Author Qazi Anwar Hussain, writer of spy thrillers and creator of Masud Rana, dies at 85

Author Qazi Anwar Hussain, writer of spy thrillers, detective fiction and adventure novels, and creator of beloved Bangladeshi espionage agent Masud Rana, has died at the age of 85.

Published : 19 Jan 2022, 12:05 PM
Updated : 19 Jan 2022, 06:25 PM

He died while undergoing treatment at BIRDEM General Hospital in Dhaka at 4:40pm on Wednesday, said his daughter-in-law Masuma Maimura.

Hussain was hospitalised several times after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer last October.

“It came to an end with a brain stroke and heart attack,” Maimura wrote in Facebook post. “He had been on life support since Jan 10. Now, he has left us for good.”

Hussain’s body will be stored at the hospital’s morturay on Wednesday and will be taken to his Segunbagicha home on Thursday morning, his cousin Qazi Rawnak Hussain told Later, he will be buried next to his mother at the Banani Graveyard after Asr prayers.

He was simultaneously a translator, publisher, screenwriter and singer. But Hussain was best known as the writer of Masud Rana novels.

Hussain is the son of Professor Qazi Motahar Hossain, a pre-eminent mathematician and chess player. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.

His wife Farida Yasmin, sister of famous singer Sabina Yasmin, had died before him.

Known as Qazida to his fans, Anwar Hussain made public appearance rarely. He had also given only a few interviews, which made him a “mystery man” to many.     

Born to Prof Motahar and Sajeda Khatun on Jul 19, 1936, Anwar Hussain passed matriculation exams from St Gregory’s High School and College. After graduation from Jagannath College, now Jagannath University, he completed MA in Bangla from Dhaka University.

After study, he practised music. His sisters Sanjida Khatun, Fahmida Khatun and Mahmuda Khatun were renowned singers of the time.

He worked as a regular artist at Dhaka Betar from 1958 to 1966. He also worked as a playback singer in movies.

He later established Segunbagan Press at their home in Dhaka and joined publishing business by launching Seba Prokashony, through which cheap paperback books became popular in Bangladesh.

Then came his creation Masud Rana, a Bangladeshi secret agent just like Ian Fleming’s James Bond of British intelligence service MI6.

But the fact that most of his books were based on foreign thrillers made many brand his works as “light” ones and kept those away from literary discussions.

Anwar Hussain, however, was not concerned about criticisms. “No matter what you call it – light or insignificant literature; I am surfing in the world of my love comfortably and happily,” he had once said.

A Masud Rana movie was released in 1974 and Anwar Hussain won the awards for best screenwriter and dialogue writer awards from Bangladesh Cine-Journalist Association. Another movie with Masud Rana as the protagonist is being made

But many of the Masud Rana novels were written by “ghost-writers”, or others and published under Anwar Hussain’s name.

One of them, Sheikh Abdul Hakim recently won the copyright of 260 Masud Rana books in a legal battle. Anwar Hussain, however, remained the creator of the character, the Copyright Office ruled.