Thursday, March 5, 2015


 ( Photo Actor Pran in his role as Pathan Sher Khan. A still from 1973 Blockbuster Zanjeer )



We saw him in films as a helpful human being,  always ready to side with the truth and honesty. Quite often a  tough money lender who would come outside the factory premises to collect his dues on the salary day of the workers. We saw him selling  Kishmish ( dried grapes ), almonds, apricots, figs and other dry fruits. He could be seen in the streets of our cities selling his on the spot prepared herbal tonic for youth and vitality. We called him Khan Chacha, Pathaan  Bhai or Biraadar. We grew up believing that he came from Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad and  Herat with his bag of dry fruits. He could not be bullied. A man of tough appearance  who always wore his national dress,  a Salwar, a long shirt and a Tora headgear with a long end hanging down the back and  a heavy
Paizaar ( leather sandal ) in his feet.

When actor Pran portrayed him in some memorable roles, he became a part of the Indian psyche. Khonchay, Biraadar, Khan, Lale ki Jaan, Pathan Biraadar and so many words were associated with him. Even Gurudev  Tagore was touched by his simplicity and adherence to the truth. Tagore wrote the moving story ‘Cabulliwala’  with a  Pathan as its central character.

I vividly remember the language used by the Pathan herbal tonic seller. In Srinagar city,  he would be seen near Broca Press, Lal Chowk or on the pavement close to Naaz cinema at  Hazuri Bagh. Quite often we saw him near Jahangir Chowk in  Srinagar city.  He would always engage a local man as his helper for crushing dry fruits and seeds from the bottles that were spread in a semicircular manner on the pavement.  He had his skill and style to attract attention. It could be his loud voice or a Damroo. Once he found a small gathering around him, he would start with his verbal marketing skills to sell the tonic that was under preparation. It was a cure-all and treat all stuff that was primarily marketed as an aphrodisiac.


Many amongst us must have heard his crowd communication or watched his footpath marketing skills. Here is a sample    :

‘ Meharbaan qadardaan.Yeh *Maajoon e shabaab hai. Jawaani ki galti ka ilaaj hai. Jawaani ka taaqat hai .Yeh ilaaj e kam-naseebi hai .Iss ka maafiq dawa kissi mamaaliq mein na hai na milega. Firangi ki dawa khao ek beemari ka ilaaj karo aur duss mein mubtila ho jao.Yeh tibb hai.Yeh yunani ilam ka kamaal hai.Yeh rooh ka gizaa hai. Khan dawa ke sathh dua mein yakeen rakhtaa hai.Dawa lo maaliq shifa ataa karegaa.Yakeenan.Iss ko buzurg baap ko do, chhota bhai ko do, bachaa ko do , dost ko do , dushman ko do aur sab ka dua lo. Khan ko yaad karna. Ho khwaja ! Aey pandit ji !Mera sardar bhai ! Khabadaar !Hujoom mein khan ka dushman jeib katraa bhi hai. Tavajju idhar magar haathh jeib par. Biraadar khabardaar! Biraadar hoshiyaar !

“ My kindhearted fellows! My worthy fellows! This is a medicine for the youth.  This is a cure for the wrongdoings of the youth. This is the power for the youth. This is a treatment for those with poor luck. No country has such like medicine nor can one get medicine like this anywhere in the world. Should you consume western medicines, then treat one ailment and get ten more in return. This is science. This is a wonder of  Unani (Greek )knowledge. This is a diet for the soul. Apart from medicine, Khan believes in prayers also. Take my medicine, God shall grant you the needed cure. Rest assured .Give it to the elderly father . Give it to the younger brother. Give it to the children .Give it to your friend . Give it to your foe. Take everyone’s good wishes. Remember Khan. Hey, you Khwaja Sahib! Hey, you Pandit Ji! Hey,  my brother Sardar Ji! Careful! In this crowd, Khan has a rival, the pickpocket. Keep your ears to what Khan says but keep your hands on your pocket. Brother,  be  careful  and cautious 


“ Khan pather me shigaaf se nahin nikla. Khan ka maa hai. Khan ka biwi hai . Khan ka bacha hai . Khan ayaal mein rehta hai. Khan tabardaar hai. Sab amraaz ka ilaaj karega. Yukk zenaana yukk mardaana ka beemari majlis mein bataane laayak nahin. Aissa beemari par pardaa nahin rakhna .Ilaaj karna zaroori . Khan bil khasoosan aissa beemari ka ilaaj karega. Apna kashmiri bhai koyee khaas baat karega . Apnaa kashmiri bhai koyee khaas ilaaj karega . Khan dawai bech kar yukk ba yukk sunnega. Maalik shifa bakshegaa. Yukk ,dho ,teen din mein dawai ka assar aayegaa. Abhi bolegaa to hawa mein . Baad mein bolega to khan ki jaan ko .”

“ Khan was not born out of a crack in some rock. Khan has a mother. Khan has a wife. Khan has his children. Khan lives in a family. Khan is a family man..Khan will cure every ailment. Many a  man, many a woman may have ailments not worth mentioning here in open. But don’t hide such ailments. Get these ailments treated. Khan will specifically treat such ailments.  Kashmiri brothers can talk to khan privately for such ailments. After selling the medicine, khan will attend to these secret ailments. God will grant a cure. First, second and then the third day, you will notice the effect of my medicine. At this moment, you may curse khan but later on, all your good wishes will be for khan. ”


‘Yukk chakkar lagaigaa mera aziz haathh uthaayega.Khan sab ko dawa de ke jaayega.Aaj paan nahin nosh kiya. Aaj cigarette ka zahar nahin liya. Aaj koyee nashaa nahin kiya .Pilastik ka dibba mein dega. Chaandi ka varaq laga ke degaa. Dua kartaa khuda shifa ataa karay.Ek baar lega baar baar lega.Rukh par gul e anaar ka lal rang aayega. Baal sau  saal tak kaala rahega. Puraana nazla ka keeda yukk chheenk se zameen par khalaas. Khoon ko sheesha ke maafiq saaf karega. Meharbaan!  Qadardaan!’

‘ Let me make a round. My valued guests, please raise your hands. Khan will give medicine to all intending buyers. Buy it. Think you have not consumed the Paan ( betel leaf ) today. Think you have not spent money on cigarettes today. Think you have not gone for any intoxicant today. Khan will give this medicine in a plastic box. Khan will give it covered in a silver foil. Khan will pray for your cure. Those who buy once will keep buying it again and again.  Like the pomegranate flower,  it will give a red glow to your face. Your hair shall remain dark black even when you are a hundred years old. The age-old influenza germ shall fall to dust with one sneeze. Your blood shall become crystal clear and pure. My kindhearted  and  worthy fellows .’

Where has this friendly face gone?   How did he disappear suddenly from Kashmir and other Cities?

( Avtar Mota )


 Majoon is an old aphrodisiac in Unani system of medicine. Alice Albinia in her book "Empires of the Indus" writes :

 "The Hakim in his resonant Pashto explained that Maajoon is prepared from testicles of the water hog, deer's navel, intestines of a baby camel, sparrow's brain, lapis lazuli, silver leaf, ground seed pearls, sandfish, pomegranate oil, honey, a pinch of gold dust, dry figs and intoxicants. The Hakim's forefathers had been making Maajoon since the time of emperor Babur."

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