Thursday, June 11, 2015




“ Yes Avtar Ji I have many fond memories of the play based on Ved Rahi’s story “ AALEY “ OR “ CALLINGS “ that I performed in Lahore in 2005 before a select audience . It was a solo performance . It was based on the tragedy of partition .The play was directed by Deepak Ji, a very talented director of our theatre group.

Rangyug or my theatre group was there on an invitation from Madiha Gauhar’s AJOKA theatre . Noted theatre personality M K Raina, classical dancer Sonal Man Singh and Kewal Dhaliwal from Amritsar had also been invited . If I remember correctly , it was what they said “PANJ PAANI THEATRE FESTIVAL “ at Lahore . In fact Madiha had come to Jammu with her troupe and performed a well scripted play “ BULLA “ at Abhinav theatre. During that time , she had a detailed interaction with us at Rangyug . She also watched us perform some plays .That was the meeting point .For me , the Lahore trip remains unforgettable to this day . At the play venue in Lahore , I came to know that the audience included many Dogri speaking elders who had migrated to Pakistan from Mast Garh , Sarajaan Di Dakki and other localities of Jammu city .The nostalgia  made many eyes moist. I could feel the sighs of the audience and the satisfying thunderous applause in between while I performed . And when the play was over , the doyen of theatre in this subcontinent , Late Uzra Butt walked up to the stage and hugged me . I vividly remember her words ,

“ You did a great job Beta . It was electrifying “ 
Those words still reverberate in my ears . Liaqat Jafri Ji and Ravinder Kaul Ji also were in our troupe. Ravinder Kaul introduced us to the Pakistani audience in a very emotional style quoting Ali Sardar Jafri’s immortal lines,

“ Tum aao gulshan e Lahore se chaman bardosh ,
Hum aayein subah e Banaras ki roshini lekar , 
Himalya ki hawaaon ki taazigi lekar ,Aur oss ke baad yeh poochhein ki kaun dushamn Hai ? “ .

We gave a message of peace and brotherhood over there “                                                                   

She is Susham Sharma from Jammu . Super talented stage artist , retired banker , s housewife , a mother and a woman with deep social commitment ; but above all a grand human being . As Rajeev Bushan Sharma ( senior advocate and her husband ) passes on a cup of tea to me , Susham Ji adds ,

“ My father was serving in State’s Geology and Mining Department . I had my initial schooling from Khrew in the Kashmir valley . That is where I learnt Kashmiri . And you must have seen how fluent Rajeev is in Kashmiri . He can speak and read it as well. He studied in Kashmir and also worked in Sopore for quite some time. That way though Dogras , we belong to this  entire J&K . In fact my plays at Tagore hall Srinagar received wide appreciation from theatre lovers in  the Kashmir valley. My mother in law was also a well known drama artist of J&K. You must have heard her name ; I mean Shanti Purohit.  She was an A grade approved artist of AIR. She was contemporary of Rita Jitender and Yash Sharma Ji,  father of Seema Anil Sehgal .I have acted in so many plays , so many tele-films and also some commercial films that I really do not remember now. I also have a bad habit of not keeping everything properly recorded . I mean the photographs , newspaper cuttings , write ups on my performances and all that . "                                                        

I have watched her perform some plays on stage . Her dialogue delivery is direct ,controlled and powerful . She makes perfect body movements that are in tune with the dialogues . Her facial expressions convey the unspoken words . Those who have seen her enacting twin roles of Sujata and Lalita in Shanker Shesh’s “Raktbeej“, can never forget her memorable acting and towering stage presence . The play was staged in 1992 at Abhinav theatre, Jammu before a mammoth gathering . The play earned rave media reviews that focused essentially on her performance . This performance alone , puts her amongst top theatre artists of the country .

“ Avtar Ji , I have started my acting from Dewan Mandir Jammu like most of the artists from valley started from Shivala Temple in Srinagar .It was a sheer chance in 1969 that my elder sister Kiran Sharma was acting in a Dogri play “ Tabbar Torr “ and due to some reasons, some artist who had a prominent role in the play had not turned up . To help the troupe to come out from this unpleasant situation , I volunteered to perform her role . And from that day I said to myself ,
“ Ab aagay jo bhi ho anjaam dekha jaayegaa ,
Khuda taraash liya aur bandigi kar li”

I have had no formal training or degree for acting . You can say almost self taught . But I give due credit to Kavi Rattan Sharma Ji  ( first NSD trained theatre personality from Jammu ) for guiding and helping me by making me to act in numerous plays . So am I thankful to Puran Singh Puran , Ved Rahi Ji , Moti Lal Kemu Ji and many more persons . How many I should quote and not quote I do not know. They are all great people.”

Those amongst us who have seen her performances must have also observed the qualities of audience captivating ,performance commitment , deep insight of human behavior , professionalism and innate talent that Susham Ji demonstrates on stage . Her rapport with her audience is instant .Like all great actors , her reading and interpretation skills are superb and unmatched . These qualities are starkly visible in some plays that she did successfully . The list of such plays could go too long and accordingly I quote some select plays like..

(1) CHAAR DIN ( Vijay Tendulkar )
(2) AADHE ADHURAY ( Mohan Rakesh ) ,
(16) VILAV MANGAL ( Directed by Lakshmi Dutt Shastri )
(17 ) SANDHYA CHHAAYA ( Directed by Kewal Krishen )
(20) BHAGWAT AJJUKAYAM ( A Dance Drama / Opera )
(22) EEKHIAN ( Dogri Play )
Susham Ji has also done many tele-films and some roles in mainstream commercial cinema . Some tele-films and documentaries that were very well reviewed (for her powerful roles )in print media are:-

(1) Aaley ( Ved Rahi )
(2) Chehra (Ashraf Shawl )
(3) Nazraana 
(4) Sarkaari Joota ( mainstream commercial film )
(5) Himmat ( A mainstream commercial film By Ved Rahi )
(6) Daraar (A commercial film by Ved Rahi )
(7) A documentary on veteran freedom fighter Budh Singh JI 
(8) A Documentary on Brig. Ravinder Singh.
(9)Documentary on Dinu  Bhai Pant.

“ Life has been moving very fast . I do not know when I started and where I stopped . It has been work and work all along. In college,  I was the best NCC cadet. I was into acting and drama from my school / college days . After completing my post graduation in Chemistry, I joined SBI for about 7 months . Thereafter I was selected as Dy.S P( Direct officer ) in SSB and posted in Himachal Pradesh and finally I joined J&K Bank as direct officer ( 1979 batch  ) to serve my home state and be with my family . From Chemistry , I switched over to Accounting and Finance and did my CAAIB ( both parts ) to be a Certified Associate of Indian Institute of Bankers , Mumbai. My bank duties were also challenging . I was the first woman manager of a city branch in Jammu . You can well understand how much pressure this bank job puts on all fronts like your social life , family life , intellectual pursuits and many more areas .I kept doing all and attending to all to the best of my ability .
God has been kind . So has been my family very supportive . Post retirement from the bank,  I am now associated with an NGO ( Viraj Kala Kendra ) trying to do something for poor/ underprivileged women and children . We support a school at Nagrota that has 120 children on its rolls . These students are from very poor families . I continue to be the vice president of Rangyug( our theatre group ) and DDADAA ( Door Darshan Approved Drama Artists Association) .Let me see what more I can do and repay the debt to my society and the people of J&K at large . There has never been a time for me to sit and review my life . Just moving and moving . This predicament I sum up as under,

Kab mili thhi kahaan bichhdi thhi hamein yaad nahin , 

Zindagi tujh ko to bas khwaab mein dekhaa hum ne “

Many awards kept coming my way . Recognitions also poured in from many quarters . Believe me and I say it sincerely , the best award and recognition for me is an applaud/ clap from the audience that watches me perform on the stage

And Avtar Ji , whatever be the case , wherever I be , I want to be on the stage till my last breath.”


( Susham Sharma performing in Lahore 2005 :Play - Aaley )
                       ( With Madiha Gauhar Lahore ...2005  )

Ravinder Kaul ,theatre and art critic adds ,

"I distinctly remember that while reviewing a play in which Susham Ji was performing, I had written "if she does not deserve a Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for acting then no one else in India deserves it.". An ace actor and a wonderful human being."

My friend Khalid Hussain, noted Punjabi writer from J&K  said this :-

" I was the key player in sending Rangyug team to Lahore alongwith Ravinder Kaul and Liaqat Jafri. It was March 2005 and Sushama ji was not allowed by the Chairman JK Bank Mr. Yusuf Khan to proceed on leave due to financial year closing . I personally met Khan Sahib. He gave permission on the condition that she will be back to Jammu next day after performing the show and Susham Ji came back after two days. Madiha and her husband Shahid Nadeem were staying at my residence at Bathindi. "

I end this post on Susham Sharma with a simple and straight question ,

“ When Shall the powers that be do justice to God’s gifted , super talented and dedicated people like Susham Sharma ? Where is the much needed recognition to this talented artist from our establishment ? When shall we see the loud talk about women empowerment and equality being truthfully implemented on ground ?”

Happening so is what all of us would like to see…Hum dekhengay …. Laazim hai ki hum bhi dekhengay..

( Avtar Mota )


Added on 14th July ,2024.

Sad to add that Susham Ji breathed her last in July 2024. A tribute to the artist written by Ravinder Kaul  has been uploaded below.





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