Back to the Future - Iqbal Patni

As a youngster, Iqbal Patni took up the responsibility of his family’s logistics business. Transforming it from a family enterprise into a full-fledged, integrated logistics company was a journey “filled with fascination, joy, and learning,” he shares. Today, the company is engaged in the business of intercity cargo movements with about 200 locations in the country, and also operates dry ports in India and abroad.

And Iqbal’s flair doesn’t end with his business acumen. He writes inspiring poems, sings wonderfully and, in line with our cars issue, he collects alluring vintage cars. In a freewheeling chat about his collection, he shares some interesting stories with us!

When did your fascination for collecting vintage cars begin?
From an early age, I was intrigued by antiques, old monuments, and history. My travels around the world as a child opened my young eyes to different cultures, and introduced me to people from all walks of life. Over the years, I have interacted with great artists and collectors, and have seen their vast collections. These precious experiences of my youth have stayed with me throughout my life; the curious child within moved me to start my own collection of antique cars and objects.

Tell us then about your vintage cars and how you’ve acquired them.
My collection has grown over time. As of today, the two crown jewels of my collection are the 1930 Ford Super Roadster Convertible and the 1938 Plymouth Chrysler. I acquired the Plymouth Chrysler from a famous Auto Tuner from Hyderabad, Mr Jal Jahgir. It was his family car. A fascinating fact about it is that it was the set of wheels preferred by the notorious gangster Al Capone.

I still remember that when I first laid eyes on the Ford in the village of Patherwada, Maharashtra, a huge tree had coiled its roots around the car in an intricate way; the car was blossoming right in the middle of it. Sometimes I wish I had a photo to show people this fascinating visual when I tell them this story.  I was enamoured yet angry at the scene before me. I knew that for the car to survive, the tree had to untangle its hold. It was quite a journey to restore the Ford. With many ups and downs along the way, it is now completely restored and is definitely one of my favourites.

Is maintenance of these cars a challenge for you?
As a rally enthusiast in the early 1980s, I learnt my way around these cars. By participating in various rallies held all over India, I acquired adequate knowledge about the cars’ workings and their basic mechanics. Though it is a challenge to keep up with the maintenance of these cars, it is one I embrace. Parts are now freely available online from the US and Europe.

What do you like most about vintage cars?
What captivates me most is their simplicity. The mechanisms are straight-forward. When you lay eyes on these vehicles, the striking feature is that you can see the passion of the maker reflecting through their beauty. They are called classics for a reason!

Tell us about your journey in the world of poetry.
Poetry is the elixir of mind. It lifts the mundane to the sublime; it gives substance to imagination, wings to hope, and power to create and transform the world. Humanity has been substantially inspired and influenced by the power of poetry. Poetry, or any other form of talent, is a divine gift to mankind bestowed upon him to express the beauty of creation.

The journey began in my early life and is continuing even today. I am very fortunate that I have developed my own style of presentation poetry called tasveer ki aawaz – the voice of images, which is a fusion of poetry with different art forms like art, dance, and fashion. It involves the mellifluous voice of poetry and the rich imagery from paintings. Woven of diverse emotions – ecstasy, obsession, nostalgia, love, reverence, finite and the infinite are all portrayed in the form of ‘Nazams’ (simple poems) which are written in simple Hindustani language. The blend created by images and words becomes a recipe for finer sensibilities.

Fusion of poetry and art: I am very fortunate and honoured that prestigious institutes like the Prince Of Wales Museum, Salar Jung Museum, NCPA, and art festivals like Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, SAARC Summit, art galleries such as Tao, Daira, and leading artists like S.H. Raza, Manu Parekh, Laxma Goud, T. Vaikuntam have used my concept in showcasing their collections.
Fusion of poetry and fashion: Showcased collection at the Lakme India Fashion Week for Gaurang Shah, at Mumbai, Hamstech Calantha for designers Vinusha Sammeta and Yashashree Gundala, and also for Satya Paul, Wendell Rodricks, Manish Malhotra, and others at the Fabled Peacock.

Fusion of poetry and Sufi Khatak: Various shows with the internationally-acclaimed Sufi Khatak exponent Manjari Chaturvedi in different cities of India.

Poetry and lyrics: Composed lyrics for Oscar-winner A.R. Rahman for his films Boys and Shivaji, Anaida for her album Nayaa, Mani Shankar’s film Mukhbiir, and ghazal singers like Talat Aziz and Mala Bararia.

When and how did you develop passion for poetry? Who are some of your biggest influences?
My passion for writing began at a very young age, but this craft was refined and nurtured when I got acquainted with Mr Ruhi Quadri, a renowned poet of Hyderabad. He taught me the parameters of writing poetry, which led my poetry to have force and direction. Appreciation from renowned artists like A.R. Rahman, Talat Aziz, Hariharan, Anaida, etc. boosted my morale and confidence. The Urdu language that I got familiarised with from the works of great Urdu writers like Ghalib, Momin Khan Momin, Sahir Ludhianvi, Shakeel Badayuni has also been foreign to me, as I don’t know how to read or write it. My writing is Hindustani, the language of the people. However, these great Urdu writers, along with many Bollywood writers in the form of ghazals and songs have been my influences. I have listened to their works rather than reading them.      - as told to Sumana