By Mushtaque B Barq
The testable hypothesis can cautiously raise a flagpole to let a zephyr caress the peel and move on. The stir may enthrall a few but to a traveler, it is not commotion that he calls ‘the movement’, his conviction exceeds humdrum leaseholders for the reason to reconnoiter hitherto uncharted gorges of creativity. A hardheaded ‘type’ stops at the mouth of an unfathomable arroyo only to relearn what the city cacophonies had shelved on his mind. His halt is a movement in itself because distinct echoes divinely reveal their specific connotations to the one who is but a traveler in the truest of his wont and ethos. A traveler whose guts are sundried pores over the noiseless footsteps to mark intricate edges of the soles on the miry roads leading to the unmapped mysterious forest only to ascertain the true value of originality. The leading innovator thus picks his own road, though full of encounters, but after every fall, the remarkable rise creates history. Once the traveler learns how to walk unaided through an impenetrable jungle, he unconsciously takes a twig in his hand and moves on. With the passage of time, this twig spontaneously turns to be his walking stick, his tool to combat venomous snakes, a measuring rod and above all his credible source of inventiveness. A leading innovator elegantly writes his own rulebook. The principal cradle in which he lulls his own brainchild is not the obtainability of funds and formats but the restrictions. His impetus creates much-needed space for his requirements. One who establishes an iconic tower out of pebbles lying unaddressed at the extensive bay of a flowing river is a genius artist. One such mastermind is Bashir Budgami, a trained artist in Studio and Film production at TTC New Delhi in 1973 under UNDP by recognized experts from the US, UK, Germany, Australia and Canada. Bashir Budgami has 35 years of unique experience in TV production and Management as Producer, ASD, Executive Producer and Chief Producer.
He is credited for writing, producing and directing the first full-length TV feature film Habba Khatoon in 1976 for DDK Srinagar. In 1975, he brought the first telefilm on Indian TV Rasul Mir for DDK Srinagar. This film was presented at the international TV film festival in Prague Czechoslovakia. In the year 1981, his Kashmiri tele-film Zameen Che Asan was followed by first Urdu TV feature film Nazoo in 1982. The film was the talk of the town for its sublime theme. In 1985 most celebrated serial Hazar Dastan was yet another feather to his crown. Bashir Badgami also produced and directed the serial Heemal Nagrai under Indian Classics in 2008-09 and in 2007 he also wrote Mehda Shah Deka. If we go back to 1974 he produced and directed Soda Te Boda. In 1980-81 he also produced and directed Tark Maal. In the same year he produced and directed one more remarkable Urdu serial Dhoop Chhaon. In the year 1989 another Kashmiri serial Juma German came to limelight. In 1983 another Urdu tele-film Kiran Kiran Ujala was followed by another Kashmiri tele-film Aulaad and in 1985 one more Kashmiri tele-film Jalla came to public domain through TV. Bashir Badgami also directed and produced memorable documentaries and features like Gani Kashmiri, Abdul Ahad Azad, the Folklore of Kashmir and Partave Noor. Bashir Badgami has a privilege to represent India in International TV Film Festival Prague Czechoslovakia in 1978. He was awarded Bakshi Memorial Award and the best direction award by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art Culture and Languages for Tim Goreh Gaye.
Dr Sohan Kaul, an ace writer adds, “Bashir Budgami is a living legend. He is filled with immense talent. I have seen always a teacher in him. When he used to teach in Amar Singh College I was his student and when he shifted to Doordarshan I remained his student. His contribution to broadcasting is immense. He has left his footprints which preserved in archives. He is a born genius. He exercises a full command of language and happens to be a great satirist. He is the pioneer in introducing black comedy to Kashmiri literature and media. His technical excellence was at its peak in Nazoo a film on human relations and behaviour. He rediscovered Rasul Mir and Habba Khatoon. He had a tremendous edge on the history of Kashmir and with this virtue, he would play with the present through his great intellect and would create a synthesis between the past and present through his creative works. He produced a great and long series titled, ‘Ahade Raze’ which was a tremendous satire on the socio-political structure of Kashmir. He ripped open the politicians, the system and the structure of Kashmir. ‘Ahade Raze’ has become a part of our collective conscience. This character will never die as it is a metaphor for our follies.”
Bashir Dada, an eminent actor, writer and director shared his work experience with the legend in these terms, “I have acted in the lead role in two films under the direction of Mr Bashir Budgami. In the first film, my role was that of a mad son of a cancer patient mother who was admitted to Mental Hospital. During the shooting, I felt the presence of Bimal Roy around me. Mr Budgami doesn’t believe in the pretentious display. He explains the scene in a peculiar Kashmiri style.”
According to Bashir Dada, Bashir Badgami has his own way to start a scene, he does not follow the traditional yells, but explains the scene and involves himself, helps with gestures and expressions that injects life into the scene. He doesn’t make noise to impress the gallery, but explains the scene in local dialect and uses a casual way to take the best out of the actor only to create the natural atmosphere. He uses frames according to the requirements of the scene.
“I remember how I was pushed into a cell with the objective to mix up with mentally retarded patients for self-observation and to bring on the screen their mannerism. I observed all faces and that is one of the best characters Mr Budgami carved out of me.”
Bashir Dada further adds that in the second film Daag by Akhter Mohi-ud-din was one of the best roles he has played. The Bimal Roy of Kashmir narrated the story and explained my character. It was a character of a poor Sikh whose wife was killed by Pathans. After the death of his wife, poor Sikh was struggling how to look after his one-year-old baby.
“I remember Bashir Budgami had created such an apt atmosphere for mourning. I felt as if the baby’s dead body in the scene was in a real sense my own baby. Akhter Mohi-ud- din during that scene started crying and left the location. Then after the telecast, I got a lot of appreciation but I knew the fact what exactly made me perform. Yes, it was the natural style of our Bimal Roy coupled with the strength of the script that created such a powerful scene.”
Mr Budgami has been influenced by Iranian great Directors like Majid Majeedi, Musin Makhmalbaf and others. The strongest factor of Bashir Budgami’s directorial venture is his ability as an editor. He would make miracles on the editing table.
Nayeema Mehjoor, Senior journalist and author adds that Kashmir is full of talent, but we lack veneration and recognition. Bashir Badgami according to Nayeema Mehjoor is the Satyajeet Ray of Kashmir. He has produced and directed films like Habba Khatoon and Rasul Mir in a totally different scenario wherein, traditional filmmaking was the only means to produce such masterpieces. I wonder how well he utilized his limited resources to produce such archetypal films. Unfortunately in Kashmir we lack appreciation and a talented person is towered to the ether only when he dies, but during his lifetime he is forgotten like an old flower vase on the shelf. We need to come out of this ignorance and identify talented artists and highlight their role and contribution. She informs that she had worked with Bashir Badgami in his film Rasul Mir, although that was a minor role what mesmerized her was that Bashir Badgami could produce under abject limitations such a masterpiece. She declares the director as a genius writer and producer who knows how to smooth the rough edges of the stone to make it an exemplary piece of art for the generations to come.
Shabir Mujahid, film Producer reveals, “Bashir Budgami a household name in Kashmir in the field of creative and performing art. Bashir Badgami is a multi-dimensional personality. He is not only a programmer and film-maker but he is also a scholar, a critic, a poet and overall a good human being. The concept of Telefilm in TV India was given by Bashir Badgami in the ’70s when he produced and directed two historical telefilms Rasul Mir and Habba Khatoon. His longest humourous soap opera Hazar Dastaan was a milestone in DD history. Bashir Badgami has a lovely sense of humour.”
Zahoor Zahid, a reputed broadcaster, writer and a filmmaker adds, “Bashir Badgami was basically a teacher, but I know him as a genius Producer. If we compare the TV productions of the other states or countries, we stand nowhere but if at all we have a remarkable filmmaker that is undoubtedly Bashir Bagdgami. I have a reason to proclaim it and that is his creativity and innovations. He is one such brilliant filmmaker who with a scanty budget produced films of international standard. What matters is how well you know the craft and Bashir Badgami is an ace craftsman. He is a blend of three things as far as I have observed his works. He is intelligent, skilful and above all, he is creative to the extent of synthesizing something out of nothing. He is fond of Persian and Kashmiri literature that makes him different from his contemporaries in terms of thematic treatment of the film and embodiment in terms of characterizations. Ahadraaz was a political satire and I would like to mention that it was this drama that sensitized the general masses about the political scenario. He projected a cosmopolitan outlook through this drama and he will be remembered for his contribution in bringing on the screen such a serious satirical work.”
Q:-How did you start your filmmaking career?
I started with stage dramas that paved the way to the National Theatre in Badgam, a reputed theatre under its title we performed a number of plays. After that, I started to write. In 1972 we got the best drama award for Temi Gouri Gaye. Actually, this was the cornerstone of the famous Hazar Dastan. I worked as a lecturer at Amar Singh College and with the advent of Doordarshan I gave up teaching and joined the TV station. I was fond of acting and presenting my observations as a writer on the big screen. I have started with a scratch but then if you are passionate to perform, no one can stop you. For every creative work, you must have keen observations aided with vision. I believe it was my passion coupled with my studies that I nursed with a creative zeal which finally carved out Bashir Badgami, a filmmaker from an unexplored marble sheet. I was encouraged by Farooq Badgami, my maternal uncle who is a forerunner of many good things in Kashmir. Shahid Badgam my maternal uncle also contributed a lot to the theatre. I have actually from my childhood watching them in an active mode and that inspired me to follow the suit . I have read a lot may it be Urdu literature, Kashmiri literature or Persian or Russian literature and once you are equipped and exposed to many cultures, you end up utilizing this for a constructive purpose.
Q:-What was the source of Hazar Dastan?
We had a playable character within our local vicinity. One day Nazir Josh, my younger brother carefully framed a character sketch just for fun and I subtly suggested some modifications which he promptly did to my satisfaction that encouraged me to produce it on the screen. Then the same was produced as an innovative experiment which was a unique blend of folk and modern theatre. We had never expected this informal drama to be the household name. After an unimaginable response from the viewers, we reshaped it as a political satire and that soon it instantly turned to be the most-watched serial, we could have even dragged it up to a thousand episodes, but we concluded that after 52 episodes.
Q:-What was your contribution for Television?
I contributed a lot, but my major contributions are a musical biographic film Rasul Mir and Habba Khatoon. Apart from routine assignments, I would do musical programmes and shows on literature. Making Rasul Mir was a challenge because I had a paltry budget of rupees 5000 for one and a half-hour film besides lack of shooting gears. Throughout the year the camera was allotted to me for 9 days only, but later on, I was convinced to complete my film within a week which I did after editing it properly. After the completion of this film, a press VIP show was organised where my film was showcased. Shamim Ahmad Shamim, the then a parliamentarian highlighted the film in the parliament. The film was actually based on seven ghazals of Rasul Mir accurately depicting his life.
Next to it was one more famous film Habba Khatoon that was telecast in 1977. The film was praised not only in India but across the globe. When Indira Gandhi visited Afghanistan, a few songs of this film were played on the occasion. Even when she visited Moscow, the trend continued. It was a film that I wrote, directed and produced with a budget of 22000 rupees only. I still wonder how I managed to complete the film within that budget. If this film would have been made in the current scenario, the budget might cross a few cores. Hazar Dastan and Nazoo Urdu film are the best of my works which I directed and produced for Television.
Q:-You have always brought unfamiliar faces in your films how did you manage that?
It is true that I have brought unfamiliar faces, but I have also cast a few reputed actors as well. Yes, in my first film I enthusiastically promoted Ghani Khan who was a handsome young man from the old city and a lady who hardly knew anything about acting. Actually, I cannot do acting, but I can make anyone do what I want him to do and it is this inborn capability in me that helped me in projecting new faces. In my second film I cast Rita Razdan, she was then a student and promoted her as a heroine. I was always prompted to ceremoniously present new faces before my viewers.
Q:-What is your currently occupation? Are you satisfied what our artists are doing now a days?
I have kept myself busy which is imperative for survival. I read mysticism and keep observing the world around me. I am enjoying the appealing beauty of literature and that is the best thing I am doing currently besides routine things that are unavoidable.
The unfortunate thing is that we have not produced something to celebrate after a few films. I think there are so many reasons for it. The lack of apt platform, financial constraints, lack of motivation and above all in this digital age the creative is the worst hit. Sensitive technology has its detrimental impact as well, I agree but then creativity cannot be hopelessly compromised. We need to produce world-class films and programmes by taking refuge from technology because it can surely uplift the traditional sources. I wish the artists good luck and pray for their future endeavours.
Mushtaque 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