Book Reviews Reviews

From Alif to Noon

Written by Omair Alavi


When the history of humor and satire in Pakistan will be written, Kamal Ahmed Rizvi’s Alif Aur Noon will always make the list.

The extremely popular TV show that began in the mid-sixties and was revived in the early eighties brought together an odd couple: Allan (Kamal Ahmed Rizvi) who was always trying to make a quick buck and Nanna (Rafi Khawar) who was always making efforts to reason with him to no avail.

In this collection of 46 episodes from the series, you learn a lot about the two characters, who represented the two sides of our society.

In this book, Alif and Noon’s (Allan and Nanna) adventures are presented in dramatic fashion, and could help upcoming writers improve their scriptwriting and screenplay. After going through most of the episodes presented in the book, as a reader you will get to know Allan and Nanna. The former is a fraud and when confronted he claims to be a small fish in the big pond while the latter, an idiot with a heart of gold, always looks for the best in people even if he loses in the end.

It’s been over 35 years since the series ended but these two characters still seem relevant and the credit goes to the writer of the script.

From establishing an antique shop full of useless stuff to a bakery where everything is rotten and from running a beauty parlor to a gymnasium, Allan and Nanna try their hand at everything. Their interaction with customers and with each other make some of the most memorable moments for those of us who watched the TV show.

With this book, you can go through episodes of your interest and enjoy it as a piece of literature. The collection also comes with a two-disk DVD, comprising the best episodes of the serial, which means it’s a double treat for fans.

Kamal Ahmed Rizvi’s Alif Aur Noon is not just limited to the episodes as the book also spends time revealing the show’s origin story that had nothing to do with Allan and Nanna, at least initially.

According to Agha Nasir of PTV, who was the show’s first producer and also penned the preface, it was Aslam Azhar and his team who suggested the title, Alif Noon (initials of Agha and Nasir’s first names) for their untitled program. Kamal Ahmed Rizvi then came up with the idea of the tall Alif and the bulky Noon, and the rest is history.

Like America has Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Pakistan has Alif and Noon and this collection of Tamseelchay (skits) can help you understand the way their minds worked. They were neither pious nor bad but were victims of the environment they grew up in.

With Shehzad Roy and Faisal Qureshi set to bring the classic TV serial to the big screen, we hope that they manage to do justice to the legacy of Kamal Ahmed Rizvi and Rafi Khawar, who may not be with us anymore but have been immortalized by their iconic characters.

About the author

Omair Alavi

Omair Alavi is a highly regarded journalist, critic, and commentator, specializing in news, sports, showbiz, film, blogs, articles, drama, reviews, and PTV drama. With extensive experience and a keen eye for storytelling, he captivates audiences with his insightful analysis and compelling presentations. His expertise and contributions have made him a prominent figure in the media and entertainment industry.