Hyderabad: Think of Nawab Mukarram Jah Bahadur and it is the picture of a stiff, dour-faced prince, who wouldn’t take no for an answer, which comes to mind. But those who know him vouch that he has a funny side too. He loves indulging in fun and also feels elated when somebody cracks jokes at his expense.
Jah used to get his hair trimmed by a barber, Raja Ram, every month at Chiran Palace. Once, after getting done with his haircut, he told his factotum to pay the barber Rs. 25,000! When the assistant raised his eyebrows in surprise, Jah said he had given his word to Raja Ram.
“While shaving the barber paused with the razor on my jugular vein and expressed his need for Rs. 25,000. I readily agreed as at that moment I couldn’t have done anything else,” Jah said, breaking into uncontrolled laughter.
Now, one can read scores of such little-known incidents about Mukarram Jah, grandson of the last Asaf Jahi ruler, Mir Osman Ali Khan. Shahid Husain Zuberi in his book ‘Awraq-e-Maazi’ lifts the veil of mystery surrounding the titular Nizam of Hyderabad. Zuberi, who worked with Jah for 20 years, brings out the personality of Jah, warts and all.
“I have not tried to portray Jah as a successful or unsuccessful person. With all sincerity I have attempted to present him with his plus and minus points,” says Zuberi.
The 320-page book in Urdu recounts in detail Jah’s relations with other rulers, the Nehru family, his wives, children and the way he behaves with his staff and visitors. Zuberi also lists the many misunderstandings and allegations concerning the prince. The book, coming close on the heels of the silver jubilee of Jah’s coronation and Osmania University Centenary celebrations, assumes importance.
What people generally know about Mukarram Jah is on the basis of hearsay. For the first time, perhaps, one gets an authentic account of the prince from Zuberi who worked with him for two decades in different capacities – as GPA, chairman, Nizam Private Estate and chairman, HEH Nizam Wakf Committee. “He was my hero and he is my hero,” says Zuberi about the prince.
The biggest problem, Zuberi says, is people’s comparison of Jah with his grandfather. The latter was a king and he did not have to pay any estate duty, wealth tax, income tax or municipal tax. But after his demise, Jah ended up with many liabilities and was asked to pay several taxes for properties he inherited. “Jah and the Nizam’s Private Estate is caught in the mire of taxes,” says Zuberi and blames the prince for blindly trusting his staff who took him for a ride.
But despite all this the prince succeeded in setting up Princess Durreshehwar and Prince Asra hospitals apart from the Mukkaram Jah Trust for Education and Learning. This proved an inspiration for many schools to come up in the old city.
How Awraq-e-Maazi came to be published itself is a story. Zuberi almost lost the script and gave up hopes of writing it all over again. But luckily, he found it and now the book is due for release on Saturday by Prof. Faizan Mustafa, Vice Chancellor, NALSAR University of Law, at Salar Jung Museum auditorium.