Where Tom and Jerry speak Urdu

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Updated 28 November 2012
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Where Tom and Jerry speak Urdu

A passion for the Subcontinent’s cherished Urdu language and a love of comics resulted in Urdu Kidz Cartoon, a first of its kind website featuring Urdu comics for children. Riyadh-based civil engineer Syed Mukarram Niyaz founded the website that presents famous comics, such as Archie, Phantom, Tom and Jerry, Dennis the Menace, Garfield and Bugs Bunny — all translated into Urdu by his wife, son, relatives and friends.
“Urdu is a refined language, unlike the language used in Hindi movies/serials. I want to regenerate the original Urdu culture among our new generation,” said Niyaz.
He hails from Hyderabad, India, which has the second largest community of nearly 150-200 million Urdu speakers, after Pakistan.
Niyaz grew up reading comic books in English, Hindi and Urdu in Hyderabad and knows that comics are a great way to initiate a child into the habit of reading.
What Niyaz has done apart from providing a fun Urdu reading platform for children is that he has revived the spirit of old Urdu magazines. He talks of a foregone era as he recalls the 1970s and 1980s when India had many children’s magazines and comic books in Urdu, such as, Khilauna, Phool, Kalyaan, Payam-e-Taaleem and Noor, which published cartoons and comics.
Niyaz feels that many newspapers published in Urdu in his country neglect children by not publishing a single cartoon for kids.
As he found out, translating the comic strips to a much refined and traditional language, while keeping the humor alive is no mean task.
“While translating comic strips I always have to alter a lot according to traditional Urdu tahzeeb (culture). I prefer to avoid slangs such as buddhu, kaminey and gadhey. Instead, I use words like Kambakht, Ahmaq, Khabees and Na-hinjaar etc,” he said.
The 43-year-old father of five looks to his children to help him choose material for the site. His wife, a teacher, helps him select the exact Urdu phrases based on a child’s understanding.
Also in the cards is the introduction of new characters on the website such as Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Flash Gordon, Mickey Mouse, and Laurel and Hardy, in addition to classics such as Cinderella, Puss in Boots, and Hansel and Gretel.
Niyaz said the website makes a special effort not to publish stories that promote hatred toward any culture, religion, language, caste, creed and specific religious stories that have contradictory points with respect to basic Islamic principles.
Niyaz’s website also introduces the use of Urdu fonts, a feature not common in most ‘Urdu’ websites, which are mostly image-based, where searching even a single word in the whole content is impossible. It is created by his venture Taemeer Web Development that specializes in the creation of Urdu unicode-based websites.
Launched in February 2012, the website currently features nearly 150 translated stories and 20 comic characters. The response, though, is still less than desirable. Niyaz says it is such because of a lack of marketing.
“There are nearly 5,000 visitors per month; I hope it increases to 5,000 visitors per day,” an optimistic Niyaz said.
The website gets the most number of hits from Pakistan, followed by the US and the UK. The Gulf countries, such as, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, follow next, with India in the fifth position.

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Pakistani tailor adds former US president to star-studded list of clients

Updated 15 February 2019
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Pakistani tailor adds former US president to star-studded list of clients

  • The 36-year-old outfitter has built a customer list of famous names from the sporting, show business and political worlds
  • His family enterprise was established more than 100 years ago and operated from large shop premises in Kolkata, India

KARACHI: It is probably safe to say that tailor to the stars Sarfraz Akbar has the market for celebrity clients all sewn up.

The 36-year-old outfitter has built a customer list of famous names from the sporting, show business and political worlds through his reputation for making high-quality garments.

And now Akbar, who works for his family business at shops in an affluent neighborhood of Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, can add a former American president to his star-studded client base.

During a trip to the US in July last year, he was invited by an American-Pakistani friend to meet with George W. Bush.

“I was super-excited when along with my wife and daughters we boarded my friend’s private jet and flew from Houston to Dallas,” Akbar told Arab News.

After taking measurements of the former US president, he returned to Pakistan and made several suits for him, before dispatching them to Dallas in December 2018.

“My happiness doubled when I got a call from the US informing me that the former president had appreciated my work after wearing the suits,” Akbar said.

Akbar’s father Mohammed said his son had built up a distinguished list of Pakistani personalities he has worked for. 

“By earning praise from George W. Bush, my son has not only made me proud but it’s also a matter of pride for all Pakistanis.”

The youngest of three brothers, Akbar has brought fame to the family name and business, his father added.

The family enterprise was established more than 100 years ago and operated from large shop premises in Kolkata. The family moved from the Indian city after the inception of Pakistan.

The business now has two shops under the “Ambassador” brand name in the Zamzama district of Karachi. 

“We could have opened dozens of outlets, but we believe in quality. The materials we use are imported and we focus on precision,” said Akbar. 

“It’s handmade, customized work. We don’t sell readymade stuff.

“However, we’re now getting people coming to us from other cities wanting to have their wardrobes from the tailor of George W. Bush. Some clients even ask to have their photos taken with me.”

Akbar said he has always had big ambitions. Following matriculation in 1999, he continued his studies but opted at the same time to focus on the family business with a view to taking it to new heights after his graduation.

When the Indian cricket team toured Pakistan during 2005-2006, Akbar made clothes for all the Indian players. 

“Almost all the Pakistani players including Wasim Akram, Misbah-ul-Haq, Sarfraz Ahmed and Shahid Afridi — the latter being a regular customer – have worn our wardrobes too,” Akbar said.

He also designed kurta shalwar clothing for West Indian player and Peshawar Zalmi skipper, Darren Sammy, during the last season of the Pakistan Super League.

Akbar also has a long list of political clients including Pakistan’s former leader Pervez Musharraf, incumbent President Dr. Arif Alvi, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Sindh Gov. Imran Ismail. “I made a waistcoat for Imran Khan after he was sworn in as the premier of Pakistan,” he said.

Summing up his achievements to date, Akbar said: “You can be proud of yourself and your family, but you just need to focus on your work and work hard.”