Thursday, March 7, 2013



From amongst the shias of Kashmir who had migrated to Lucknow in 19th century , a few families moved further towards other places like Kanpur , Varanasi and Allahabad in search of green pastures. inspite of the fact that nothing kashmiri remained with them in terms of tradition or culture , they would still proudly attach kashmiri tag to their names . Some had no choice but to marry locally . One such family of shawl merchants that moved from Lucknow belonged to Agha Mohd Ghani Shah who married a lady from Benaras in 1868 AD and settled in Nariyal Bazar Mohalla , Govind kalan Benaras . A son was born in this family in 1879 AD who was named Mehmood Hashr .Being Orthodox and opposed to English Education , Agha Mohd Ghani Shah ensured that the boy got good Persian , Arabic and religious education. The boy on the other hand desired English Education and as such was reluctantly admitted toJai Narayan Mission high school Benaras . Though he could not qualify the final tests , Mehmood Hashr got fairly good knowledge of English Literature and some basic knowledge of Theatre in this school. Here in this school Mehmood Hashr also learnt Hindi and Sanskrit. He also started writing urdu poetry and watching plays performed by visiting Parsi theatre companies .During those days these Parsi theatre companies would visit various cities and perform Popular plays based on local themes and folktales .

 Young Mehmood Hashr was drawn towards this theatre and moved to Mumbai at a young age of 18 years to write script and songs for Alfred Theatre Company on a initial salary of Rs15 per month . He wrote his first play MURID E SHAK based on “WINTER TALE ” written by Shakespeare and earned an instant salary hike of Rs40 per month. Agha Hashr finally earned a handsome amount of Rs1200 Per month from writing plays alone . This was a luxury at that point of time .

Some popular plays that he wrote included Khawaab e Hasti, Khoobsoorat Bala, Shaheed e Naaz , Naar e Asteen , Meethi Chhuri , Dil Ki Pyaas ,Rustam Sohrab , Said e Hawas , Shahid e Naan , Yahoodi ki Ladki ,Laila Majnoo ,Do Rangi Duniya , Anarkali ,Safaid Khoon, Kismat ka shikar , Mashriki Hoor , Aankh Ka nasha ,Dam e Husn , Thandi Aag , Bilwa mangal , Pehla Pyaar, Sita Banwaas ( Hindi ) , Bhakt Surdaas ( Hindi ) , Ganga Avtaran ( Hindi ), Van Devi ( Hindi ), Bharat Ramani ( Hindi ) ,Bhisham Pratigya ( Hindi ),Bharati bala ( Hindi ), Chandi Dass ( Hindi ) and many more plays .These plays made him to move to Calcutta , Lahore and Mumbai frequently and earn a princely income during those days .

Agha Hashr had profound knowledge of Ramayana , Mahabharta apart from Shakespeare and Sheridan . Some of his plays were based on stories fromFirdausi’s Shahnaama .Some plays were derived from Mahabharata and Ramayana stories directly.

And when the cinema came , it wiped off the entire Parsi theatre . Every one in the theatre moved to cinema . So did Agha Hashr kashmiri . He now sold some of his plays to film companies and all these scripts were instant hits . These included Chandi Dass , Yahudi Ki ladki , Rustum Sohrab, Shirin Farhaad and kismet ka shikaar etc.

He lived in Calcutta from 1920 to 1932 where most of his Hindi plays were written including Chandi Dass . During last days of his life , he moved to Lahore and formed his own film company . He would quite often visit Amritsar and stay with friends over there more so on account of the fact that a large number of kashmiris lived in Amritsar at that point of time .
It may be pertinent to mention that Agha Hasr kashmiri was an established urdu poet who also wrote lyrics for some movies .His Popular songs and Gazals include :-
1 Soo e Maiqadaa Na jaate To Kuchh aur Baat Hoti
Woh Nigaah se Pilaatay to kuchch aur Baat hioti

2 Yaad mein Teri jahaan ko Bhooltaa jaata huun mein
Bhholnay wale Kabhi Tujh Ko Bhi Yaad Aataa Hoon Mein .

3 Tum Aur fareb Khaao Bayaan e Raqeeb se

The last Gazal sung by Farida Khanum created new popularity records in the entire subcontinent and urdu speaking world .Incidentally Farida khanum is a sister of Mukhtar Begum whom Agha Hashr kashmiri married in 1930. Mukhtar Begum was a dazzling beauty who was an accomplished dancer and singer from Amritsar . Mukhtar Begum’s parents were from two different cultural backgrounds , while her mother was from a Kashmiri family of Amritsar , her father was a Punjabi. She would sing and dance in various courts of the then Nawabs and Maharajas .She moved to Calcutta to live with Agha Hashr where she also acted as heroine in some plays written by her husband . Infact farida khanum was a little girl who also accompanied them and lived with her sister in calcutta .Mukhtar Begum also acted in some films like Chitra Bakolii, Inder sabha , Hateeli Dan , Krishna kant Ki wassiyat, Muflis Aashiq , and Dil ki Pyaas . In fact she was a big name in Indian cinema during 1930 to 1940. Later She also worked at All India Radio for some time.. She moved to Pakistan after partition of the country and died in Karachi in 1982.
                                                             ( Mukhtar Begum )

Agha Hashr’s house still exists in Dalmandi in Varanasi, and the lane leading to it  is known as Agha Hashr Lane . Prof. Yaqoob Yawar from Banarus Hindu University has compiled his Kulliyat in 8 volumes.

“ Hashr ” Meri Shair Goyee hai Faqat Faryaad o Shouq
Apnaa gham Dil Ki zubaan mein Dil Ko samjhaata hoon Mein


He moved to Lahore to experiment in film production but died before its completion on 28 April 1945.

( Avtar Mota )

Thursday , March 7th 2013. Time 11.15 PM .. Good Night 

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1 comment:

  1. It seems even his wife or mistress mukthar was half kashmiri. Can you pls enlighten us on that aspect? who were her parents? and what all plays of agha did she act in? when did they meet and fall in love?


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