(Last Updated on : 24/04/2012)
Imtiaz AH Taj was a scholar in Urdu language
. He was also popular as a playwright, and Urdu theatre
activist. His father, Syed Mumtaz Ali, was a distinguished social reformer and writer. His mother also had several books to her credit. In 1918, Taj started an influential literary monthly named as Kahkashan. He was drawn to theatre from his student days at Government College, Lahore, and participated in the college drama society. He graduated in 1922 and joined the family publishing house. Imtiaz AH Taj, the eminent Urdu theatre personality also edited their periodicals Tehzib-e-niswan on women`s education and Phul, for children. His most famous play, Anarkali in 1923 was considered a modern classic. This is also a prescribed text in Indian and Pakistani universities. Its strength lies in its gripping storyline about emperor Akbar and his son`s forbidden love, its idiomatic dialogue, convincing characterization, and skilful handling of psychological and social conflicts. In it, Hashr saw promise of a new era in Urdu drama.
Anarkali was different from the Urdu theatre and also popularized by Parsi companies. It was realistic in style and its prose. This was free from the artificial embellishments that characterized the dominant tradition of Urdu playwriting. However, Anarkali fails the test of stage worthiness. Although an ardent theatre enthusiast, Taj had little understanding of practical requirements. His play is too wordy and almost eight hours long. Because of this reason no regular group has produced it. However, it was made into a silent movie, The Loves of a Mughal Prince in 1928. In this movie Taj himself acted as Akbar.
An important contribution of Taj was the promotion of radio drama during his association with All India Radio and, later, Radio Pakistan. He also collected and published several volumes of early Urdu drama, with detailed notes and well-researched prefaces by him. Imtiaz AH Taj also translated Shakespeare and Shaw and scripted the screenplay of Moti Gidwani`s murder mystery Zamindar in 1942. Imtiaz AH Taj, the well-known Urdu theatre personality wrote scores of books for children. Honoured by the government of Pakistan with an award, he died tragically in a murderous attack by unidentified assailants in 1970.