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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Larger than Life Writer, Reformist, Intellectual IBNE SAFI

July 26, 2007 Thursday Rajab 10, 1428

KARACHI: Death anniversary of Imran Series creator passes unmarked

By Hasan Mansoor

KARACHI, July 25: Today is the 27th death anniversary of Urdu fiction writer Ibne Safi, whose novels still constitute a bedtime treat for thousands of people. Yet none of the city’s literary circles have thought it fit to organise a programme to commemorate the writer who brought us the well-loved Jasoosi Duniya and the Imran Series, and wrote hundreds of mystery novels.

Despite the criticism levelled at him – that he wrote in bulk and targeted the mass market – he is certainly amongst the more remarkable and most popular writers of Urdu-language fiction.

Safi was just 26 years old when, in 1954, newspaper headlines announced that “Ibne Safi leads a new cult” while reporting on the Golden Jubilee Number of the monthly Jasoosi Duniya, which featured sketches of the stock characters and sold in unprecedented numbers.

Launched in Allahabad, India in 1952, the monthly turned Safi into a household name and his novels are credited with having hooked a large section of the subcontinent’s population to detective and crime fiction. It was not unusual for Safi’s books to be sold at black market prices in Pakistan and India, where they were originally published.

Nearly three decades after his death, his cult following remains largely intact and many literary critics recognise his services to Urdu language and literature. As one critic said, “he is the saviour of the Urdu language, a masterful storyteller who never compromised on his principles.” Even Agatha Christie is reputed to have said, “I don’t know Urdu but have some knowledge of detective novels of the subcontinent. There is only one original writer – Ibne Safi.”

Born in the Nara village of Allahabad, UP in India, Safi – whose given name was Asrar Ahmad – received a BA degree from Agra University. He started writing in the 1940s while working as a secondary school teacher and continuing his studies part-time.

Safi created the Imran Series in 1952 when he migrated to Karachi, where he lived until pancreatic cancer caused his death in 1980 on July 26, on his 52nd birthday.

His main works are the 124-book Jasoosi Duniya and the 120-book Imran Series, with a small cannon of satirical works and poetry written under the nom de plume of Asrar Narvi. His writings are characterised by a blend of adventure, suspense, romance and comedy, even philosophy, such as the following line from Edlawa: “Life is only action and reaction. The rationalisations are added later.”

1 comment:

Rashid said...

Visit a non-commercial web site on ibne safi: