the book, Rasheed Shahid, is also an expert calligrapher and has worked with Sharif Gulzar for more than two decades. He admits that the lot of art editors, layout designers and calligraphers are never mentioned whenever the evolution and development of journalism in Pakistan is discussed at any forum, which is really frustrating.
Overall, the volume covers the life of Sharif Gulzar in details and highlights his lifelong services and contributions to the art of page-making and layout designing.
Some rare calligraphy templates are also included in the book. Printed on colourful glossy paper, Khattati ka Shah Jehan is a great tribute to Sharif Gulzar and his work and also presents a valuable record of the history and evolution of calligraphy in Pakistan.