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  • Neelam Antulay releases book of her father, AR Antulay’s letters to his wife

    Published on February 24, 2020

    by Sachin Murdeshwar

    Mumbai :  Maharashtra’s ex-Chief Minister Shri Abdul Rehman Antulay, was way beyond a mere politician. He started his political career as an MLA, he then went on to be a Minister in the Maharashtra Cabinet for several years and later on an MP of Rajya Sabha. After this, he took oath as Chief Minister of Maharashtra. He was then elected as an MP of the Lok Sabha four times and then a Minister in Union Cabinet for several years. But on February 22, 2020, his daughter Neelam Antulayrevealed the softest side to him that was previously unseen by the world. She unveiled a book, ‘BANAAM NARGIS, BAQALAM AR ANTULAY’, a collection of letters exchanged between Shri Antulay and his wife Nargis, through late 50s & early 60’s. Present at the ceremony were Maharashtra Chief Minister – Shri Uddhav Thackeray, MP, President of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – Shri Sharad Pawar and Leader of Opposition Rajya Sabha – Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad to pay their honours.

    Shri Antulay was a man of many passions. He held great interest in life’s many facets – poetry, music and literature. He studied Law at Lincoln’s Inn, London, from 1952 to 1955. He then came back to India and began working. He got engaged in the year 1957 and thus began the journey of these beautiful letters. He took to his pen and paper to write to his then-fiancé Nargis, about his observations, learnings and musings on life as he saw it from the sidelines. These handwritten letters are penned in gorgeous handwriting, written in Urdu and are a piece of literature themselves. Mrs. Nargis Antulay preserved all of them in their original form, with great care. It was only after Shri Antulay’s sad demise in 2014, that she shared them with her daughter Neelam, who thought that it would be a great tribute to her father if she could release them.

    Says Neelam Antulay, “To the world, my father donned many hats but to us, he was always a multi-faceted, loving family man. We learned from his benevolence and zest for life. When my mother gave me these letters, I was touched by how beautifully he could express his thoughts on paper. These letters are art, and revives the feeling of nostalgia of a time when writing to loved ones was such a warm routine. I realised that language was so important to making these letters accessible, so I transliterated them – not translated – thus retaining the beauty of his original Urdu words. I am so thankful to Hon. Chief Minister Shri Uddhav ji Balasaheb Thackeray, Shri Sharad Pawar ji and Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad ji for making the time to be with us today. We also extend our gratitude to Dr. Zahir I Kazi and the management of Anjuman-i-Islam to honour my father, their ex-student and former President for naming their law college as Barrister A.R. Antulay College of Law.  Special thanks to Javed Akhtar Sahab who not just took time to go through the book & pen some lines for the back cover; but also graced the occasion today. Our family shall remain ever grateful to all of them!”

    The naming ceremony of Anjum-i-Islam’s Law College as Barrister AR Antulay College of Law was done at the hands of Shri Uddhavji Balasaheb Thackeray.

    Shri Sharad Pawarji along with Shri Ghulam Nabi Azadji released the Book BANAAM NARGIS, BAQALAM AR ANTULAY. They spoke highly of the man who was respected across party lines and lead a full life with his family, including wife Nargis, daughters Shabnam, Neelam, Mubina and son Naved.  This Book is a collector’s item that chronicles the evolution of a man who rose to become a successful politician from a very humble beginning. The transliteration makes it an enhanced literary experience, bringing the weight and beauty of the Urdu language. With images of the original letters and some very rare photographs, the book truly brings alive a bygone era of simple times and great people. Banaam Nargis, Baqalam AR Antulay will be currently available at Strand Bookstore at Colaba in Mumbai.