By Mushtaque B Barq
Prolific pen and ink, brush and peculiar colours, chisel and hammer, art and acting are the attributes apt to a performer. You ostensibly write and move on; you typically paint and carry on; you chisel and invariably create a spot. You act and raise the stage. Life demands performance, but death eternalises the craftsmen for art only can triumph over time. One such artist whose poised pen percolated through the raw skin of society, whose acting kept the floor energetic, and whose brush hued the traditional rainbow of Kashmir, was Sajood Sailani, a playwright, a poet, and a theatre artist whom we lost. His tragic loss is irreparable, but the artist has left his visible footprints in the glittering sand of time to be followed by the generations to come.
From 12×14 ft mud-plastered room at Dalgate popularly known by its trade name Vani Art Studio, Sajood tried to fit himself in the shoes of a painter to paint the signboards of both commercial units and houseboats and Shikaras. Sajood Sailani, a visible embodiment of intricate work and tireless dedication have not only set an example of being loyal to his salaried job at painting section for State Motor Garages but has also created his own little space where his imaginations would speak through colours. Art lives with a notable artist; the same is true with Sajood. Gulam Mohammad Wani was born on 11 April 1936 at Dalgate, Srinagar, Kashmir, in Wani family. He initially took his loaded brush to apply guise on the metal, but soon his delicate feelings compelled him to bring out the colourful perception on the canvas. His paintings would invariably speak through hues and shades as he had perceived much from the silent currents of Dal Lake because he had much learnt from the towering and majestic beauty of Zabarwan, for he had taken so many dictations from the setting sun on the shallow bay of Dal Lake. Like a true observer, he created a colourful world around him, his luminosity had moved ahead of the colour wheel. His tones naturally had both unspeakable agony of the human race and exotic delicacy of sensuous delight.
After wisely leaving State Motor Garages, he enthusiastically joined the Government Medical College as a curator. This alteration not only revolutionised his observations, but also elevated his fertile imaginations beyond the visible horizon. His tinctures thrust him into the profound gulf of words. He progressively replaced his chrome with metaphors and meta-narratives. His literary taste instantly opened that colossal gate that escorted him to prove himself as a genuine drama writer. He joined his learned contemporaries not only to take local drama that was influenced by the external texture, but also he used a local idiom in his scripts to localise the plight of a common man. His apt descriptions in the social dramas generated a new wave, the gentle ripple of which lured many prolific writers and he became a standard name in the chosen field as a successful dramatist. He brought in his dramas fresh language, a common narrative, local idiom, and more necessarily brought before the audience social issues, serious predicaments, and above all his dramas brought at the fore the very excruciating pain of the public, atrocities, and expectations. His dramas branched over the civil society a shiver that not only awakened them, but also forced them to encourage remedy and social reforms. He liberated his dramas from the fetters of the traditional setting as was set for Morality plays and Bande Pather. Sajood Sailani has contributed frequently in the Kashmir drama genre, his dramas like Kaij Raath, Shuhul Naar, Raat-e- Kreel, Rupye Roodh, Wutre Bunuol, Teinth Kour shall remain echoing in our mind. He has carved his own niche, like leading dramatists of the world as for his characters are concerned. His playable characters shall faithfully keep reminding us of their independent creator. He won the prestigious Sahitya Academy award in 1994 for Kaij Raath. In 1970, he won the best book award from the J&K Cultural Academy for his anthology Shehjaar. In 1990, Sajood was awarded for Kanepakir by Akashwani. Kashmir Theatre Federation in 1974 awarded the dramatist for Ropye Roodh. His Paar Sung and Raat-e- Kreel got him awarded by the J&K Cultural Academy. He created Sangam Theatre in 1976 which proved a much-needed platform for theatre lovers. He wrote a humorous social serial Soude Te Boude depicting day to day life of a common man, besides a film Vangij.
Sajood Sailani was a member of the Advisory board Sahitya Academy (1973-1977). He was also a member of Advisory board J&K Cultural Academy (1978-82). He was a Present of ‘Sangam Theatre’ Srinagar (1971-2007). He was P.R.O. Kashmir Theatre Federation (1972 – 1995). He also worked as Vice President Kashmir Cultural Organisation (1978-1985). He also performed his duties as General Secretary ‘Hussani Cultural Trust’
A noted writer Dr. Sohan Lal Koul earnestly declared Sajood Sailani as Shakespeare of Kashmir for some visible reasons. Dr. Koul related Sajood’s creative zeal with that of great Bard.
Professor Shad Ramzan, an outstanding Kashmiri poet, describes Sajood Sailani as an active promoter of the Kashmiri language who not only by way of his dramas chiselled the Kashmiri language, but through his poetry, Sajood sahib also encompassed the entire narrative of Kashmir. Distinguished Professor Shad Ramzan while paying tribute to Sajood described him as a master craftsman who portrayed his characters within the ambits of Kashmir and through these characters, Sajood Sahib brought before the world, the plight, the joy, and above all the socio-political scenario of Kashmir.
Mr. Fayaz Dilber, a writer and a filmmaker in an audio clip affirmed Sajood as Tagore of Kashmir for the reason both were painters, poets and stage artists. According to the sources, Sajood Sailani has written 138 plays. Fayaz Dilber also informed that in the early 1960s an independent filmmaker, namely V Shanta Ram visited the Valley for his film Istri. Sajood Sailani was hired as a set designer. Sajood according to Dilber sahib was inspired by a famous Radio programme popularly namely Hawa Mahal. Sajood, later on, produced a collection under the title Majnoun Ka Muqadima and out of which many pieces were broadcast in the same programme that was like a fond dream come true for the writer.
Dr. R.iyaz Towhedi, a reputed Urdu writer described Sajood Sahab as one of the powerful dramatist who worked for the upliftment of Kashmiri language. According to Dr. R Towhedi, Sajood Sahib’s biggest contribution was to provide a suitable platform for the budding artists of the Valley.
Shakeel- ur -Rehman, a reputed Kashmiri short-story writer, and stage performer stated that Sajood Sailani was an institution in himself. The short story writer paid his tribute by appealing one and all to read and promote Sajood’s literary contribution.
Shahbaz Hakbari, a reputed writer who has currently brought at the fore three volumes in three languages adequately covering the poetic genius of Ahad Zargar, while declared Sajood Sailani as a pedestrian bridge between classical and modern dramatists. According to Shahbaz Sahib, the most suitable tribute to Sajood Sailani is to promote his literary contribution. He correctly described Sajood as a versatile poet and sensitive dramatist.
On behalf of the Jammu and Kashmir Fiction Writers Guild, I humbly submit my condolences to the bereaved family and put on record that the entire team of Guild is equally in a state of gloom. Sajoor Sailani’s loss is a national loss and his death created a vacuum that hardly can be filled.
Sajood Sailani breathed his last on 17th November 2020 at Zafran Colony and was laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard at Panderaithan
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”