Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Closure of Biswin Sadi: End of an Era in Urdu journalism

The closure of Biswin Sadi, one of the most popular social-semi-literary Urdu magazine, has come as a shock for Urdu-walas in the country.

It was probably the oldest surviving Urdu magazine in India*. It was just ten years ago that the debate had begun whether the magazine should change its name as the Beeswin Sadi [20th century] was coming to an end.

But it was later decided that the old name would be continued and even after the arrival of the new millennium and the New century, the magazine continued to be published under the same name [It didn't become Ikkiswin Sadi]. Under the late Khushtar Girami, it had already became a great institution.

After his demise, Z Rahman Nayyar, brought out the magazine with the same passion. Until recently it was doing fairly well. Though Shama, Ruby and other similar magazines closed, Biswin Sadi remained the market leader in its own segment.

The satirical Teer-o-Nashtar, the Afsanas (Short stories) and selection of ghazals-nazms, apart from the columns 'selection on couplets based on topics' and the 'Replies to readers' columns were all unique. Ziaur Rahman Naiyar, despite his frail health, and age, was bringing out the magazine.

Stalwarts like Kashmiri Lal Zakir, Izahr Asar, Kailash Mahir and umpteen such names were still visible on the pages of this magazine that gave literary taste to several generations. It was in a different league: much above Khatoon-e-Mashriq and Pakiza Anchal in terms of literary standard.

Once, the great Ram Lal, used to write in Biswin Sadi. Though he was not seriously taken by literary world for the same reason, but he got immense popularity across the sub-continent, because his stories were published in Biswin Sadi.
Over the years it has become a rare sight to find an Urdu magazine outside ghettoes. But apart from Jaraem and Islamic digests, Biswin Sadi was found on AH Wheeler stalls at railway stations across the country. It didn't have religious overdose either and was in a true sense a social magazine.

The owner-editor Rahman Nayar is now quite old. But a magazine of such great history that was published for over seven decades, shouldn't be closed because of the mere reason that one of his kins, whom he trusted, ditched him financially. It must be revived. Otherwise it will be a big blow. A void that can never be filled.
[*I am not sure whether Delhi/Haryana/Himachal Pradesh-based Mastana Jogi and Nirala Jogi are still published. ]