BY AVTAR MOTA
Poet Farooq Nazki informs :
“ The radio opera Vyath featured in Radio Kashmir’s annual Drama Festival of 1968.It was a great effort by Naadim Sahib in experimentation and extension of form and content in kashmiri poetry. It was a Qaiser Qalandar production for the radio .Qaiser Sahib was a Musicologist . He had a deep understanding of Kashmir’s traditional music that includes Sufiana and folk . Infact he also wrote a Book on music that was released in London by his friends and well wishers . His radio opera Vyath became a talk of the town for its excellent music.. Later , the stage adaption of Vyath done under name ‘VITASTA’ was produced by the J&K Academy of Art Culture and Languages. It was directed by Pran Kishore Kaul and the music for the stage adaption was composed by Virender Mohan ,a well known musician from Jammu.”
WHO WAS QAISER QALANDAR ?
Sayyed Qaiser Qalandar (1926-1998 ) was a well known broadcaster , poet , writer and musicologist from Kashmir . Bespectacled , he was always smartly dressed and presented a scholarly look . He spoke less and was publicity shy .
Qaiser Qalandar contributed significantly during the initial / Formative years of Radio kashmir Srinagar .
In the March 14 ,2015 issue of newspaper Greater Kashmir ,Syed Humayun Quaiser (son of Qaiser Qalandar ) writes:
“Qaisar Sahib’s outstanding contribution to production of Kashmiri music is all too well known and accepted. But a lesser known is that he wrote as well as produced Radio Operas. His collection of operas in urdu ’Saaz e Jamal’ was published way back in 1960s.
Here I am reminded of an incident about the highly acclaimed radio opera ’Veyth’ written by famous poet Dina Nath Nadim and produced by my father. Nadim Sahab had indicated in the script the final song of the opera ‘Vyeth Aye Maharin Souneyea’should be a Roeff song. Without giving any hint of his disagreement Qaisar Sahab composed the song as Wan Wun instead of Roeff – his logic being that a bride is received at grooms place with the sounds of Wan Wun and not Roeff. “
He served at various locations including Srinagar , Amritsar , Calcutta and New Delhi and rose to become Deputy Director General of Prasar Bharti ( AIR ). His Travelogue to Europe appeared in a serialized version in Urdu weekly Chaman in 1970. This travelogue gives a grand peep into life and culture of western Civilization ( Europe ) . It also appeared in Soan Adab ( our Literature ). For AIR , He also recorded an Interview with Begum Akhtar when she was in srinagar .
Vesiye Gulan Aawaye Bahaar Az Saal Auntan Baalyaar( Poet Maqbool Shah Qraalwari )…By Naseem Begum who was from Jammu but resided in Kashmir .
Vesiye Gulan Aawaye Bahaar Az Saal Auntan Baalyaar (Poet Maqbool Shah Qraalwari ).. By Raj Begum.
Mashraavthhuss Janaan Tche kar yaad Pyamaai Baa ( Poet Rasa Javidaani )
Ruum Gayyam sheeshus Begurr guvv Baana Myon ( Poet Mirza Arif ).. Duet sung by Raj Begum and Naseem Akhtar . Naseem Akhtar was from Kashmir.
About above songs and female singers of Radio Kashmir, Qaiser Qalandar writes:
“ Naseem Begum was the first female soloist, who had to work hard to do a Kashmiri song. I was looking after the music section then, in addition to some other programmes. During those days everything was broadcast “live”, including music. After many a rehearsal and correcting enunciation and diction of Kashmiri Ghazal of Maqbool Shah Kralwari…Wesye Gulon Aawye Bahar…before broadcast Naseem Begum went on air. It was an instantaneous success.
Raj begum’s first song was again Maqbool Shah Kralwari’s ghazal…Wesye Gulon Aawye Bahar…with better diction and pronunciation. You would recall the rendering of Rasa Javidani’s ghazal…Mushravthas Janane…Tschi Kar Yaad Peymeeay Bea…besides many of the popular performances of her under my direction and with my composition of music. Both reguRaj m and Naseem Akhtar have innumerable songs to their credit composed by me. Mirza Aarif’s lyric…Rumm Gayam Sheshas Begurr Ghom Bana Meyoun…is one of the many outstanding presentations. Both these ladies also presented compositions of Mohan Lal Aima and Verinder Mohan during the first decade of Radio Kashmir Srinagar. Later on, Nassarullah Khan and G.N.Shaikh and M. Ashraf carried on the production of light music in Kashmir.
Naseem Akhtar and Raj Begum were followed by some literate female soloists as Nirmala Devi, Prabha Devi, Miss Shangloo and a few others over a period of next ten years.
At a later stage, Asha Kaul, Shameema Dev, Kailash Mehra, Jahan Ara Janbaz, Haseena Akhtar and now Jamila Khan and some other soloists were introduced within last three decades of 20th century. The educated women such as Zia Durrani, Kumari Shakun and Rajeshwini Dhar also participated in programmes. These female soloists with their artistic expression attracted greater respect.
The credit of widening the circle of performing female artists squarely goes to a few devout members of the staff of the Music Section. Now the situation appears to be vastly different from the early period of Radio Kashmir Srinagar because there is a regular inflow of female musicians even through the programmes for the specific audiences as also the general services. There are no two opinions about my frank assertion that the quest and sustained effort of Radio Kashmir, Srinagar helped to introduce the female artists to the listeners. It was obviously a revolutionary change for the good.
The soloists were squarely followed by some groups of women folk music singers. The concept of folk music as a device for enlivening programmes for rural audiences only was done away with. The folk songs attracted the attention of music lovers and won the hearts equally of the sophisticated. Just think of Zoon Begum and party presenting Rasool Meer’s ghazal…Bala-ma-reyoo…or Dina Nath Nadim’s…Bombro Bombro…This party was followed by Mehtab Begum in fifties.
The endeavour of Radio Kashmir, Srinagar continued to produce high quality Kashmiri light music in the shape of chorus songs and as a part of operas such as “Heemal Nagrai”, “Bombur Yemberzal” and “Vyeth” of Nadim, Lol Yale Motas Phor of Rehman Rahi and many more. My compositions of Vyeth became all-time favourites of every generation that followed and have often been plagiarised.”
I end this brief post with lines from a Gazal of Qaiser Qalandar …
Yaadon ko Sulaa duun ki lamhon ko pukaaroon
Iss Raat ke sehraav mein akela hi khadaa huun
Phoolon ki na yeh seij na kaanton ka hai Bistar
Kis naam se mein umr e gurezaan ko sadaa duun
Avtar Mota is a blogger, columnist and writer