I had the privilege of compering the birth anniversary celebrations of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Founder of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) by the All India Cultural Association (AICA) last week at the Indian Embassy auditorium. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, born on 17 October 1817, is recognized as one of the architects of modern India. He is counted among the greatest thinkers, philosophers and revolutionaries of his time and the history of social and education reforms in the Indian subcontinent would not be complete with a mention of his name.
2016 marks the beginning of the 200th year of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s birth which is being celebrated all over the world by the Indian community and especially by the AMU alumni with fond enthusiasm just as it was in Kuwait by AICA.
Founded in 2010, the All India Cultural Association is a Kuwait based non-profit organization that strives to promote India’s vast and diverse culture. Registered with the Embassy of India in Kuwait, AICA has made a name for itself by presenting quality literary programs, conducting several successful mushairas (poetry recitals), ghazal concerts and other cultural events.
AICA’s aim is to become a platform, voice and medium for communications for Indian’s from all walks of life.
AICA’s recent event began with Quran recitation by Nadeem Ahmed followed by the lighting of a lamp and speeches by Shubashis Goldar, Deputy Chief of Mission and Chief Public Information Officer from the Indian Embassy in Kuwait, and the AICA President, Sanjay Kumar Saxena.
Senior Indian embassy officials, K.K. Pahel, First Secretary, A.K. Shrivastava, Second Secretary and other prominent Indians such as Samina Malik, Aijaz Baig, Dr. Umair Baig, Aijaz Ahmad Sarfaraz, etc. were also present at the event.
After an inspiring introduction about Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and AMU by corporate lawyer and AMU alumnus Kashif Syed, tokens of appreciation were presented to some of the key supporters of the evening by prominent AMU alumni Madhuri Jha, Usman Qadir, Kareem Irfan, Dr. Anis Ahmad, Mohammad Zia Uddin and Nisar Khan along with AICA members Mohd. Amir and Mohd. Ikram
The evening comprised of a thought provoking play “Letter to Gandhi” performed very professionally by Syed Mujeeb Akhtar, Ahmed Sartaj and Maria Limdi. Guest of honor of the event, well know Radio Mirchi Murga fame RJ Naved Khan, entertained the audience with a funny, emotional and touching presentation. Renowned theatre artist and Bollywood actor Major Mohammad Ali Shah, captivated the audience with an hour of monologues in English, Hindi and Sanskrit.
This was followed by the Aligarh Muslim University anthem sung by a group of alumni and their children. The evening ended with a vote of thanks by Usama Faruki, Vice President of AICA in which he thanked the audience, AICA members and the supporters of the event.
Five minutes with…
RJ Naved Khan
A person that is just as interesting in person as he is in his RJ role, Naved Khan is a master of mimicry. While many people are recognized because of their voice, RJ Naved is famous for changing his voice.
His show 'Mirchi Murga' on Radio Mirchi gained international name and fame through social media channels and his funny anecdotes and pranks offer a comic relief over the radio.
His show has won several awards including - the Best Radio Sparkler at the Excellence in Radio Awards for three consecutive years. He has also received the “Golden Mike RJ of the Year” and “Indian Icon Award” along with a “National Television Award” for his funny political satire show called 2G.
While RJ Naved has made audiences laugh with his murga tactics, he has also used his baritone voice to touch on human emotions and raise issues about patriotism, culture and tradition that need to be addressed in today’s society.
Meeting him was a treat and his warmth and kindness was very apparent in his interactions with each and every person that he spoke to or kept pulling him away for a photo or a chat.
Mohammed Ali Shah
Popularly known as ‘Major’ Mohammed Ali Shah, the title ‘Major’ stuck with him from his time with the Indian Army. Starting as a young Lieutenant, Ali Shah worked up the ranks to become captain and eventually Major – posted with the Assam Rifles. His brush with television included leading the Assam Rifles marching contingent at Rajpath past the President of India at the Republic Day parade and being a commentator for Doordarshan at the 4th CISM Military World games held in Mumbai in 2007.
Today, Ali Shah is an acclaimed theatre artist and film actor. He has a variety of theatre productions and Bollywood movies such as Agent Vinod, Haider, Great Indian Tamasha, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, etc. The Ruffian an English movie he acted in was dubbed into Hindi and Malyalam. This movie won Ali Shah numerous best actor awards at the Delhi International Film Festival and Filmsaaz at Aligarh Muslim University. He was chosen as best actor by Jury and Critics in Kerala for the Jaihind TV channel awards and also received a Critics award in Australia.
He recently completed shooting for the National award winning director Tighmanshu Dhulia’s latest film, Yaara.
When quizzed about why he left the army, he is quick to clarify he was interested in acting from early on in life and only joined the Short Service Commission. He has an MBA from IIM Calcutta and has also had a tryst with the corporate world.
Shah is also a social activist. Son of Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah, Former Deputy Chief of The Army Staff, former member Armed Forces Tribunal and currently the Vice Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University, he is also the nephew of legendary actor Naseeruddin Shah.
Tall and handsome, “Major” Saheb was indeed a treat to watch in his special performance of the “Major” actor’s assorted monologues.
By Nita Bhatkar Chogle
Special to The Times