The ‘Musalman’ is probably the last handwritten newspaper in the world. It has been published and read every day in South India’s Chennai since 1927 in almost the same form. The newspaper was founded by Janab Syed Azmathullah Sahib in 1927. In the shadow of the Wallajah Mosque in Chennai, a team of six die hard workers still put out this hand-penned paper. Four of them are katibs — writers dedicated to the ancient art of Urdu calligraphy.
It is an evening paper with four pages, all of which are handwritten by calligraphers, before being mass-produced with a printing press. It has over 23,000 circulations per day. According to the Wired and The Times of India, The Musalman is possibly the only “handwritten” newspaper in the world. The fact is, at the office of ‘The Musalman’, no one has ever quit. They work till they pass on.
This four-page evening paper has managed to retain the old school look despite the availability of modern printing technology. It is to preserve the dream of the founder to ensure that the art of Urdu calligraphy does not die in the modern era of technology.
On May 12, 2011, the Ministry of External Affairs’ Public Diplomacy Division released on YouTube an 11-minute film on The Musalman, directed by Ishani K Dutta of Delhi-based Carrot Films.