Najeebullah Anjum

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Najeebullah Anjum, PTV actor

Hot Seat

By Sher Alam Shinwari


Favourite actors: Mohammad Ali, Samita Patel Favourite movie: Zeenat Favourite singer: Mehdi Hasan Favourite writer: Ashfaq Ahmed Favourite book: Hayat-e-Sahaba

Najeebullah Anjum

Najeebullah Anjum, a versatile actor, was born in the historic city of Peshawar in 1955. Bred and educated in this historical city, he believes he was born to be an actor.

“I think I am a born actor,” he claims as he balances his spectacles on his nose. “During my early school days I used to participate in stage dramas and I would feel great satisfaction in playing out different roles. I was the general secretary of our school’s drama club and received prizes in that capacity several times. I would most often draw pleasure out of doing the parody of my school teachers for which the senior proctors would impose fine on me. This was the first trial of an inborn actor who slowly and gradually came out of me back in 1974.”

Najeebullah’s natural inclination towards this field was further nurtured because his maternal uncle was senior film and TV artiste Wadood Manzar. He reveals, “My uncle used to take me to the TV centre, where I would closely watch the performance of actors during rehearsals. One day an artiste was playing out a milkman but his performance did satisfy the producer. I fearfully asked my uncle that I would play the role well if I am offered a chance. The producer agreed and I did the role well. I was instantly given a contract for that memorable Hindko play Sufaid Posh, penned down by Majeedul Hasan and produced by Tariq Saeed.”

He has so far worked in 500 Urdu, Hindko and Pashto plays from Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad PTV centres. The most memorable of all his plays ‘Matti Auor Mashkeeza’ and ‘Khawab Kem Khawab’ written by Fazal Hussain Sameem and Mustinsar Hussain Tarar won him widespread recognition. Right from the beginning he made it a point to play a variety of roles with main focus on character roles.

Najeebullah is the recipient of Pride of Performance, best actor and numerous other local awards. About PTV plays he remarks, “Yes, I agree that the quality of PTV’s plays has declined over the last few years. Lack of professionalism, unionism and political intervention has robbed PTV of its creative work and vision. Also the retiring and senior people could not transfer their skill to their junior lot. The situation further deteriorated with the arrival of private TV channels with no agenda of highlighting public issues. As a result, our youngsters’ minds were poisoned with a lust for money and glamour. The powerful and emotionally charged dialogue with artificial expressions can only raise one’s blood pressure. The same is true of the so-called modern music,” regrets Najeeb.

He says he listens to Lataji, Mehdi Hasan and Khial Mohammad. He likes semi-classical and light music. “Khial Mohammad has got a matchless voice that not only touches your soul but also heals it. I have no all-time favourite singer but Mehdi Hasan reigns over my heart. I am not too much in favour of pop music, which is short-lived and casts no soothing and permanent impact on one’s mind,” he adds.

Modern music to him is mere confusion, “Whether fusion, diffusion or remix, I don’t approve of any the type.”

Regarding art activities and closure of Nishtar Hall in Peshawar he says, “The sitting provincial government closed down the only place of performing art in the Frontier without going for the root cause. The obscenity increased manifold in the shape of CD culture. Exceptions are always there.

He further suggests, “There is an intense need for an art academy in the Frontier also but that alone can’t give birth to art. It only helps polish and chisels art. For any aspiring artiste, experience, sharp observation and a sound educational background are some of the prerequisites for plunging into the arena of the performing art.”

Sharing his views about movies, Najeebullah Anjum says that his participation in Khalid Rauf’s film Laaj was a better experience but recently Shoaib Mansoor’s film For God Sake, both in Urdu and English, which would be presented for competition at an international film festival, would prove hopefully better off.

“My focus is on the theme, script and the strength of role. I absorb the character which borders on self negativity. Once a TV producer asked me to lower my body into a filthy gutter which I did without a second thought,” recalls the artiste.

He believes that the Pakistani film industry is on the verge of destruction due to the same reasons he has mentioned earlier about the decline of drama. Among the actors and actresses of both Lollywood and Bollywood he praises Mohammad Ali, Zeba, Nadeem, Shabnum, Rangeela, Dilip Kumar, Nasiruddin Shah, and Samita Patel.

He has worked with many of the fine artistes of the country. From the older lot, Najeebullah votes for Talat Hussain, Khailda Riasat, Rohi Bano and Qavi Khan. He thinks that Mohammad Ali had that charisma which could inspire the young and old alike due to his incredible performances and mesmerizing personality.

“Frankly speaking, I don’t have much time for watching movies but I take out time for movies that reach the cult status.

Umrao Jaan Ada, Lakhon Mein Aik, Andalib, Pakeeza, Lazawaal and Mera Naam Hai Muhabat are some of Pakistani flicks that have contributed to our national identity. My favourite movie you can say is Zeenat, one of the greatest Pakistani musical hits ever,” informs Najeebullah Anjum.

Talking about reading, he says, “Earlier I used to read poets like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ahmed Faraz, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi and Munir Niazi, but later on my taste took a twist for reading books on religious subjects. Presently I am browsing through Hayat-e-Sahaba and Makhazan-e-Akhlaaq. The former left a deep impact on my mind,” says he. Najeebullah maintains that Sufi poetry really purifies one’s soul.

Most writers have considerably contributed to shaping the outlook of the masses. Ashfaq Ahmed, Naseem Hijazi and many more gave us an insight into our spiritual world which we are unaware of.

“Unfortunately, reading as soul searching experience has declined and nobody bothers about its value. Our youngsters don’t know how Sachal Sarmast, Rahman Baba, Shah Latif, Baba Farid Ganj Shakkar and Bulleh Shah Baba brought about a remarkable change in the lives of the poor masses. Big books corners are rapidly replaced by garments shops and food resorts which show that the priorities of our people have changed over the years for outward ostentation instead of attaining any intellectual calibre,” Najeebullah observes with deep sigh of regret.

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