BY MUSHTAQUE B BARQ
From the demesne of abstraction, responsiveness that brings down the curtains of deception on the stage to justify his objective as a character to address the masses. To translate the artifice of smokescreen into a performance is a fabulous art known to the artists of merit. In every society, artists of distinction have been playing a vivacious role in showcasing the script through their stand-in performances. Acting is a durable apparatus embedded with a proficiency that in complementation represents a section of people he is on for. One special character that every serious writer hunts for is a comedian. He acts both as a swap over when a protracted seriousness stays on the stage and his role as a ‘comic relief’ comes near-at-hand and on the other hand his façade, his apparel and parlance adds life to the scene that is aimed at fetching the objective of the director on the stage. A comedian is as obligatory as the protagonist for the intent that satire needs an acceptable ether to penetrate down the spine of a society on which it stands. To stage a satire the first and the foremost prerequisite of a director is a pertinent comedian to exhibit what words under the garb of creation want to convey, and what expressions the director wants to put to the glare of publicity through a character. One such comedian who has mesmerized everyone is our own late Bashir Ahmad Zargar popularly known in the film fraternity as Bashir Mansoor.
Born on 8th April 1947 in the downtown area of Aali Kadal Srinagar Kashmir, Bashir Mansoor’s life is full of excitement and adventure. A well-qualified person who was later introduced to acting and he took a bold decision to self-train himself as a comedian. He passed his matriculation from Islamia High School Srinagar in 1961. In 1963, he completed his graduation and joined The University of Kashmir for a post-graduation programme in Zoology. He has always seen entertaining people come what may. During his studies as a student, he would perform like Charlie Chaplin on sidelines and off stages. As he attracted the attention of the directors and producers, he was carried to the right platform where he explored his latent talent and projected his role in such a way that within no time he became the talk of the town. The song: Dewdarun Te Yarien Che Terie Kand Phatan was filmised on him in which he was seen in different attire and style. His acting well suited the song that turned the song one of the favourites during his later part of acting when he emerged as a serious actor and erased the tag line which was labeled. In another satirical musical song: Yete Khar Thouwukh Pujj Wanus Peith, Te Pujj Wane Saie peith Chu Gour, his performance touched newer heights for he justified the theme line of the song with his powerful expression and strong gestures. He moved ahead in performing in another famous satirical song: Tche Keho Govie Malal Waien Be Karie Zarpar Meyani Nalke Yaare where his typical comedian vindicated what was accepted of him as a comedian. His archetypal dance and body movements in this song were a luxury to watch. In another heart wrenching song: Adh gai dukan neerith badlav hal sadkan. Bashir Mansoor once again was the best choice to be projected in the song who was outstanding in carrying us along for he was on for a common man’s agony. He succeeded in carrying the collective sentiment of general gender on the screen with accuracy.
This thirty- year acting career has contributed a lot and the most favourite hits are: Totma, Sodhe Bodhe, Shabrang, Aab Seem Aab. In the 80s he was seen in Zalur Zall, Naazu, Arni Mal and Jang and in the 90s his performances in Janjaal, Cheri Truch, Dilbar Union and Meti Gotch Akh Chance were much praised and acknowledged by the audience. He was presented Shakir and Aslam Memorial Award by Jhelum Art Media for his outstanding role in promotion of art and culture in J&K.
Q:- Mr. Bashir Arif you have been around when late Bashir Mansoor was around, kindly share with us some memorable moments.
I had a great association with that stylish man of great virtues called Bashir Mansoor. We knew each other since 1967. He used to participate in Radio programmes and also sometimes join some stage play. He had an immense longing for performing art. This versatile artist became very dear to me with one unique incident. One day I heard that Bashir Mansoor had gone for Hajj pilgrimage which made me so emotional that I invited him for an interview to be broadcast from Radio Kashmir Srinagar in Ghar Bara Khaetra programme. He obliged and during the course of the interview, he made me cry. I remember when I asked him what inspired him to perform Hajj, he revealed that he was at my home and suddenly some neighbour switched on his Radio set. The song which hit his heart made him restless was Madeena Na Dekha Tou Kuchh Bhi Na Dekha. Mansoor said, “These words jolted my conscience and I there and then decided to perform Hajj.” As an artist, he created his own style. He was my co-actor in a TV series Matbal e Sukhan in 1973.This series was written by great writer Akhter Mohi-ud-din and produced by Mir Zaffar-ul-llah. He used to participate in zoon Dab feature of Radio Kashmir as-Salam Bhat e Salam occasionally. His contribution to performing art in Kashmir is unparalleled. His very presence in any serial or drama was deemed its success. Hailing from Bodhagair, middle town Srinagar, Mansoor was down to earth and God-fearing. Pious, honest and above all selfless. The irony of fate had something else in store for him that he fell down from the second floor of his new under-construction house at Nowhere Srinagar and could not survive. His death came as a big shock. With the passage of time, Bashir Mansoor still comes alive when you watch him in any of his performances available on social media/YouTube. God bless his soul.
Q:-Mr. Rajesh Kaul, you have been Ex-Director and Head of Dept. Media Centre and Bashir Mansoor was around then, kindly tell us something about him.
Bashir Mansoor was a superfine human being and a refined actor with a terrific sense of humor, comic timing and control over facial muscles and speech modulation. Perhaps he was aware of his remote resemblance to Sir Charlie Spencer Chaplin by way of physical structure, height and face cut. That may have inspired him to pick up Chaplin’s tramp walk, physical and facial acrobatics so well that local theatre groups would rope him in for a gag in between the curtain drops. That is how he started with gap items on stage in the early ’70s. In 1972-73 when Television Centre became operational, like other artists of the Valley, he too came to exhibit his talent on Television. He performed some acts in Chaplin style and get-up in youth programs. His dramatic entry in Mr.Farooq Nazki’s serial Aab Seem Aab’ (1977) as domestic servant Jamal and younger brother of Ramba (of famous Radio feature Zoone Dub ) established him as a capable actor and a comedian par excellent. In this performance Bashir would quite often talk to his elder brother Ramba who would always be off-camera, only his voice could be heard. Mansoor proved his mettle by reacting and responding to the dialogues of Ramba ( Nazki Sahab himself) so well that one never felt the physical absence of the co-actor. Thereafter Mansoor continued to perform different characters in other productions. However, he shot to fame as Sham Lal an agent from the vigilance department in the guise of a lunatic often uttering ‘Sham lala band wayay tara-ra -ra Rum’ in serial ‘ALAAV’ produced by Shri Farooq Nazki, and Mansoor became a household name. Thereafter he abandoned acting for a long duration due to his personal reasons but resumed acting in the latter part of the ’90s.
Bashir’s slapstick acrobatics made him famous, but the subtleties in his acting made him a worthwhile actor who concerned himself with improvisation. His pantomime skill and quirky movements made him an iconic figure.
Q:- Mr. G M Wani how do you rate Bashir Mansoor as an actor and a person.
As a person, he was a very noble and down-to-earth human being. As an artist, he was, to my opinion, was Charley Chaplin of Kashmir which he exhibited always through his performances. He was a very popular artist of his time, so determined and focused, witty and wise, sharp and alert. We worked together in many popular TV serials including the two most popular serials Alaav and Dhoop Chhaon in the direction of veteran TV personality Jinab Farooq Nazki and Zahid Manzoor Sahib. People will never forget his role in Alaav in which he managed to establish his place in the hearts of his admirers through this dialogue “Shama Lala Band Wayey Tara Ra Ra Rum”. It was unfortunate that premature death through an accident deprived Kashmiri people to watch his treasure of talent possessed in him. May Allah bestow him the highest place in Jannah.
Q:- Mr. Shabir Mujahid what all you have to say about legendary late Bashir Mansoor.
Bashir Mansur was a born comedian. He was a versatile actor. I know Bashir Mansoor for decades when we both acted in the comedy serial Sudhe e Budhe directed by Farooq Nazki. He was called as the local Charle Chaplin. He has acted in my serials and plays. His role in Chare Trurtch was remarkable. We have lost this actor in an accident very early. Shadi Lal Koul and Bashir Mansoor’s death has created a big gap in the field of acting in J and K.
Q :- Mr. Ayash Arif you have worked with late Bashir Mansoor, as an actor how has he impressed you.
Timing is life of act especially when it is comedy, the punch line must come to display at a proper time with accurate point to enhance a comic situation or a joke. Late Bashir Mansoor was thorough with all this technique. While playing some comic characters he was using his typical body language with wonderful facial gestures and synchronizing them with the rhythm of his dialogue delivery. His style was a unique by all means. Comedy makes people laugh and feel good but comedy can also express painful truth. The best example of this is the characters he played with the same feelings are SHAMI LALA BAND WAYEE TARARARA RUM in a famous television serial Aalav of the 1980s and in Chari Truch also a famous television serial of 2021 wherein, he played the role of Hagru Sahib. There are many more characters of this nature which he has played in different Television Radio and theatre productions. He was bestowed by Allah with enormous talent. He was master in projecting wit, wisdom and humour. On-screen he was known as Charli Chaplain of Kashmir. He worked in many of my productions as an actor and I can say apart from being a wonderful actor, he was a nice human being and down to earth.
Q:-Mr. Tariq Javid you have been seen in many plays with Bashir Mansoor, how was your work experience with him.
Haji Bashir Mansoor was a great comedian I have seen on the mini screen. I met in the year 1974 when Farooq Nazi introduced him as a comedian in Alaav and before it, I worked with him in the series Sodhe Bodhe. Haji Mansoor presented a show in Doordarshan in a youth programme Naye Chirag in which he presented himself as Charlie Chaplin and before it he had already presented the same show at The University of Kashmir and from that show he was got his TV name as Kashmiri Charlie. After he performed Hajj, he sidelined himself from the acting. After a continuous persuasion, I managed his comeback by quoting the example of famous Mohammad Rafi who even after performing Hajj continued to sing and finally he was convinced. He started his own productions as well. We worked together in Sodhe Bodhe, Aab Semaab and Aalav and there was a lot to learn. Working with him would mean to polish your performance. He would give you a tough time and you need to work hard to come up with something that would counter him easily. He was a pious Muslim but it was hard for him to manage the crowd for everyone would raise the voice of his famous dialogue Shame Lala Band Walie….. With his death, we lost a legend.
Bashir Dada, a famous poet and actor described Bashir Mansoor as a typical comedian with his own style and glamour. Syed Zeeshan Fazil, a film maker described Bashir Mansoor as a gentle man from downtown so plentiful with skill who never put himself in any controversy. He further elaborated that the actor was a God fearing man and he would always address his fans with a smiling face. Altaf Hussain, a theatrist while sharing his work experience revealed that In Dilbar Union sets Bashir Mansoor would make everybody laugh both on and off the stage. He was blessed with a sense of humour and he would apply it on the stage and on the screen with same severity as he would do in a friendly chit chat.
Mushtaq B.Barq is a Columnist, Poet and Fiction Writer. He is the author of “Feeble prisoner, “ Wings of Love” and many translation works are credited to the author like “ Verses Of Wahab Khar” and “ Songs Of Sochkral”