Monday, December 29, 2014


( Photo Autar Mota )
To this photo , I am adding a Nazm ( Poem )  "kashmir " that I wrote today .

( kashmir  )

Aey Kashmir !
Aey Khaaq e Wattan !
Jab Jab Teri Dharti ko,
Yeh Paanv Meray Chhu leitay hain,
Yuun Lagtaa hai ,
Jaisay Shaam Ko Ghar Aane Par ,
Beta Darwaaza Kholay , .........
....Chilaaye ,
“ Aa Gaye Papa! Aa Gaye Papa !”
Jaisay Beti Agal Bagal se Lipatt lipatt kar,
Goadh Mein Baithay ,
Unglii pakdey,
Baar Baar Ek Rutt Mein Bolay ,
“ Meray Papa ! Meray Papa !”
Jaisay Maa Kamray mein Baithee,
Meri Aahat Bhaanp le chupp chupp ,
Ramaayan se Dhyaan Hataa kar ,
Dheemay Bolay,
“ Aa Gaye Beta ? “
Jaisay Babu Ji Urdu Akhbaar ko Pa kar ,
Haathh Meray sir Par Phereinay ,
Aur Keh dein,
“ Teri Aasha Jeevan Dhan Hai “
Aur Rasoii se koyee Niklay,
Sir Par Phir Aanchal ko Sanbhaale,
Munn Ki Khiltii Kali Chhupaa kar ,
Dhabi Dhabi Awaaz mein Bolay
“ Chaay Banaa Duun ?“
( Autar Mota 27.12.2014 )

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Thursday, December 25, 2014



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 Qalandhar 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." 


Sayyed Qaiser Qalandhar (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 . 

(This photograph  was clicked in  1943 at S P College Srinagar during annual Drama function .  Qaiser Qalandhar ( Standing  in second row from L to R last person) and Pran Kishore  ( Sitting in  chair  third person  from L to R ) also acted in the college play NEELAM  performed   in 1943. )

Qaiser Qalandhar 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 Quaiser  Qalandhar ) 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 .

1) Vesiye Gulan Aawaye Bahaar Az Saal Auntan Baalyaar( Poet Maqbool Shah Qraalwari )…By Naseem Begum who was from Jammu but resided in Kashmir .
2) Vesiye Gulan Aawaye Bahaar Az Saal Auntan Baalyaar (Poet Maqbool Shah Qraalwari ).. By Raj Begum.
3) Mashraavthhuss Janaan Tche kar yaad Pyamaai Baa ( Poet Rasa Javidaani )
4) 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 Qalandhar 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."
( Source......

I end this brief post with lines from a Gazal of Qaiser Qalandhar ...

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 )

Wednesday, December 24, 2014



( Photograph of Kashmiri Opera VITASTA performed by Artists from J&K state at New Delhi in February 1977 )

In Germany,opera lost its   spark and lure    after the death of Richard Wagner ( 1813-1883). Wagner revolutionized Opera production by combining   Music , Drama, poetry and  German Mythology .Wagner would always say

“ I write music with an exclamation point ! And I believe  imagination  creates  reality .”

So Did Poet Dina Nath Naadim do  to Kashmiri Opera. I rate Naadim Sahib’s  Bombur Ta Yemberzal ( The Bumble Bee and the Narcissus flower ) And  Vitasta ( river Jhelum ) at par with Wagner’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen or  The Ring of Nibelungen .

In the field of Operas , None like Wagner in Germany after his death and  And no one   in kashmir after Naadim sahib .

 Naadim wrote VITASTA in 1965 for  Radio Kashmir Srinagar . J&K Academy of Art Culture and languages decided to play it on stage sometime around 1976-1977. Much was required to be done in terms of Costumes , Music , Dance , Direction and Artists. Too much was done by Varinder Mohan ( Music Director ), Pran Kishore ( Director ) , Noted Poet Painter   Ghulam  Rasool  Santosh, Choreographer Bansi Dogra, Artists drawn from all the three regions of the state ,singers from valley and Dancers from Delhi. I need to make special mention of Poet , Painter G R Santosh who used his creative mind and reverted to Neelmata purana and Rajataringini to have an idea of the dress of Nagas , Pishatchas of Kashmir.The Director  / Costume Designer is   reported to have also  seen the  Stone sculpture of Nagarjuna at Nalandha for this purpose . Nagarjuna has a strong connection with ancient Kashmir. Santosh sahib designed the crown of Prince wular that looked like a water chestnut or   of Wular lake .The play was staged in Auditorium of All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society New Delhi in February 1977. The packed to capacity audience inside the hall   gave the Artists especially  Gulafroz and  Makhan Lal saraf a standing ovation . So wrote some  National News papers about this Opera ..

“The opera presented by The troupe from Kashmir was a real treat served with vibrant music , Dance and flowing poetry. This opera has left an indelible mark in the minds of the entire audience  . special mention needs to be made about the performance of Artists and singers . Gulafroz comes up as an attractive queen in the opera .Makhan Lal saraf also regaled the audience  with  acting and his Royal style  . A  superb combination of Indian , kashmiri and western musical instrument  enabled to create a  melody that retained its native lustre.”
  wrote Statesman..

“ Marvelous poetry , Superb folk  music , Wonderful choreography , colourful costumes and talented acting transported the audience to some other world . The lighting  arrangements were adequately synchronized with action on stage.”

wrote Times of India..

Vyethh Maar Maenz Khaetch Praathh Akiss Taarey
Raaza Taa Baadshaah Thhaavith Goash

*Lalitaditt Beyi *Badshah Gaarey 

Yethh Reishi Vaarie Vitasta Raatchh..

( Dina Nath Naadim  From Opera Vitasta )

Gorgeous Vitasta turned out to be Darling of Every one over here,
Even the kings and the Sultans flourished under her poise .
Singing glory of lalitaditya and Badshah ,
O Vitasta ! You are the Guardian of this land of Rishis …

( Autar Mota )

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014


                               ( wedding Procession if Maharaja Hari singh Of jammu )

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(Behind Sai Baba Mandir),
New Delhi - 110003
+(91)-11-24626467, 24658793, 24654196, 24698417
( Book Reference ISBN:81-263-0886-9 )
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Padma Sachdev ( Born 1940 ) hardly needs any introduction. She has established herself as a frontline Dogri Poetess, novelist and writer . She is equally well known amongst Hindi readers for her poems and Novels . This book has been published by “ Bhartiya Gyanpeeth ” as a Hindi Novel . I was attracted and tempted to read entire Novel after going through some pages initially . Dedicated to Hindi writer late Kamleshwar , the book is spread over 218 pages .Padma Ji pays due tributes to late Dharmveer Bharti noted Hindi poet , who encouraged her to write this semi autobiographical novel. It is a story of Post partition evolution of Jammu city .
The author is careful about not touching any political personality except Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad. I believe this is due to some personal reasons and a sort of debt that was due to him from her side .
Padma ji considered late Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad as her guide and a fatherly figure . Bakshi felt highly impressed after he heard Padma ji at a Mushaira in Jammu where she recited her poem “Raaje diyaan Mandiyaan.” . It is a remarkable poem that voices the feelings of the oppressed and the exploited poor, symbolized by an old woman. It also expresses deep anguish against the inhumanity and insensitivity of the powerful and the ruling class. Bakshi later ensured that she got best medical treatment when she was admitted to Chest Diseases Hospital at Srinagar ( Droggjan Dalgate) for Tuberculosis . At that hospital, Padma Ji stayed for abut three years and during this period , she came very close to Kashmiri language ,culture and social customs. She also learnt to speak Kashmiri language .
Later , After her divorce / separation from Ved Pal Deep, modern Dogri poet and editor of the Urdu newspaper Sandesh , Padma ji decided to move to Delhi . It was again through Bakshi Ghulam Mohammd’s intervention  that she got herself transferred to AIR , Delhi. She was already working as announcer in Radio Kashmir Jammu.

Using Suggi ( a widow from a family of barbers to Dogra Maharajas ) as protagonist , Padma ji takes you on trip of Jammu city right from her childhood days till sometime around 1994-95 . In this journey , you visit Panjtirthi locality where Padma ji spent her childhood after her family shifted from Purmandal .You come across the steep foot paths ( Dakkis ) leading to river Tawi . These paths would become live everyday early in the morning darkness as men and women went to river Tawi for bathing . You visit the narrow lanes and clean mud houses with courtyards that were made dirt free using cow dung spread . Wonderfully descriptive scenes have been created around Suggi’s house ; tinkling of bells at Mahalakshmi Temple of Pucca Danga , Jangam Babas at Peer Kho Temple on Tawi bank , Daunthali Bazaar , Purani Mandi , Kachchi Chhawani , Maniyaari shops , warm kitchens with timber burnt for cooking food , the smoked utensils , Chapattis , Daal , Karhi Chaawal , Kachaaloo ,home made mango pickle , morning Desi tea with sugar and a pinch of salt , Khameer , eating juicy Kimbbs , elders with Hookah , Pateesa , Darbar Move , walnut tree bark used as Daatun and many more easily identifiable lifestyle images of Jammu city’s past .
Every morning Gujjar women ( with heavy silver anklets ) ,living in hills adjoining the city , walk through steep paths ( Dakkis in Local parlance ) to bring Milk to the city . They sit and gossip in a confident and carefree manner with the Shah ( shopkeeper ) . This scene is almost extinct now as milk is ferried to city by male Gujjars in motor vehicles through roads that connect their houses with Jammu city .
As you move through the pages , you find women in tight Churridaar Pyjamas ( Suthhan ) singing: ……..
Pal pal Beyi Jaana Ho Jindhe
Raati Reyi Jaana Ho Jindhe
( Love sit for a while over here too
Love stay for a night over here too )
Women prefer to sit in groups after they finish their work . While sitting , each women is busy in some kind of work that could be knitting or needle work . Away from their mothers in law , young women giggle when some married girl joins to say:
“ Breikurr gilli bii Balley
Suss gareeban be larre “
(The Breikurr shrub burns even if it is wet ,
And the mother in law quarrels even if she is poor )
After they finish the kitchen work , women busy themselves with Charkhaa and keep singing in low tone …
Ladli na Rakh Baawala
Teri Ladali De Din Thhoday
Laadli Me Iyaan Rakhii Ye
Jiyaan kaagdhe De Vich sunna
“ Father don’t pamper your daughter
She has a brief stay in your house “
“ I have kept my darling daughter
Like we keep precious gold inside paper ”
“ Chambe diye Daahladiye Moiye Bindh Duaas ni ho
Kal Unney aayii Ponaa Khirri Khirri Banii Banii Po ”
“ O You like a branch laden with Champa flowers , Do not turn to sorrow,
Dress up and Sit like a blooming flower , Tomorrow he shall be arriving .”
Suggi is witness to the painful events of 1947 and the arrival of refugees from Mirpur , Rajouri , Bhimber and other adjoining areas to Jammu city . Her memory is stored with many tragic events of 1947 when man turned a beast . She also narrates with pride as to how some persons still retained sanity when people behaved as lunatics . For her ,Pakistan was created out of pain and suffering resulting from killing of many innocent people across both sides of the border . She misses Sialkot where some of her childhood friends and neighbours migrated . She is sympathetic to refugees who arrived from POK and also misses her Muslim neighbours who left for Pakistan.
Unfortunately , Padma Sachdev also lost her father , Sanskrit scholar, professor Jai Dev Barru in the communal frenzy of 1947.
Pandit Sansar chand Baru ( painter ), Poet Kishen Smailpuri , Poet Dinu Bhai Pant, Malika Pukhraj,Maharaja Partap Singh , Maharaja Hari Singh and Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad as prime Minister also find mention in the novel. In fact Suggi goes to the official residence of Bakshi Ghulam amma in Jammu when she is driven out from a custodian house by government officials . She motivates Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad to come to her house in a jeep and take on the spot decision . While Bakshi drives the jeep personally , Suggi sits in the front seat smilingly . To the surprise of her foes , Bakshi does justice in his own style to poor Suggi . He allots a custodian House to her during this visit .People gather to see the prime minister coming to meet a poor destitute woman. While Bakshi delivers justice , a person amongst the onlookers keeps singing:
“Bhaley Bhaley Ki sidhaa kardaa
Aey Bakshi Da Dandaa “
“ Who is there who has not been set right
By Bakshi ‘s hand held stick ?“
Other characters of this novel that are worth mentioning are , Nainto ,Raano, Pant ji , Soma Panditaayan , Sainti, Laajo and Shardul Singh ( servant from the Wazir family ) . Shardul Singh is a liquor addict. Shardul Singh’s Sahib from the Wazir family is fond of Kalaaris made from milk and he prefers to have them with his daily quota of liquor .With this Wazir family , Suggi goes on a pilgrimage to Pashupati Nath Temple of Nepal.
Soma Panditaayan is her childhood friend . Her husband , Pandt Dev Datt is a respected Brahmin who is always busy performing marriages , Mundans , Yagneopavit functions , Shradaas and other religious rituals for various families in Jammu city. Soma fondly calls him Pant ji ( Pandit ji ). Pant ji never misses his early morning bath even during intense winter season when he uses a Kangri to warm up his body. Without fail, Pant ji does his morning Thakurdwara ( Pooja room or Thokur Kuth in kashmiri ) Pooja before starting his daily routine work. He must also have his glass of milk everyday after his Thakurdwara Pooja . Soma puts three or four water soaked almond kernels in this milk .Pandit Dev Datt is a Shaivite who worships Parthav Shiva with milk , water and Bheil patter . The husband and wife live a happy and contended life. Suggi is a frequent visitor to Pandit Dev Datt's house .
And then Suggi remembers how she would join Bhaakkaan singers from adjoining hills of Jammu city who flocked to Amar Palace on Maharaja Hari Singh’s birthday . These women would squat in groups in the outer lawns for their day long singing of Pahaari songs . Gifts and food would be distributed to them by the members of the royal family . They sang so many songs like:
‘Chunn Maahrra Chadeyaa te pahaarraa aahli Kingri
Sajjane Ki Pyaar denaa Nuthh karrey Khingri
Milnaa Zaroor Meri jaan ho ”
“ My Moon faced beloved has gone up a mountain top ,
Keeping my Nose ring aside ,
I shall offer him my love
My love! I shall meet you for sure . “
How painful for Suggi to know that Maharaja was an exile who lived in Mumbai with his ADC Capt. Diwan singh and some trusted Servants .The royal status of Wazir and Katoch families of Jammu had also declined with the departure of Maharaja Hari Singh . Some one makes her believe that even during Maharaja’s rule , Dogras were poor and unemployed as Maharaja Partap Singh and even Maharaja Hari Singh preferred outsiders to fill various posts in administration. A woman quotes Poet Dinu Bhai Pant to support this point of view..
Lok Mheene Maardhey Dogre da Raaj Ho
Dogre da Bhaag Dikho Jurrdaa Ni Saag Ho
( People comment satirically that Dogras rule the state
And look how unlucky Dogras can’t even afford green vegetables )
And Jammu kept changing . People who were satisfied with Daal ,Chappati , Achaar , Lassi , Madra , Kachori ,Annardaana, Rajmaah shifted to Cold Drinks , Lipton Tea, Chicken, Ice creams, sweets , kitty parties and LPG cylinders in their kitchens . With development and newer employment avenues , People from many towns start pouring in and settling in Jammu city . Jammu gets ample connectivity and expands in all directions . With new concrete residential buildings ,newer colonies and people pouring in regularly , the city feels pressure on its resources . Suggi is privy to these rapid changes .
And then in 1990 ,Suggi witnesses once more something like 1947 events . Terrorized by armed militants, Kashmiri Pandits run for safety and arrive in Jammu city. They take shelter in temples , vacant semi finished buildings , tents and anywhere and everywhere they find a cover for their hapless families . Young children , women and elders crowd in a single room , face many odds and to survive , men from the community take up any offer of employment that comes their way .They live in hell but keep dreaming of the heaven they left behind.

   ( Padma Sachdev sitting with Chitra Singh , Others in the picture are Poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz , Alys Faiz ,Ali Sardar Jafri, Lata Mangeshkar , Rajinder Singh Bedi )

The protagonist of the novel is amazed at the resilience of this community and feels that no curse is bigger than leaving one’s motherland .
Suggi tells Soma Panditayan:
“ Look Soma , Women may pass time in banishment as they get busy with other household affairs but men suffer too much while living in exile . These Pandits used to spread education all over . Now look how these poor fellows do all type of odd jobs. I curse this government . Bring two families over here . Those two rooms are locked since long in our locality . I shall break open the locks. Let two Pandit families stay over here .Bring Sarvanand Koul’s family here . If nothing is possible , I shall share one room in this custodian house with that family . One room is sufficient for me ."
Unable to come to terms with rapid changes taking place around her , Just before her death , Suggi tells Rano :
“This city does not reflect the Dogra culture any more . People neither speak Dogri language nor eat Dogra food. No one dresses like a Dogra any more .The potter who made Suraahi type pitchers is dead .No women wears a Suthhan ( a long but tight salwar worn by ladies ). When parents do not speak Dogri , how can children speak Rano Ji . Dogras think that they have come from England . They feel proud in teaching English to their children as a language of communication within their families and homes ."
On her death bed , Suggi tells Parsino , her daughter in law :
" Look Parsino , river Tawi is more sacred than Ganga or Yamuna .Let me have a bath in Tawi before I die . Can't Nathi ( Parsino's husband ) carry me on his back ? I want to see hills of Mata Vaishno Devi . I shall send my Pranaams to Mata Rani. Parsino , Listen carefully , Soma is my childhood friend . Respect her in my absence .During my death rituals , ensure that all women wear Dogra Dress. you should wear a Suthhan . I shall be watching everything from the sky over your head. I may become a ghost if you do not act on my words ."

And inspite of her love for Dogra culture and language , Suggi is open towards accepting changes that are sweeping her Jammu . In fact she has learnt and adopted many things after her personal interaction with Punjabis , Mirpuris and Kashmiris living in Jammu city . She likes Kashmiri Kahwa tea and crisp Baakir-khaanis . She has a Kashmiri Raffal Dussa that she uses sparingly.

And Jammu finally turns a crucible of many cultures and civilization ;A true symbol of Unity in diversity …..

I conclude this post with a couplet of Poet Firaq …

Sar Zameen e Hind pe aqwaame aalum ke Firaq
Kaafile bastay Gaye hindustaan Banataa Gayaa”

I recommend this book to every lover of literature . culture and tradition.
( Avtar Mota

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Saturday, December 13, 2014




( Photo Courtesy Sh.Dalip Langoo . This photo was clicked in 1988 by Dr Rahul Kaul nephew of Sh.Pran Kishore ( Radio Kashmir Srinagar )

When my sister’s Mother in law heard that a marriage had to be solemnized in our family , she suggested that we should engage noted Kashmiri folk ( Chhakri ) singer Ali Mohd Sheikh ( 1916-2006 ) for Mehndiraat function . She was a great admirer of Ali Mohd Sheikh. It was  early November 1989 and armed militancy had arrived in kashmir valley . Uncertainty , fear and panic had become a part of the day to day routine. Marriages were brief devoid of celebration and merriment . We had no option but to go for a Mehndiraat function without the usual folk singers . Ali Mohd Sheikh could not be invited for obvious reasons. I personally missed the traditional dance , Music and Chhakri that kashmiris usually have on Mehndiraat functions.
Ali Mohd sheikh was a master of *Chhakri style of kashmiri folk singing . A Sangeet Natak Academy awardee , he had travelled to many places in India and abroad ( Tajikistan , USA ,Japan and some Latin American countries ) popularizing Chhakri style of kashmiri singing . Sheikh had also mesmerized the audience by his singing in Festival Of Asian arts at Hongkong held in 1988. About this Festival, Music composer Dalip Langoo Adds,
“Ustad Ali Mohd Sheikh not only performed there as a folk singer from Kashmir but he also performed in a small dance drama sequence created by Noted Composer Krishan Langoo ji. He acted as Moulvi sahib before a huge gathering at one of the prestigious shows held in Hong Kong. ”

Sheikh also sang for the Radio and Television creating two generations of admirers .
Ali Mohd Sheikh was born and brought up in village Hajjin falling in North Kashmir. And such singers do not sing songs alone ; They are the torch bearers who spread culture and heritage through music .
As person , he was simple and focused . Flaunting a serious appearance , sheikh generally wore elegant white or off white Shalwar kameez , waist coat and a cap ( Central Asian Karakulli type ). 
He had his own group of accompanying musicians and did regular Riyaz creating New Melodies and Rhythms .He would mostly sing Sufi poets like Ahad Zargar , Sochhi Kraal , Samad Mir, Wahab Khaar and Shams Faqeer .

I must have heard eight or nine compositions of Ali Mohd Sheikh and party . Every composition done to perfection . Perfection in selecting the Kalaam ( poetry ), perfection in handling and lacing the words with music and perfection in delivery . I have seen him playing Harmonium and Sarangi .
To my readers I would suggest listening just three composition of this Grand master . Even One is enough to establish his versatility .
Faqeeri Kaabaah O Mehraab Chhumayii
Faqeeri Taabavunn Aftaab Chhumayii...
faqeeri Misl e Gulshan Aaav Fael Fael
Faqeeri Runga Rungayii Jaama Vallie Vallie
Faqeeri Dard Poshan Mushq e Amber
Faqeeri Vasl Sheeshan Assaluquyii Moi......
Faqeeri Meemun Doann Munz basithh Haayii
fareeqi Jalwa Maaraan Andhera Neiburr
Fareeqi "Ahad Zargar " Chhuyii Tche Barsurr ."
“ Akh Tche ta Beyii Ba ganzar Ma Baa
Ha Baa Yi Chhuyii Gumaanaai ”
“Gaah Gaah Me Trovmayee Khyon Ta Tchonuyii
Kaansi Vonuyii No
Taem Paan Awezaan Tchhunuiyii
Kaansi Vonuyii No”
I also heard him sing " Suyii Doadh Chhumm Jigaruss " Vaav Baerr Zulfi Khumm Baliye " , "shaam sondarrun bara karrnuss ta lo lo -kaamdeevus ha logg par-muss ta lo lo “ , Grayii Maaraan Kunn Doorun Lo Lo” , “ Chhakhayii Hooro Pari Dilbar Dilbari “ “ Rinda Poshmaal Gindanay Draayii Lo Lo “ and “ Valo Maa Tchull Ba Maaraai Paan “
Any person who has listened to his rendering of “ Faqeeri Kabaah O Mehraab Chhumaai ” need not listen more of his singing so as to call him the greatest exponent of Chhakri Style of kashmiri Folk singing .

  ( Faqeeri by Ali Mohammed Sheikh)
             ( Hatai veis  song by Ali Mohammed Sheikh)             
Unknown to many of his admirers , Sheikh had an insightful knowledge of kashmiri sufiana singing as well .I have seen him delivering some brief but soulful lines for his audience in pure kashmiri sufiana style . I quote two lines that he sang in a function at Tourist Reception Centre Srinagar long back ….
"Boazu Myaan Zaar - Zaaray e Paar _ Awaara Kar Thuss . "
"Listen my woes - Listen my pleas . I am undone and roaming aimlessly in love”
( Avtar Mota )



*CHHAKRI style of singing is believed to have originated from SHAKTRI ( Chorus singing by Aryans after a Yagya ) ) mentioned in RIGVEDA . It is a form of chorus or group singing by males with Matka ( Noatt ) , Rabaab , Tumbaknaari , Sarangi as accompanying instruments . Harmonium is a later addition to Chhakri singing .The lead singer sits in the centre with others surrounding him. Rajatangini also makes mention of a stylized singing in Kashmir wherein metal utensils were used . So powerful and foot tapping are the beats of this style of singing that every listener is tempted to stand up and dance in musical rhythm. It is a popular form of folk  singing  that is  put to practice during weddings and other functions by Muslims and Pandits from Kashmir valley  .

The Hong kong event of 1988  was wonderfully conceptualized , designed and executed by Pran Kishore ( Radio Kashmir ) And composer Krishan Ji Langoo .Two DVDs loaded with recording of this Gala Musical event were given to me by Krishan Ji Langoo and these remain as a precious Gift with me .
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Monday, December 8, 2014



 (Photo by Sandeep Mota September 2014 )

 To this photograph , i am adding a Dohaa composed by me today..

Ghaas Ki Jhoparr mein Muskaaye 
Sukh Sapna sansaar ..
Raj-Mahal ko soona kar Gayee 
Birhaa Ki Eik Maar...
( Autar Mota )

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FIRAQ  GORAKHPURI ( 1896-1982 )


Firaq has used two words  in some  his Gazals that he wrote  . These words are Khastagi ( Brittleness ) and Munn-Chalan ( something close to haughtiness ) . Many writers who knew him, saw him and were friendly to him , commented that contrary to popular beliefs , Firaq was soft , tender and as transparent as Glass . That made him brittle as well.
Firaq was also a little puffed-up personality . Death of his children and a failed marriage made him lonely . It brought enormous pain in Firaq's life And Firaq had no one close to him to share this grief .

Logon ki samajh mein aa na sakaa kuchh mujh ko bhi hai taajub sa
Sunn meri udaasi ka kaaran aey humdum bahut akela huun 

( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

 All these things apart , he had a very high opinion about his poetry and his style. And this opinion also extended to his English ,a language that he taught at Allahabad university. He is reported to have once said ,
“ Only three people in India know correct English .They are Dr S Radhakrishnan , Pandit Nehru and Firaq ”.
In fact he had said that only  two and half persons know correct English In India . Nehru, he had put in the half . This statement was later modified to Three.
What I say is supported by his one couplet as well.

Aaney  wali naslain tum par fakr kareingi Hum-asron
Jab inn ko Maaloom Yeh Hogaa tum ne Firaq ko dekhaa thaa

(The generations to come will envy you, compatriots, 
When they will realize that you had seen Firaq.)

Like Faiz ,Firaq too has a passionate engagement with humanity at large . Due to his strong commitment to Marxism,quite often, Faiz comes up as a spokesperson of the downtrodden . 
Firaq has nothing to do with Marxism . But then he is equally enchanting when he talks about people in night long wait for some one to turn up or about people managing their existence in suffering , pain , loneliness and separation . A sample of Firaq’s style to substantiate my point of view could be …..

Zabt Keejiye to dil hai angaara 
Aur Agar Roiiye to paaani hai 

( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Raat aadhi se Ziyaada gayee Thhii Saara aalum sotaa Thhaa 
Naam Teraa Le le kar Koyee Dard ka maara Rotaa Thhaa……
Taaray Aksar Doob Chalay Thhay , Raat ke ronay vaalon ko 
Aanay Lagii Thhi Neend sii Kuchh Duniyaa mein savera Hotaa Thhaa….
Uss ke aansoo Kis ne Dekhe Uss ki Aahein Kis ne sunii
Chaman Chaman Thhaa Husn Bhi Lekin Dariyaa Dariyaa Rotaa Thhaa …. 
( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Ab Aksar Chupp Chupp se rahain hain 
Yuun Hi Kabhuu Lub Kholain Hain...
Pehlay "Firaq" Ko Dekha Hotaa 
Ab To Bahut Kam Bolay Hain...
Gham Ka fasaana sunanay vaalon 
Aakhir e Shab aaraam karo,
Kal Yeh Kahaani Phir Chhedeingay 
Hum Bhi Zaraa Ab So Le hain...
( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Raghupati Sahai “Firaq “ Gorakhpuri was an excellent conversationalist. He could speak extempore for hours on Dante , Kierkegaard , Shakespeare , Tulsi Das ,Kabir , Tagore , Ghalib , Kalidas , Rumi or Hafiz and then switch over to weird topics like variety of snakes and frogs in Indian Jungles . His personal cook , Gardner , Washer Man , Hair cutter and Tailor had to listen to his ideas on issues that fell under their jurisdiction . Sometimes he could be seen giving long lectures to his cook as to How he should cook “Baingan Ka Burthhaa “. His Dhobi was regularly counseled about the technique of ironing different clothes or washing these on Ganga Ghaat at Allahabad .

Firaq was known for his direct and unwrapped views . To progressive writers , who were mostly influenced by communist ideology , Firaq once said ,

“ You must also be conscious of present possibilities and the bright hopes that it throws up for world around us . Do not get trapped into the question of believing or Not believing in God. Accept all the wisdom that was passed on to us by Rig Veda, Tennyson , Tolstoy, Tagore , Ghalib and many more . Without consciousness of this Grand heritage , No Progressive literature can be created .”

It was Firaq who had recommended the name of Josh Malihabaadi as editor of Urdu Magazine AAJKAL published by Government of India . Firaq was made chairman of the appointment committee by Pandit Jawahar lal Nehru .When some Bureaucrats objected to this appointment , Firaq told Pandit ji
“ What do these Bengali , Gujrati and Madrasi officers know about Urdu . If their views were also to be taken into account , what need arose to bring me as the Chairman of the appointment committee.”
Pandti Ji had to abide by Firaq’s recommendations .

Mehboob woh ke sar se qadam tak khuloos ho,
Aashiq vahii ke husn se kuchh badgumaan bhi ho..
(Firaq Gorakhpuri )

 I am tempted to agree with firaq that any person under the sun can give unending discourse on Literature ,Art , Morality and Religion. The listener is equally tempted to peep into the personality of the orator , analyze and evaluate him under the scanner of self practice . Mere oration does not make any person Great . Firaq informs …

Aadami ka Aadami honaa nahin Aasaan Firaq ,
Ilm o Fun Ikhlaaq o Mazhab Jis se Chaaho Poochh Lo …
( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Firaq believed that Death is approachable and touchable . For him , there is some positivity about Death .This positivity he finds missing in Existence that slays man day in and day out .  According to Firaq ,this demon of existence has no cure . It is not reachable or touchable. I quote Firaq …

Maut Ka Bhi Ilaaj Ho Shaayad
Zindagi ka Koyee Ilaaj nahin…
( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Aaj Rag Rag Mein Jaan Daurr gayee
Maut ne zindagi ko Chheirr Diyaa
( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Maut ke bhi Urray hain hosh Aksar 
Zindagi ke sharaab-Khaanon mein.
Hum ussi zindagi ke dhar pe hain 
Maut hai jis ke Paasbaanon mein
( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

And about himself he writes .....

"Raunaq e Bazm e Jahaan thhaa go Dil e Ghamgeen “ FIRAQ”
Sard thhaa , Afsurdaa thhaa ,mahroom Thhaa ,nakaam thhaa...

 (Autar Mota )

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