‘Ameer Nishan’ as it really was

Parbina Rashid

It was not Anubhav Sinha’s appeal to everyone (Pakistanis included) to watch Mulk legally or illegally (it is banned in Pakistan) that made me visit my nearest cinema hall when it opened this Friday. Nor was it for the apprehensions expressed by certain columnists that the film raises uncomfortable questions, especially at a time when the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Bill (2016) are hot topics.

For that matter, nor have I had enough of those ‘flattering’ comments like ‘she is not a typical Muslim’ whenever I find myself unwittingly being a part of a conversation that is derogatory towards Muslims. Or, because so often I have had to justify myself to people who can spot an ‘exceptional Muslim’ from the ‘typical lot’ from a distance — how being a Muslim I speak Assamese, and not Urdu.

Well, the reason that pulled me to the theatre was my newly acquired knowledge that Anubhav Sinha had studied at Aligarh Muslim University which is my alma mater too. So, as a fellow AMUite, I just wanted to see if the cultural sensibilities of AMU had crept into Sinha’s writing or direction. I was looking for subtle hints, but Sinha gave me a tell-tale sign — Ameer Nishan Lodge.

The name ‘Ameer Nishan’ was enough to take me down memory lane. It is the name of the market which I, as an undergrad student of Women’s College and resident of Abdullah Hall, found myself in every Friday and Sunday, the days we were allowed an outing. And sometimes even on a non-outing day, if I could hoodwink the security at the gate, pretending to be a day-scholar.

With shops for clothes, rickety eateries that offered the basics like aloo tikki and seekh kebab, and an upmarket Archies Gallery to cater to blossoming romances, Ameer Nishan was an oasis for an 18-year-old, providing succour to the parched soul.

Ameer Nishan was the Tinder of our time. It was the place where boy met girl as she sifted through beautiful patchwork dupattas in a store, or while driving a hard bargain with the friendly tailor. This would be followed with some good-natured sleuthing on the girl, finally sealing the deal with a love letter or a card! The Archies Gallery did a roaring business by providing expression to the expression-less.

Sinha’s Ameer Nishan, the shady lodge, is nowhere close to the Ameer Nishan that I know of. But he spoke for me completely when he presented his case on citizenship and prejudice as part of a courtroom drama, dissecting tropes about Muslims that they breed too much, don’t focus on education, train their children to be terrorists, etc.

He gave me a voice, and assurance; that Ameer Nishan of my memory would remain Ameer Nishan — it won’t turn into another Batla House.

Source Link: https://www.tribuneindia.com

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