The Musalman is the oldest Urdu-language daily newspaper published from Chennai in India. It is an evening paper with four pages, all of which are handwritten by calligraphers, before being mass-produced with a printing press. According to Wired and The Times of India, The Musalman is possibly the only surviving handwritten newspaper in the world.
The newspaper was founded by Syed Azmathullah in 1927. It was inaugurated by Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, the president of the Madras session of the Indian National Congress. The newspaper's office has been located at the Triplicane High Road in Chennai.
After Syed Azmathullah's death, the newspaper was edited by his son Syed Fazlullah, who died on 26 April 2008, at the age of 78. In 2007, Fazullah had expressed fear that the calligraphy might die with him, since his sons were not interested in carrying on the calligraphy tradition.
Syed Fazlullah's son Syed Arifullah is the chief editor as of April 2018.
The calligraphers, known as katibs, work in a little corner of an 800 ft. one-room office. They don't have many facilities — only two wall fans, three bulbs and a tube light. As of 2008, the calligraphy team consists of one man and two women, who work almost three hours on each page of the hand-written newspaper. The hand-written product is processed onto a photo negative and mass-produced with a printing press.
As of 2007, Rahman Husseini is the chief katib (copywriter) of the paper. He joined the newspaper as an accountant, and took over as the katib, when the then chief katib died in 1980. In 2007, Rahman Husseni earned Rs. 2,500 a month, while the other katibs Shabana and Khurshid earned Rs. 60 a day per page.
The chief reporter is Chinnaswamy Balasubramaniam, who has been with the newspaper for past 20 years. The newspaper has correspondents all over India, including New Delhi, Kolkata, and Hyderabad.
The newspaper's office often hosts renowned poets, religious leaders and royalty, some of whom contribute to the pages.
The newspaper consists of four pages. The front page is for national and international news, the second and the third pages are for local news, and the fourth page is for sports. Some space is left blank at the bottom right corner of the front page, in case there is some breaking news.
- Kamini Mathai (30 April 2008). "Each page of this Urdu newspaper is handwritten by 'katibs'". The Times of India. Retrieved 30 April 2008.
- Scott Carney (7 June 2007). "A Handwritten Daily Paper in India Faces the Digital Future". Wired. Retrieved 17 October 2015. (Also on ABC News)
- Scott Carney (7 June 2007). "India's News Calligraphers Do It on Deadline". Wired. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
- Suganthy Krishnamachari (2 November 2007). "Newspaper nurtures art". The Hindu. Retrieved 30 April 2008.
- Image 7 of 22. India's News Calligraphers Do It on Deadline. Wired.
- Krishna, Navmi (14 April 2018). "The world's only handwritten newspaper is 91 and sells at 75 paise". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
- The Musalman - Preservation of a Dream, YouTube
- News at pen: The painstaking tradition of world's last hand-written newspaper, Daily Mail Online
- The Last Calligraphers, A film by Premjit Ramachandran
- Photos by Scott Carney, Wired News.