Tuesday, July 14, 2020


GOODBYE  MY FRIEND  SHADI  LAL KAUL ( Born 1955 - Died 12th  July,  2020)

"Shamas ud Din aage bado hum tumhaare saath hain"

I heard the boys shouting this inside Botanical Park near Chashm e Shahi garden,  Srinagar on a summer day in 2009. I knew that a TV serial   “ Jatta Vanai “ for DDK , Sringaar was being shot with Shadi Lal in the lead role. I asked one of the boys who must have been barely 19 years old as to who is Shamas ud Din and he immediately opened his small notebook to show me the autograph of Shadi Lal Kaul . It was surprising to find enormous fan following of Shadi Lal even amongst children born after 1990 in the Kashmir valley. Further questioning revealed that they were regularly watching the serial Shabrang ( 104 episodes )  produced by  DDK , Srinagar . Who does not remember Shadi Lal's dialogue , " Begum salaal tse kyaazi  goyee malaal "  from this TV serial ?

This play was telecast for 3 successive years ( 1981 to 1983 ) and i vividly remember how  shops would close early  and people would rush to their homes to see what Shamas ud Din had to say in the new episode . The play created a character that became as popular as 'Machama ' of Pushker Bhan. Shadi Lal became the face of an  ordinary poor or middle class Kashmiri through his innumerable plays telecast on Doordarshan  Kendra , Srinagar or performed on stage at Tagore Hall ,Srinagar.

So much was his popularity  that he preferred to remain indoors as people identifying with his characters would embrace him on roads . Ladies would kiss his forehead in traditional Kashmiri style . The shopkeepers , Tongawallas , vegetables sellers , drivers , school and college students would shout "Shamas ud Din Zindabad " loudly at him.

Once he told me this :-

"My inspiration has been the clerks , drivers  Tongawallahs, labourers , petty traders on the footpath and men trapped in circumstances beyond their control . I do not remember how many plays i have done . Most of the plays were performed on stage . A good number of plays were adapted by the  television as well . I also  acted in a Door-Darshan serial under Shyam Benegal banner with Om Puri. My character as Houseboat owner in Balwant Gargi's Play "Houseboat " for  Doordarshan was well received . I also acted in a Kashmiri movie ' Inquilab' produced by a Mumbai based producer and directed by D.K.Kanwal.

Once  I was shooting in Sopore where  a  Tongawalla came to the venue and asked me to come to his house for five minutes to have a cup of tea with him. He had also brought some fish for me.  I told him  that i was with  the shooting team and had to go to another village for some shots whereafter I had to rush to Srinagar . He felt disheartened . I assured him to visit his house upon my next visit.He hugged me .  Reciprocating his affection , i too hugged him . He kissed my forehead and  held my hand  as tears rolled down his eyes. He had seen me in  Shabrang TV serial . When I left Sopore, I kept looking at him from the car window for a long distance. He kept waving . I reciprocated. That was my award."

  A careful look at him revealed humour in his mannerism and body language . He would  make appropriate use of his hands and facial expressions . His steps on the  stage were always  calculated to match the content of the dialogues. He hardly needed   rehearsals . Apart from acting , Shadi Lal also wrote script for a popular TV comedy 'Shukriya'  directed by Rajesh Kaul . His acting field was  not confined to Kashmiri theatre alone . I remember his acting in a Hindi play 'Dulari  Bai'  in 1981. When Dr Sohan Lal Kaul translated the popular Kannada play 'Haivadan ' by Girish Karnard to Kashmiri ( Gurey Buthh ) , it was Shadi Lal only who became the first choice of the director for this play. And when Mohan Niraash translated a Kannada play by S L Bairappa , Shadi Lal was again in the lead role.He has told me this :-

 “ Some  artists from whom I  draw inspiration include Vijay Suri , Makhan Lal Saraf , Jawahar Wanchoo, Ghulam Nabi Baba and Pran Chandra.I also prefer good script writers  like  Ali Mohd Lone , Farooq Masoodi , Hriday Kaul Bharti , Bashir Dada and Hari Krishen Kaul .”

Born in a middle class family of  Chotta Bazar, Srinagar , Shadi Lal  was a self taught man . Together with his friend Ayash Aarif,  he founded  the 'Kali Das Theatre 'at Chotta Bazar , Srinagar  and began his journey in theatre.

Shadi Lal acted in the play "Local Taxes Extra" written by Dr Sohan Lal Kaul.The play was performed at Tagore Hall,  Srinagar in 1981. A history of sorts was created by this play in Srinagar. Tickets for the shows would always be sold in advance  for a fully packed hall. Additional chairs were always put to accommodate the audience . Once the Staff at Naaz cinema nearby gave a thrashing to the artists performing at Tagore Hall.They were advised  to pack up as the play had played havoc with their cinema business. This play was also adapted for television   by Ashok Jailkhani . I vividly remember how  Rajesh Kaul,  another producer at  DDK,  Srinagar brought a multistep camera to Tagore Hall Srinagar and recorded the play for the Doordarshan audience.

  Another  popular TV serial done for DDK, Srinagar "Rangan Heund Rang  " written by Pushker Bhan and directed by Dr Sohan Lal Koul  had Shadi Lal Kaul as  'Nikka Kottur', the lead character   .I am also reminded of a comedy serial called  'Cherry Treuch'  written by Makhan  Lal Saraf and directed by Ayash Aarif for DD Kashir wherein Shadi Lal played the role of Gopi Nath Gagroo. Another comedy 'Ghulam Begum Badshah'  for DD Kashir directed by Ayaash Aarif had Shadi Lal playing the main characterof ' Mokhta Mir' . None can forget the comedy 'Tijaratuk Assan Tareeqa ' written for DDK, Srinagar by Hriday Kaul Bharti produced and directed by Shabir Mujahid. Shadi Lal acted as Master Ji in this popular drama .' Gaaash Inuss Taam ' was another   play written by Hriday Kaul Bharti and directed by Rajesh Kaul for DDK, Srinagar wherein  Shadi Lal's dialogue " Maaji hinz driyee kaami doah guvv zaayee " is still remembered by people in  the valley . Shadi Lal also acted in three episodes of 'Gul Gulshan Gulfaam ' under Cinevista banner .
Dastaar  ( turban ) was a play that touched the height of popularity in Kashmir valley. Written by  Hari Krishen Kaul for theatre initially, the play was staged at Tagore Hall in 1978 in a drama festival organised by J&K Academy of Art Culture And Languages . The  play was produced by Kamal Theatre, Badyaar Bala and directed by Santosh Tiku . Shadi Lal acted as ' Section Officer 'in this play and received 'Best Actor Award '  for his memorable role  .  The dialogue from this play "Kusum Lata nein bataa kheytaa " is still popular in Kashmiri households. . This play was also produced for  DDK, Srinagar by Ashok Jailkhani wherein another talented actor  H. N .Gurtoo performed an equally  impressive role. Dastaar was again done for DD1 channel with Shadi Lal  in the lead role.

Shadi Lal was a friend and a  well-wisher. He was simple  and easy to deal with.Never have I heard him speaking ill of any person. Did he ever get angry? I haven't seen it. There was hardly any function in our family  which he did not join. Along with Makhan Lal Saraf, I brought him to the literary  'Baithaks' initiated by Narinder Safaya  in Jammu  . He fully   enjoyed these  literary gatherings .

( L to R.. Ravinder Kaul, IB Zutshi, Dr Kashi Nath Pandita, Avtar Mota, Prof.Arvind Gigoo, Dr Agnishekhar and Shadi Kaul.. January,2020)

I knew what he was  going through for the last three years. Whenever we met, he remained cheerful.I would ask  him:-

" How are you feeling now?"

" Bilkul fit. Doctors have told it is just a very small issue that can be tackled with medicines ."

As he went through the painful chemotherapy cycles,  he did everything to look normal  never losing his smile.

    Shadi Lal Kaul was a versatile actor of Kashmiri comedy. A Mehmood, Jagdeep and Kesto Mukherjee all in one.     

 This man who brought  smiles to many faces had his own share of pain and suffering. Destiny snatched his darling child who fell victim to the dreaded  Cancer. Shadi Lal would  break down and turn serious even at the slightest mention of this painful episode of his life.

Peace be to your soul dear friend. You will be missed. Your smile and humour will be missed. It shall take us  time to accept the reality that you are not around.

I end this tribute with a quatrain ( Qitta ) of  Ali Sardar Jafri.

“Zindagaani ne diya hai ye mujhe hukm ki Tu
Shab e Tareeq ke daaman mein sitaare bhar De
Phoonk de Jamaa hai Jitnaa Khas o khashak e Nifaaq
Qalb e Insaan mein Mohabbat Ke sharaare bhar De"
( Ali sardar jafri )

" Life has decreed upon me
That I should ,
Decorate the hem of the dark night with shining stars ,
Blow away all that lies heaped with us
As rubbish of disagreement and hate;
And then ,
Fill every human heart
With bright sparks of Love "

(Avtar Mota)
see this also

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