By Mushtaque B Barq
Under a radiant awning of a starry night, a traveller undoubtedly arises to reconnoiter the cul-de-sac of the desert. The dog-tired comrades on their couches summon dreams to respite their extravagant wish lists. An obsessed traveller, overtaxed and engrossed, plaster his soles with the sac of earnest determination to crop the night. He establishes his own way, never looks back and moves on. He tumbles, his turban tenderly nurses the ever nursing sand with the sweat and rises without attending to his wounds. The pain attends him, but he sharpens the strength of mind and fierce hostilities mislay the command. At midnight when he wishes to show up the wrath of the merciless sand, a pole star winks at him and he smiles. His dread wins and so he leaves behind a trajectory for the others to follow. And the traveller emerges as a pathfinder. At the end of the desert when he creates his space, people at the other end of the desert hardly take any notice of it, but he fine-tunes his voice, sharpens his tools and above all keeps a vigil over the proceedings. With the passage of time, his contribution sprouts from unknown corners of the world. With the whiff of his fruits, when reaches his native land, the whole kit and caboodle tower the edifice of his roots and his a real heroism comes at fore. Basharat Ahmed, born on 8th March 1848. He has two postgraduate degrees; one in Urdu and another in English Literature from Kashmir University in 1972 and 1978. He retired as Deputy Director-General, DD India, DD Kashmir and Audience Research, Directorate General Doordarshan, New Delhi. Started as a Programme Executive in 1977 to 1980 at Radio Kashmir – Srinagar and from 1980 to 1990 at Television Centre, Srinagar. He was involved in the Planning and production of Programmes. He also wrote features, talks and scripts for current affairs, documentaries, dramas and literary programmes. He is credited to deliver performance on the microphone including interviews, running commentaries, talk shows and replying to the viewer’s letters. Basharat Ahmed has in his broadcasting career conducted Tele Press Conferences with several Chief Ministers. His shift from Programme Production to Programme Management witnessed the launch of Satellite Channels and Regional Satellite Channels. His expertise in handling the entertainment channel’s overall control and event coordination is commonly known as DD-2/ Metro for three years. From 1990 to 2008, his career history is inspiring. From 2015 to 2016, he was Chief Advisor (Media Centre) of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. From 2010 to 2015 he was a Controller Media Centre of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. From 2006 to 2008, he worked as a Deputy Director-General of DD India, DD Kashmir, Parliament Cell, and Audience Research. From 2004 to 2005, he rendered his services as Director Doordarshan Central Production and Doordarshan Kendra, Delhi. In 2000, he worked as Controller of Programmes and from 1991 to 1999, he served Directorate General Doordarshan as Deputy Controller of Programmes-DD- 2/ Metro and Assistant Controller of Programmes.
Basharat Ahmed is a multidimensional media personnel. He has played a pivotal role in the broadcasting of: First Punjab Games in 2005 held in Patiala, down streaming of International Cricket matches especially between archrivals (Indo- Pak), a day long Telefilm festival based on Indian Classics, two day North-East Western Music Festival, First Prasar Bharati Doordarshan award ceremony attended by the then Vice President of India, Live telecast of swearing in procession of the then President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, Live telecast of Agra Summit and Pakistan President’s visit to Taj Mahal and Russian President Putin’s visit to India.
He has been instrumental in supervising 15 days round the clock transmission and production of Sydney Olympics, live telecast of debate on no- confidence motion against Atal Bihari Vajpai’s Government in Parliament. He has also supervised the historical ‘Lahore Yatra’. Basharat Ahmed is credited to act as Producer incharge of deferred live and live telecast of 13 km funeral procession of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah on DD Srinagar. He did a running commentary of Morarji Desai’s River Procession in Srinagar on Radio Kashmir. He is among the luckiest ones to document the shifting of ‘Holy Relic’ from old building to present Hazratbal shrine and acted as the OB incharge of live running commentary of the event in 1978.
Basharat Ahmed has acquired training at national and international levels. His professional developments include: Speaker in first International Radio Festival in Iran organized by ABU-2008 and 2009. He is a recipient of the Best Kendra Director Award in 2001. He has been the Chief producer of Ram Leela of Ram Nagar. He has been a privileged member of Executive Committee of National Science Centre, National Council of Science Museum, and Media Committee for Elementary education, National School of Drama. He has also been a member of high power committee for restructuring EMRC, IGNOU and Press Club of India, CSOI, IICC and Sirifort Sports Complex.
Gauri Shankar Raina, an award winning writer and film maker informs:
Before the commercial satellite channels could exploit the potential of Television for their own benefit, a most popular TV channel was able to entertain viewers across India. That was DD-2, and the man behind its success was Basharat Ahmad. He not only controlled its content but roped in bigwigs of the film industry, which contributed towards an inconceivable revenue generation. Technology had made possible the National programming but the success of DD-2, also called DD-Metro, was hard to believe. Managing a channel of mass entertainment was not easy. I had got influenced by his multitalented personality during DDK Srinagar days, but to see him become known nationally as an extraordinary broadcast administrator was something great.
When he took over as the Director of the main Centre of TV operations, Doordarshan Delhi, he had to deal with many challenges. But he was not dampened by the problems that confronted him. He skilfully sailed the ship through the rough waters. Greater openness helped to begin repairing the confidence of the depressed professionals. Appropriate handling of the international collaborations, national events and momentum to quality programming was ensured. He never compromised on the quality and never allowed any uncouth fellow to walk into his office. He believed and still believes, that if a suitable person is selected for a particular job the results would be grand. This theory worked and earned him the best Kendra award.
After retiring as DDG, Doordarshan he was asked to join as Controller and later elevated as the Chief Advisor, Media Centre, IGNCA. During his six-year tenure, he guided many prestigious ventures but the UNESCO intangible heritage project stands out as an outstanding one. The month-long carnival celebrated the way it was celebrated at Ramnagar three hundred years back with no electric lights, no sound systems and just stuck into the very basic version made it special but also very difficult to cover. Nevertheless, as the chief of this project, he got it done superbly and received much appreciation both from the government and the Raja himself, who had never allowed any camera for the Lila, before this grand multi-camera coverage continuously for about forty days. I was associated with many projects and I appreciate the confidence he has shown in me.
His contemporary Shabir Mujahid adds, “Basharat Ahmad is one of the best broadcasters and versatile programmers Radio and Doordarshan India has ever produced in the field of creative art. His musical programmes recorded in the black and white era are still remembered in our homes. He projected Shameema Dev, Gh. Hassan Sofi, Raj Megum and Zoon Begum and Vijay Malla etc. Basharat Ahmed is one of the best administrators and Manager. His contribution to manage DD2 and DD Bharti in the 90s can never be ignored.”
A famous actor-director Zameer Asaie writes, “Basharat Ahmed is like my elder brother. I have great regard and respect for him. I am yet to see a person like him in the entire organisation of Doordarshan. He has served as Director Doordarshan Delhi as head of DD national and DD metro. He is an honest and upright officer with a literary background. He has always treated me with love and has provided me with space to shine. I am really thankful to him for his contribution to shape my acting career. He is a great personality, a living legend and full of wisdom.”
Bhajan Sopori, an Indian instrumentalist adds, “Basharat Ahmed to me is a complete package of qualities and to put on records about such a dynamic person, one fails to find the right expressions to shower his love and regards. I know him since 1978 and when he joined All India Radio. The kind of creativity Basharat employed in the programmes, I think he is the one who is matchless in the field of broadcasting. Many things in life matter, but honesty is what makes one grow. Basharat Ahmed is the epitome of honesty, he was honest to his duties, to his profession and above all to his own career. His role in producing live concerts was phenomenal. His suggestions and innovations in producing a concert on Rasool Mir as planned by me added grace to the concert and that was the secret of its success. His attachment to music is inexplicable. He never compromised, he is the kind of man who always prioritised his creative ability and that proved him as a successful broadcaster.”
Prof. Zaman Azurda conveys, “Basharat Ahmed and I were so close and I am proud of him for all he did for the promotion of Radio and Television programmes. We would often sit together and discuss poetry, fiction and literature in general. I summoned up a sweet anecdote: one day we had a get together in 1974 at the bank of river Sindh where we read our short stories and talked at length about our writings. His style, pronunciation and etiquettes are up to the mark. We never asked for favours and that is the secret of our friendship.”
Rukhsana Jabeen , a reputed broadcaster and poetess “I know Basharat Ahmed for 43 years when I started to participate in Voyavani programmes. He was the one who would often help me. He was friendly to one and all. He was a disciplined, punctual and focused broadcaster. I worked as a casual Production Assistant with him and it was a phase when there was a lot to learn from him. After 40 years I am disclosing a secret I have never unfolded before, it so happened during editing the tap was broken and we were in need of a blade. I collected the same from the duty room. After the tap was fixed everything moved accordingly. He immediately asked me to return the blade to the announcer which I had forgotten to return. That day he made me realise the value of gratitude. He showed me the ways to achieve my goals.”
Rajesh Kaul, Ex-Director and Head of Dept. Media Centre Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts writes,
Basharat Ahmad is one of the adorable persons who always have immaculate attire, decency in speech and punctuality. After joining DD from A I R he looked after the Music section apart from other administrative assignments. He streamlined the music section and introduced some new formats for light and folk ensembles. He has been autonomous, self-sufficient, independent, courageous and capable of confronting risky situations. Later his managerial skills overpowered him and got selected as deputy director through UPSC in 1992 and there was no looking back.
He has been a wonderful colleague who never hesitated in admiring people for their quality work. In 1983 I was given a special assignment, so I produced the Tele Play ‘YI ZAHAR KUS CHEYI’ TV adaptation of Padma Shri Late Som Nath Sadhu’s Radio drama under a special software scheme. The play was telecast in my absence as I had gone on LTC. On my return perchance Basharat Ahmad met me at the Srinagar Airport as he was leaving for Delhi and congratulated me there.
A camera presenter should have a warm, friendly aura that helps the audience to connect with him. Basharat as Presenter AAP AUR HUM (reply to viewers’ letters) had this all apart from a soft tone and a sardonic smile that helped the audience to build trust and rapport with you.
Basharat Ahmad is one of the competent and deserving persons to have been elevated to the position of DDG in Prasar Bharti has enriched broadcasting with his managerial skills. His personal image of confidence and high self-esteem will always remain etched in the minds of his admirers.
Bashir Budgami further adds, “Basharat besides playing a remarkable role in programme management made a mark by producing a series of musical programmes titled Anhar. These programmes are still very popular and are viewed on the internet. Basharat is a well-read person and that enabled him to contribute in various disciplines. He was one of the best anchors of DD and also replied to the viewer’s letters for a long time. He did some grand OBs when an OB was an uphill task. Above all Basharat are a sincere and helpful person and one of the most honest among former officials of DD.”
Shakeel –ul-Rehman, a reputed fiction writer informs that Basharat Ahmed during his tenure introduced many new singers who later turned into star singers. Basharat Ahmed amplified the music segments by utilizing the sources in the best possible way to prove that limitations are mere myths, he created and modified certain conventions as well.
Q:- You are known for breaking the ideologies of traditional broadcasting, tell us how you created a niche of your own in broadcasting career.
I believe in creativity. People before me had already created a room and I explored the space and tried to produce things in different ways and styles. It was a challenge to work under limited conditions. It was an era of mechanical recording, but in spite of the technical precincts, I tried to look at things from different angles and that imbibed a new vitality. The viewers and the experts were moved about and that set the trend in the station. Creativity is all about reconstruction. When I was transferred to Delhi which was a real challenge but I managed to establish my role as an innovator which helped me and the station. It was there I experimented a lot and people around appreciated it. When your creativity is acknowledged, you create a world of your own and thank God I was able to sharpen the skills that enhanced the production.
Q What is the secret of your success as an on the go Producer?
Success to me is the outcome of hard work and there are no shortcuts. I believe that matrix of success has been transferred to me by my elders and experts. I learnt from them and I carried forward what I was taught and the process continues. I have a firm belief that one has to pass the inheritance of wisdom to the generation down the line. For a Producer, it is necessary to learn, relearn and unlearn. Learning is a continuous process and it should never be stopped because stagnation in death. As long as you want to keep yourself active, you need to learn and pass it to your youngsters and that way you are contributing in a real sense.
Q What is the objective of Broadcasting?
Broadcasting demands brilliance aided with wit and wisdom. It needs a disciplined, punctual and highly fine individual. You as a broadcaster has to be updated, excellent in delivering things, accurate in describing the facts and above all you must work for the mission to promote awareness, universal brotherhood and above all rich human values. It is also necessary to research and revisit history and be in touch with world affairs. A broadcaster means to be highly sensitive on one hand and logically upright on the other. You must have control over your words, pronunciation and emotions, a balanced and unbiased viewpoint is always a welcome gesture and you need to present what is presentable.
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