Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Honour of Working with Sadequain - the legendary Muralist and Calligrapher

In one of my earlier posts on legendary artist, calligrapher and muralist Sadequain, I mentioned how one of my elder brothers Zaffar Hameed Bhatti got to know Sadequain and how a professional relationship between the two developed that lasted till the death of Sadequain.

Just to recap the first meeting between my brother Zaffar and Sadequain, this is how it happened. In early 70s, Sadequain was working in the Lahore Museum and Jinnag Garden on a number of life size murals for the Lahore Museum. As it happened one day that my brother who was then studying in the Government College was standing on the bus stop opposite Lahore Museum, when he spotting Sadequain strolling on the footpath and taking a dose of the fresh air after working for long hours inside the museum.

Seeing a golden opportunity, my brother rushed to the nearby paper market, bought an autograph book and a pen and rushed to Sadequain for an autograph. And from the a long association started between the two and my brother would spend endless hours with Sadequain and helping him finish his many paintings and calligraphies.
The initial days of association
Later my brother got a job in the Pakistan Ordnance Factories and moved to Wah. But the communication between him and Sadequain never broke. In those days, Sadequain was busy in his new project for murals for Pakistan Sports Complex, Islamabad and needed my brother to finish his huge work. For this, he requested the chairman POF to spare my brother for a month to help him in his project. The chairman duly obliged Sadequain and sent my brother to Lahore. In those days Sadequain had his abode in the Jinnah Gardens' Montgomery Hall.
Here the two worked day and night to complete the project. Here it may be mentioned that the help provided to Sadequain was purely voluntary and no monetary gains expected. The mere working with a legendary artist was more than any worldly gains.

One day while brother was standing on a raised pedestal working on a huge mural, his head hit the fans overhead. Sadequain who had just happened to saw the incident, immediately called my brother down and asked the administration to remove the blades of all fans lest a fatal incident may occur. Thereafter, my brother worked on the murals without any threat from overhead fans (as can be seen in the photo above).

Sadequain was down to earth a simple soul, that is why he always called him Faqir Sadequain, the humble Sadequain. Devoid of any pride and lust for appreciation, he would sit on floor and even entertained no matter who was visiting him on the same floor next to him. And there was no sumptuous hospitality except for a few biscuits and a cup of tea.
On my brother's request Sadequain also visited Wah, something very unusual as he never went out to a outstation place on someone's personal request. But for my brother, the relation of a mentor and  student was very dear to Sadequain and he willingly consented to accompany my brother to Wah. There a special evening was celebrated at the Officers Club and he dished out his hand written sketches and calligraphies to those present. Luckily, I was also there on that day on weekend from the Pakistan Military Academy where I was undergoing training as a cadet.
After the removal of fan blades, my brother could freely work while standing on high tables
 Tea time between work 
The one month leave soon expired but the work had not and my brother had to stay a few more days. In order to compensate him for the over stayed leave, Sadequain wrote a handwritten letter, something he seldom did, to the chairman POF, apologizing my brother over one month and appreciating his efforts in completion of his project. The letter in itself is a tribute by a great artist to my brother's hard work - something that is cherished by all of us a great treasure of all times.

There is yet a memorable gesture that Sadequain made for my brother. This is how Zaffar Hameed Bhatti explains it:
In 1974, I was working on his 'calligraphic painting project' for the Middle-east Traveling Exhibitions, he named it as the "Air Mail Edition", that included, "Asma-e-Hasana", 40-piece "Surah Rahman", 280 feet long "Surah Yaseen", and more. 

During that period,we celebrated Sadequain's 44th birthday on June 30,1974, and he very much liked the birthday card I made for him ... three days later, it was my birthday on July 3,1974, and besides a "Limited Edition Tea Party", Sadequain wished me as can be seen in the photo above.

If you like Jaho Jalal, please follow us on Facebook