By Mushtaque B Barq
Voice is an influential apparatus to diffuse the intention into the civilization. It at times acts as apposite assertion and yet on occasions as appeal. A storm is a voice, so is the placid breeze. A rush of a brook or a wave tossing a bedrock both create opinions. Nothing is silent, even silence is a crowd. The voice is our identity, our formless existence, we are recognized by our eloquence and we are analysed by our modulation. For a broadcaster, this module is as upright as an aesthetic manifestation for a visual artist. The quality of vocal sound, the appropriate use of ascent, a blend of softness and hardness, groaning and choking are the prerequisites for a performer or stage artist or for that matter of fact for the Radio. Voice is the passport that enables an artist to visit the hitherto unexplored crevices and vast alike. Even in the disguise, a performer is picked by the voice he is known for. His mask may create illusions, his gestures may for a moment form an imprint hard to make out, yet his flair of talking, his voice mannerisms, his mother tongue influence and natural flow of diction can never be compromised unless dubbed. One such substantial and operative voice is Bashir Aarif. Known for his inspiring and encouraging approach, Bashir Aarif has helped a lot of budding artists and writers in finding a proper platform in Radio.
Born in a well-read family at Drogjan Dalgate in 1954 completed his schooling up to 6th grade at Government Primary School Drogjan. His further studies continued at Government School Sonawar followed by S P Higher Secondary School. From S P College to the University of Kashmir, he was well equipped with the passion to stand on his own. In 1966 he was inducted as a family member Nazir Lala in the world-famous Radio family feature Zoona Dab broadcast from Srinagar Radio in 1966. This feature created history in the field of broadcasting and as such most of the day to day social problems were highlighted in the programme. Bashir Aarif was appointed as Programme Executive in 1982 and served at the different stations of AIR that not only elevated his stature but also gained a lot of experience much needed for future endeavours. 1n the year 1991 Bashir Aarif qualified IBS through UPSC and was appointed as Station Director and his first place of posting was AIR, Leh where he proved that sky is the limit of innovations. He blended a Ladkhi Folk song with the Kashmiri song which he himself wrote and late Ghulam Nabi Sheikh composed Hes Neunam Bala Yaeri …Janana Zaeri bozya which touched the horizons of popularity in Kashmir and Leh.
It is said once you reach the hearts of the general gender, there are only two options left with you. One that you have to live by the expectations of your admirers by engaging them differently and the second you need to keep the lamp of your own creativity well lit. Both these potentials attribute to an artist. Bashir Aarif has not only kept the admirers on toes by his performances may it be through his voice or may it be through his pen. His pen has a melodious voice as an added value. His inclination towards poetry, short stories and Drama has carved out of him a skilful artist who knows when and what to deliver in the best of the medium. Bashir Aarif has in his credit Deeda Giryaan, poetry collection, Meyaani Wacchik Kotar, a collection of Kashmiri short stories, Sar Ho Wandai Padan, a collection of Natiya Poems and My ugly Indian Face, an account of his life and experience (English). Besides above mentioned Bashir Aarif has written lyrics for Bollywood films like Shikara, Bab etc
Bashir Aarif is the recipient of Sadiq Memorial Award 1981, Hyderabad Karnataka Urdu front award 1985, Khilat e Tauqeer by Kashmir Young writers Association, Khil e Noor by Kashmir Markaz e Adab Wa Saqafat and Al Haj Fazil Kashmiri Memorial Award 2021 by Fazil Memorial Foundation.
Farooq Nazki, Director Doordarshan and AIR Srinagar adds:
It is not an easy job to comment about a person whom you have seen coming up from a child artist to the highest official position in broadcasting. Growing from a child artist into a fine broadcaster, short story writer, poet and drama voice is in itself an achievement. He has liking for music and sometimes composes a song and sells it to an audience, and such an uphill task needs passion and he has impressed one and all by virtue of his abilities. I always had a sort of a love-hate relationship with him. Like that of a parent with their itinerant child.
I loved him basically but sometimes he became a very difficult child for me. And like an errand boy, he would create problems in otherwise very easy circumstances. Bashir is a man for the crisis. He is an organiser and official who can manage things efficiently in difficult times and in peaceful times he is a treat for his poetry and prose and for his nice dramatic performances.
Bashir Aarif rose from a broadcaster to the office of Deputy Director-General in All India Radio. For his wisdom, intelligence and knack to create a team of his own, he was often a pungent topic for his critics. Most of the time they would leave him out but they could not make him fail. He would do everything himself. He did the recording, scripting as also post-production. He was adept at handling all aspects of broadcasting. His fine writing and prose, especially Kashmiri prose, has become part of our history, a part of the growth of Kashmiri fiction. Especially short stories like Gope and others. Our broadcasts earlier used to be OB’s, out broadcasts. We would go out to record people. Now it is a different story. If you have a phone, you can record. Anywhere and anytime. But in those days when technology was not so advanced, it was your voice, your selection of interviewee and interviewer that would make a good program. From those times to the current times when things have become so easy and yet competition is high and global, Bashir Aarif stands out as a singular gentleman of Kashmiri broadcasting. The Nazir Lala of Zoon e Dub grown into a retired gentleman but one who has not retired mentally and retains his youthful verve and valour. He is now a grandfather but to me, he will always be the ‘Nazir Lala’ of ‘Zoon e Dub’. Who would get tired as the clock struck ten while making Zoon e Dub and would whisper in my ear that the next day he has a class test or that his mathematics work has suffered because of the program.
I remember him from that time and I think he has kept his accounts very clean with the world of broadcasting. He has lived in the hearts of people first as a child artist in Zoon e Dub and later as the head of Radio Kashmir itself. An organisation that he has shared with many a stalwart and intellectual giant.
Bashir Dada, a well-known poet, actor/director unfolds the personality of Bashir Aarif as :
‘A Great Programmer ‘ with a towering stature as a broadcaster Bashir Aarif reached the peak of Art and Literature through a learning process From step one. He did not appear on the Horizon of Art and Literature all of a sudden. He got introduced by a team of Stalwarts like Shri Somnath Sadhu. Bashir Aarif is the luckiest person who emerged as a star in Radio Feature Programme Zoon Dub when he was a teenager. His character of ‘Nazir Lala’ became the household name. Then he proved his worth as Drama artist and his base voice got registration among the chronic listeners of Radio Kashmir. It did not take him much time to surprise people when his poetry that touched the hearts of poetry and music lovers.
Who can forget this verse: Bu Karai Tcheh Pomperen Gathh Yih Shabbah Guzar Saanay. After that, he did not look back and contributes a lot to the Kashmiri poetry. I am tendering my apologies to critics by putting forward my personal view about the abilities of Bashir Aarif as a short story writer. My view may be controversial but to me, he is in the first line of short story writers where Akhter Mohi ud din figures at the top and if we read Bashir Aarif’s short stories without knowing the writer, one can feel the flavour and standard of Akhter Mohi ud din and his contemporary short story writers. (This is my personal view about the Short Stories of Bashir Aarif) . The great quality of Bashir Aarif’s person is that he is completely down to earth. I have seen him enjoying and sharing the company with his peons when he was DDG AIR.
I don’t like his being over expressive, but that too is the beauty of his multidimensional personality and being so is because of his great sense of humour. He believes in bringing smiles to gloomy faces. Yes, Bashir Aarif can bring smiles on the face of a person breathing his/ her last.
Another film maker Syed Zeeshan Fazil further adds:
“Bashir Aarif is a household name in Kashmir. He joined the field of broadcasting in 1964. He remained associated with theatre Radio and Srinagar TV. He is a promising short story writer poet and broadcaster. Bashir Aarif is a seasoned poet. He writes beautifully and carries on a message in his lucid way. He is an impressive organiser, a disciplined administrator at the last leg of his service at Radio Kashmir as its Director. He streamlined its function introduced several new formats for programmes and also gave status to his staff as programmers who educate their viewers by their presentation. His way of speaking his memory his diction and his approach has always been impressive and convincing. Incidentally, we both have been introduced by Late Som Nath Sadhu in media. I in 1962 and Bashir in 1964 and since then we share a bond of friendship in media as well as in day to day life.”
Humayun Qaiser, former Director Radio Kashmir says, “I found Bashir Aarif to be a complete Radioman who ate, slept and breathed Radio. He rose as a child prodigy in broadcasting and served for over five decades with élan. As he climbed the ladder of the hierarchy he proved himself to be a gutsy administrator. You would find him thinking on his feet while taking decisions, ready to take challenges head-on.”
Waheed Jeelani, Artist, Social and Cultural Activist writes, “Bashir Aarif, a close friend of mine, is a person who has a knack for using different styles and techniques in his words to communicate his ideas with readers very skillfully. He produces different forms of mesmerizing literary art and creative writing. Bashir Aarif is a remarkable and talented writer who contributes significantly to the cultural content of our society. His poems stun one and all. They are aided with rhythmic melody. His poetry touches the heart of a common man.”
Zameer Ashai, actor, director adds, “Bashir Aarif, a legendary figure in the field of broadcasting has produced a number of quality programmes in AIR. He is a superb drama voice, a tremendous presenter, a great poet. He is a nice human being down to earth. I know him for the last forty years and he has reached the level of deputy Director General All India Radio only because of his dedication and professional skills. I personally love him.”
Q: – How helpful was the family atmosphere around you?
Right from my childhood, I had an immense liking for literature. Since my uncle, grandfather and father all were well educated. The atmosphere around me was literary and would find my elders always busy in interesting discussions and that sprouted in me an artist. This created a passion for reading in me which I followed religiously and that really helped me as a poet and a short story writer. I feel blessed for the reason that literature, language, syntax, composition and discussions were freely available and I was keenly listening to the elders. I would often showcase my contribution to them and valuable suggestion and warm criticism have cuspidate my skills and the credit of it goes to my elders. I always believe that a suitable environment can help a child to explore his potentials. We must provide a cordial immediate to let the younger generation notice the traditions. I was lucky to have all that in my family. As I have read somewhere ‘Give a man a horse he can ride’ so it true with me. I found my ride well in time and that eased my future endeavours.
Q :- Tell us about your Radio journey ?
I got a chance to listen to the children’s programme on Radio Kashmir Srinagar. I was so much keen to join this programme. I managed to attend the next programme in April 1964. I was sitting in the studios of Radio Kashmir, things suited me, the aura was too appealing to ignore. I joined in, polished my skills, gained much-needed knowledge about programmes and finally found myself in the broadcasting section. During all these years most remarkable role that I played as a voice actor in Zoon e Dab was ‘Nazir Lala’. There was much to learn and I kept myself open to learning. You learn from mistakes and eminent artists around. From a participant to Deputy Director-General, the rest is my contribution. If want to know me, judge me through my contributions both as a broadcaster and writer. My dramas are my reflections, my short stories are my observations and my poems are my sensibilities and in my Natiya Qalam I have expressed my faith.
Q:- What has been your role as a DDG in the promotion of Culture and Art?
As a broadcaster, my only tenacity was to promote quality programmes. I never compromised on the quality of a programme. All the Producers know this fact that it is quality, not quantity that mattered for me. Any good Producer may it be insider or outsider, whosoever had a good product he was promoted. Actually what matters is the service to the culture and art. It is a joint effort and quality products are assets and during my tenure, I was well aware of this fact. It is better to broadcast a few programmes of excellence against thousands worth nothing. When you are a writer, an actor and reader, the job gets easier to find a suitable programme. As a writer, you would analyse its depth and accuracy, as an actor you can judge the scene and sequence and as a reader you can add dimensions to the content. All these things helped me and that was my success.
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