The Musalman


The Musalman is the last surviving daily hand written urdu newspaper run from Chennai.

At 324 Triplicane High Road in Chennai, the staff of the Urdu language evening paper The Musalman literally write the headlines every day.

It takes three hours for the three katibs – specialist calligraphers and reporters – to pen a page, before it is turned into a negative, printed, folded and sold to its 21,000 subscribers.  Late-breaking news stories previously meant that whole pages needed to be re-written, but a blank panel in the corner of the front page now caters for that event. Mistakes on the other hand, can lead to a whole page being scrapped and rewritten. The tradition of calligraphy in India dates back to the days when entire Koran’s were hand-written and up until the 1980s all Urdu newspapers were made that way.

But once digital printing technology became readily available the newspapers all succumbed, understandably, to the march of progress. Not the Musalman, though. It’s adherence to tradition is viewed now as a matter of life and death for its editor Syed Arifullah, who took over control after the death of his father.

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