BY MUSHTAQUE B BARQ
Valor is a weapon that chisels jagged limits to create a blue of glazed imaginations wherein, an artist resides. Under the starry sky of inspired enthusiasm lies a podium where the artist performs irrespective of form and fashion to evoke spirits of skill. One such artist whose Pandora box is copious with characters, verses, verdicts, sketches and acting is Bashir Dada. One would certainly think of Tagore’s appellation ‘Dear to All the Muses’ when dealing with the multifarious magnitude of Dada Sahib for he has a pen to drain his observations on the paper, a brush to deck up his imaginations, a stage to perform his role, a technique to draft much needed for a calligrapher, a free hand to draw caricatures and a controlled breath to handle mouth organ. He was born on 25th January 1953 in Anantnag, Kashmir. He was inspired by his father Khawaja Ameer-ud-din Dada who was a legendary designer. Bashir Dada learned the secrets of colours from his father, then festooned his own ‘Rainbow’ not only with poetry embracing common narrative but also enriched his observations through acting to mark his presence on the skin of society. He took his primary education at Islamia Nasratul Islam School Islamabad and continued his studies at Govt. Central High School, where he was influenced by his Urdu teacher Mr. Abdul Gani Kuchey who would appreciate him for his involvement in various activities. It was the time when Bashir Dada’s inclination changed his personality as he would read moral stories that not only refined his conscious mind but within his sub-conscious an echo of certainty created an aura of a protagonist armed with a daring voice that in reciprocation at times would tweak him afar endurance. On the demand of his family, he had opted for medical subjects and they were looking ahead to see him clear his matriculation to get a government job, but much against his will, the signs of his disapproval were soon apparent for he was meant to write and perform. Bashir Dada has acted in more than 500 episodes for Doordarshan under the direction of prominent directors of the country like Shyam Benegal and Ved Rahi. The author is credited to have written 11 radio plays for Radio Kashmir. From Jani Mama Jani to Nund Bashir Dada’s range of acting has reached to the farthest end where one can only draw inspiration. Apart from acting his literary works like Zarum Na Doorer (Collection of Kashmiri Poems), Panch Drama (Collection of Stage Plays), Hum Chinar Wale Hain (Collection of Urdu Poems) , Hum Chinar Wale Hain-2 (Collection of Urdu Poems) and Kar Mokli Safar (Collection of Kashmiri Poems) have created his own throne wherefrom he has been ruling the heart of his fans. He has written tele-films like Gash Pazruk, Shehjaar , Dum Koother , Khud Kushi , Pace Maker , Faryaad, Chehray and Savitri besides serial like lmandaar , Hosha Hosh , Gindun Drokun , Ehsaas , Shanti and Waapsi Bahaar Ki. Under the banner Dada Sahib Films, Bashir Dada has written, produced and directed following programmes for Doordarshan Srinagar: Kashmiri Folk Songs Royalty for Regional Service Programme, Budsoorat, Dugh, Haput , a musical Tele-Serial Awaz Watchy No, Dehshet Hindustani language, Suya, Gul-e-Bahaar, Naya Savera, Muamma and Maya Zaal. It was during Muamma , I dreamt a character who informed me in the dream that from that house I had to snatch a valuable thing and just after a week or so , a friend of mine Jinab Tariq Lolapuri lost his daughter. He has also worked for his In-Production house in addition to Neel Akash Films, Nagbal Films and Visal Vision Film Makers for the projects like Yas Lagi Tas Lagi Sarkari, Wale Sorge Chamun Chhee Yaad Karaan, Yeh Gulstan Hamara, Aabroo, Talaash and Wafa. Owing to his immense work, Dada Sahib has following awards in his credit, the prominent among them are: Akashvani Annual Award for best Radio play Nab Payi Chhali Chhali in 1987. He represented Kashmir in National Symposium of Poets 2009, Bhubaneshwar (with my Kashmiri Poem entitled Yath Varee Andar , The best acting award for Tele-serial Parwaz se Pehley organized by Doordarshan Srinagar & John Soaps in the year 1987. He also won the best acting award for Stage Drama Fankaar by J&K Cultural Academy and Khilat-e-Mehjoor Award in 2009 as the best Artist.
“I believe a talented person is one who has learned how to effectively cultivate and polish his capabilities which most of us are born with but a few nurture it properly. Bashir Dada has nurtured most of his skills. He has emerged as a sensitive poet whose poetry post-1990 has shifted from romanticism to sorrow, sadness, forlornity and loneliness coupled with human agony and pain. As Cartoonist Dada has the ability to distill an idea, or a joke, into a few words and images to carry the message effectively. Often, he used his sense of humour in caricatures to help his audience to identify the one aimed at. As a fiction writer, Bashir has not indulged in using filters of metaphor and fantasy, but has adhered to portraying everyday experiences. He has chiseled realistic characters in a natural setting with comprehensive details about everyday occurrences, plausible plot, and real dialect of the area to depict a section of the society. His Imaandar possesses all such qualities apart from a good screenplay and crispy dialogues. He himself played a character of multiple shades (Mama Jani) with vibrancy in this serial.
For the first time I saw Bashir in a Tele-film wherein, he had portrayed a loud character. Though performed it with sincerity and control, but somehow it did not suit my temperament. On a chance meeting at DD Srinagar I gave my frank opinion about that performance. I am not sure till date whether he liked the comment or not but in subsequent meetings we jelled well. Bashir first time worked within a Tele Serial Ujale Ki Dehleez written by Late H. K. Bharti in 1984. He had to perform an elderly deglamorized peon, working in a local college. He performed the character of Keshw Chaprasi with utter perfection and soon gained popularity, so much so that if the story did not require his presence in any of the episodes, viewers would make inquiries and express their displeasure. Similarly in another serial written by the same writer Parwaz Se Pahle (1986), he portrayed the role of a seasoned and upright police officer with a conviction that if the youth is chiseled and trusted, can do wonders. Dada did it with such authenticity and impact that we had to shift the storyline more towards this character in the midst of the serial. Dada is a versatile actor and has tremendous potential. That is why his creations had a rare style that captured with ease both the tragic and the comic.” Rajesh Kaul, Ex-Director and Head of Dept.Media Centre.
“Dada is a multifaceted, multi-lingual, and extraordinarily talented artist. He writes brilliant prose, paints, acts, sings and has many more attributes. I will only talk about him as a poet. If he continues to write as he has been lately and with the same intensity, it won’t be an exaggeration that Dada will be our bard one day. He brings alive our daily tragedies and the tragedy of our being. He speaks about our daily sorrows of disempowerment and dispossession. He mourns for us all and in a language that speaks to us all. His words speak of our collective grief over the inevitability of the loss of our Eden. His metaphors are living, fresh and informed by our present and our past. And more than everything else, his verses bring out our frailty, our fragility, our resilience, and the contradictions in our individual and collective self, our humanity. When he writes in Kashmiri, he brings life to the language. His turn of phrase is brilliant and refreshing. He mixes and mingles colloquial and idiomatic expressions with ease. Even when he writes in Urdu, the taste of his verses remains quintessentially Koshur. “Poetry requires a margin, a siesta.The situation in Ramallah doesn’t give me this luxury. To be under occupation, to be under siege, is not a good inspiration for poetry,” Mahmoud Darwish once said.” Still, I can’t choose my reality.” Dada too couldn’t choose his reality. Home, Kashmir, like all of us, is his affliction and consolation. Kashmir lives in Dada’s verses. In Dada’s verses, you live Kashmir. To me, Dada’s poems are home. ” Muzamil Jalail, a distinguished journalist of J&K.
“An effective writer is always able to distill complex thoughts and ideas into simple, clear language that’s quickly and easily understood by others. This valuable quality helped Bashir Dada to emerge as a great writer among his contemporaries. A known playwright and a poet tackled even the densest subject matter by breaking it down into uncomplicated pieces. This reminds me his one of the greatest serials of 80’s, Imandaar. This serial touched the basic nerve of the audience. The serial knitted the basic fibers of civil society, his created characters got identified with common the common people of Kashmir. He is a great poet with present- day sensibility. Bashir Dada contributed a lot to various genres, he is a known actor, popular with the name, Mama Jani he performed in Imandaar. I have worked with him during Imandaar and Fariyaad, both were the allegorical representations of those vices which have wrecked our socio-cultural pattern.” Dr. Sohan Lal Kaul.
“Bashir Dada apart from being an artist of par excellence, I consider him Wordsworth of Kashmir for his poetry has gone deep in the hearts of his admirers. He is a multifaceted personality. Almighty has gifted him with a treasure of talent be it acting, fiction writing or poetry he has excelled himself in every field of performing arts and literature. Poetry is his passion and theatre is his love.” Ayash Arif
Q: – It is believed that academic excellence is the backbone of success, do you agree with it?
Success has many faces and I have a different opinion. I was not meant to carry my backpack, I had a different taste, so my academics hardly fixed me in the class. I was the one to move out and explore the world that I had in my mind. I will share a very attention-grabbing anecdote with you. My elder brother was a head clerk in the education department and with the help of his colleague Mr. Pushkar Nath Hando, my examination center was arranged at Matan High school, the then a green pasture for favourites. In spite of favours I cleared my matriculation in the third division. After that, I joined degree college Anantnag but again I had to carry the burden of medical subjects which my brother had already picked for me. I had no choice but to obey for the reason one would get good pocket money only if he opts for the medical stream. I was to some extent interested in Zoology because my professor Mr. Raina would draw diagrams on the blackboard which I would copy with extreme accuracy. I would always attend Professor Amin’s English class as he was my ideal teacher, yet at times I would join the Urdu classes that would end up being exorcised from the class. I would join the library but I never finished any books.
Q: – How you developed taste for poetry?
It was during my college days when a poetry session was conducted in which I too participated. In that session, I recited my romantic poem which was applauded to the extent that every boy would repeat every verse aiming at the girls sitting in the session that electrified the stage. When my professor directed me to finish the poem, but the claps kept echoing and in frustration my professor slapped the next contestant who was waiting for me to come down. After this episode, all my classmates would consider me their favourite poet. I was encouraged to show my poems to Professor Altaf who would hone my raw skill. From that day I never looked back and kept my poet in me alive and pulsating. I am in debt to Dr. Kamal Ahmad Sidiqi, Shri Lassa Kaul, Mr. Mazhar Imam, Mr. Fayaz Rifat, Mr. K K Neir, Mr. Vijay Saqi, Mr. Fayaz Sharyar, Ms. Shazadi Saiman, Mr Bashir Malik and Ms. Sita Nanda for their inexplicable contribution in sprouting my tender limbs so to touch the peaks of excellence. It was the constant hard work that sharpened my skills and above all my sensitive eye that I kept open to observe my surroundings. I am happy that people love me for the reason that I have narrated their tales in my poetry and carried on the plight of this nation, may it be romance, tragedy or a common narrative. Most of songs have found the suitable place in the hearts of my listeners and I am sure that I will keep this trend on to represent my admirers all over the country and abroad.
Q:- How did you find the way to Radio Kashmir?
My beloved brother Mohammad Salim Dada was transferred to Pulwama, I was introduced to district educational officer Ms. Aisha Amin and it was her efforts I found my way to Radio Kashmir where I met Somenath Sadhu who asked me to read a story, I read a real story of Mangham, but Sadhu Sahib asked me to rewrite the story which I thought was prejudice in contradiction to my religion. I was much depressed for I was not prepared to face dejections. It was a hard blow to my writing career, but I never gave up.
I will tell you a wonderful incident ;
When I vised Radio Kashmir with my two plays : ‘Raachdar’ and ‘ Drama Vot And’ to be submitted before Sh. Somenath Sandhu and Sh. Pran Kishore. Both dramas were initially rejected by the above mentioned legends for the reason best known to them. I was shocked beyond expectation but Mr. Motilal Kachroo came to my rescue who not only encouraged me but also inspired me to write. He suggested me to submit ‘Raachdar’ that was rejected by Sandhu Sahib to General Service and the play that was rejected by Pran Kishore to Uvavani. I did what was suggested to me. I interchanged my plays , I handed over Sadhu’s rejected to Pran Kishore and Pran Kishore’s rejected to Sandhu. The trick worked.After few weeks I came to know that approval for both was already ready. Pran Kishore ji called me at his cabin and praised my play and ensured his Production. This was the turning point of my life. I then realised that setting standards are personal choices. A sub-standard may be a standard for others, so setting a standard was just a polished prototype set by a particular mindset. I was able to break the barrier when my rejected dramas on the basis of standard were approved by another standard that elevated my merit of writing. It was the platform of Radio that introduced me with Pran Kishore, Moti Lal Kachroo and Dr. Ashraf Beg who in turn introduced me with Mulla Kamal Ahmad Sidiq Sahib, a class of his own. Since I was writing short stories besides poetry I was enriched and pruned by experts that nursed the thin stem that later turned into a truck where my verses and plots bloomed. I was by virtue of these masters able to create a room of my own with my plots and characters conversing with my verses, giving them a new shape to cater to the needs of audience. Zahid Manzoor, Rajesh Kaul, Mr. Zutshi were the icons around me with whom I worked and shared the space. On demand of Sunil Mehta I was asked to write a 52 episode serial and I wrote a story of a man by name Yousuf, a pigeon hawk from Ananatnag. The work culture was tremendous, it was a cut throat completion in which I lived and evolved.
Q:- What are you doing for the younger generation?
I am much worried about them but I have formulated a platform J K Maraaz Kamraaz Academy which is at least a place where poets and writers are being listened to and promoted to next level. I hope this platform shall serve one and all who are keen to learn and polish their abilities. I have only one thing to say to them that hard work is the only way leading to perfection any compromise in this regard can spoil a talent. I wish and hope that the young generation of this nation will never give up but shall keep serving their potentials to recreate the cultural history.
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”