Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Famous Bangalore-based Urdu weekly newspaper Nasheman stops publication after 52 years, can it be revived?


Famous Urdu weekly newspaper Nasheman stopped publication recently. It was a sad news for Urdu readers, who were addicted to this Bangalore-based tabloid.

Under the late Usman Asad, Nasheman, had once become the largest-selling weekly Urdu newspaper in India. What I loved about this newspaper was its satire and its irreverential  [no excessive respect] language towards the leaders [and politicians].

The newspaper didn't care about personalities and used harsh words for leaders without caring about their power and position. When a leader failed to deliver, the paper simply tore him apart, with its harsh words and mocking tone.

Columns like 'ThapDakhain', that had brief satirical lines on current events, was read with great interest. The masthead of Nasheman, along with founder and current editor's names, carried the Urdu couplet:

Nasheman par nasheman is qadar taamir kartaa jaa
Ki bijli girte girte aap khud bezaar ho jaaye

Barely a month ago, I was passing by a walled City locality, when I saw a group of persons sitting under a electricity pole close to a tea shop. One of them was reading Nasheman aloud, and all others were listening to him.

There was a mosque where I often found people sitting on the bench, reading this paper. I first started reading this paper in the late eighties. In those days, Zamzam, was the other weekly that came from Bangalore.

Those were the days when Meem Afzals' Akhbar-e-Nau, Masoom Muradabadi's Khabardar, International Jareeda Times and Blitz (Urdu) were the main weekly papers. Most of them changed layouts but for 52 years of its existence, Nasheman remained the same newspaper--black and white.

Much later, it introduced the blue colour in the background for headlines. It was accused of sensationalism at times. Tabloids are sensational generally. But it had unique style of presenting news, interesting columns and above all the editorial.

                                                                         PHOTO (C) ANINDIANMUSLIM.COM
After Usman Asad's demise, his wife continued running the paper.

Had she brought an internet edition, its reach would have increased further.

I gather that she didn't want to make changes to the newspaper, and wanted to keep her just like it was during her husband's times.

Sadly, it had to be closed. Not because of lack of money but due to other reasons as told by Asad sahab's son Rizwan Asad HERE.

Wouldn't it have been better had the family given a thought to bring the paper on internet also. Perhaps, then they might have realised its reach.

Experiment of English newspaper, Under-estimating strength of Urdu press

One of the family members had brought out an English newspaper briefly. I hear that Asad sahab's son intends to bring out Nasheman again.

I hope he would bring out the Urdu paper on similar lines but in accordance with modern needs and with wider coverage [not just restricted to politics].

Urdu-wallas often under-estimate the power of Urdu press. They don't realise that starting and running an English newspaper is not easy, as this is a crowded market, where even pumping hundreds of millions won't yield result.

A new English daily doesn't sell easily because of established players. Even Reliance and other major groups that wanted to run national dailies had to shelve their plans. The benefit with running an Urdu paper is that even politicians give importance because they feel that their message would directly reach a large segment viz. the Muslims.

Even advertisements aren't difficult to get. Unfortunately, lack of confidence and poor marketing skills are the sole reason if any of the owners of existing Urdu papers aren't able to make good profit. Success of Roznama Sahara or even the political clout enjoyed by K Narendra [owner of Delhi-based Urdu newspaper Pratap] are just a few examples.

Will Rizwan Asad revive the newspaper? 

There is definitely a void after Nasheman's closure. In the weekly newspaper segment, few papers like 'Nai Dunia, 'Chauthi Duniya'  and 'Al-Jamiat' survive. The newspaper was a habit for thousands of readers across the country. Despite claims, papers that are once closed, rarely get back to print.

Though magazines like Biswin Sadi, have been revived, they have lost their original sheen. Let's hope he is able to launch the newspaper again and take forward the legacy of his father, who had established a mass circulated Urdu paper in South India.

UPDATE: December 2013. Nasheman will be relaunched again.