Wednesday, January 31, 2018



                                   ( Photo Pushkar Bhan with Raj Kapoor )





 After actor-playwright Pushkar Bhan ( 1926 - 2008) popularised the word Machama through his radio plays ( comedy), it has come to be a part of the Kashmiri psyche. And here is a single word that brings a nostalgic smile to every Kashmiri's face. Most of us are familiar with the characters of these Machama series radio plays; I mean Machama, Kaak, Kaaken, Khadiji ( wife of Machama ), Sula Gotta, Rehman Dadda and many more. Most of us also remember Tuvaan Bacha, Zingari, Singari, Djinn, Rakh ( huge bird ) and some more characters from Pushker Bhan’s radio play ‘Sindbaad Machaama ’.


To be at home at dot drama time, many shopkeepers would close their shops early. Children, elders, ladies and middle-aged persons would wait eagerly for the Machaama radio drama. Machaama had touched the soul of every Kashmiri who somehow wanted a break from the monotony of gossip, scheming and ignorance. In those days, every young boy would be nicknamed ‘ Tuvaan Bacha’. Girls would be nicknamed Zingaari and Singaari and many times police had to be called near women's college Maulana Azad road as boys from S P College would come to the gate at closing hours and cry, ‘ Hataai Zingaari! Hataai Singaari !’.


In Kashmir, idlers and gossip mongers sitting in shops during those days were nicknamed ‘Sulla Gotta’ and ‘Rehman Dadda’ and idle daydreamers were satirically called ‘Machama Sahib’. Machama’s character has a tragic glimpse of unemployment and ignorance that prevailed in Kashmiri society. Machama always dreams to be adventurous and rich. Machama is a dreamy entrepreneur who desires to fly air-crafts, travel to distant lands, meet different people and try his luck to become rich and well-known. And this poor Machama is equally burdened with social / family responsibilities. These responsibilities always trigger negative momentum in his journey towards the realisation of his dreams. Fed up with the consumption of cheap green leafy Haak ( collard greens ) in his native land, Machama wants to relish chicken, mutton Wazwaan, Seeka Tujji ( fire-roasted mutton pieces ), Kebabs and pilaf in his dreamy sojourns. And a cigarette is the first thing that he demands during this dream journey. And then Machama wants to do something so that his name is written in the golden pages of history. In his dreams, Machama becomes a pilot, a hero, a leader, a coloniser ( colony for Djinns ), a trader, a mechanic, a traveller, a sailor, a singer, an orator and a kingmaker. He desires to unfold the secrets of treasures hidden in untravelled places. After assuming power in dreams, he orders his wife Khadiji to be made the Minister of Social Welfare. I tend to believe that a Machama lies hidden in all of us.


Machaama is a surname of Kashmiris. Many Machama families lived at Karapora Khushki, Rainawari in Srinagar city. Kuldeep Machama is my close friend from the Machama family of Rainawari. And one day his father told me this:-


“Machama is a Kashmiri surname. You can see Pandit and Muslim Machamas. It means sweetened rice. Pushker Bhan made us popular though many people started making fun of our surname. Bhan Sahib later spoke in an interview that Machaama came to his mind just for the fun of the word. He never knew that it was a surname with some Kashmiri families.”


Farooq Nazki noted Kashmiri poet and broadcaster says this about Pushkar Bhan and Machama series:-

"I remember when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon Pushkar Bhan created Machama in one night as a parody in which Rehman Gota, Sula Dada and Machaama went to the moon. He was able to create such a sound aura that one would feel transported to the moon literally. It is he who has elevated Kashmiri drama to the extreme horizons of perfection."



          ( Pushkar Bhan in a Kashmiri film )

  Pushkar Bhan was born at Habba Kadal in Srinagar city in 1926. He joined Radio Kashmir, Srinagar in 1952 and retired in 1985 as a producer. His radio serial ', Zoona Dubb ' became the most popular programme that was aired without break for 19 years. His radio dramas under the "Machama" series touched heights of popularity in the Kashmir valley. He also played major roles in ‘Maenz-Raat’ and ‘Mehjoor ’, two Kashmiri films. Pushkar Bhan was awarded Padama-shri in 1974. For writing "Machama" plays, he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1976. He died in 2008.



In Kashmir, we had a renowned saint Ahmed Sahib Machama whose Ziyarat is located at Hawal near Firdaus cinema or Shribhat Kocha. He was a Sufi poet and a great believer in peaceful coexistence. He was Murshid to many Sufi poets of his time including Wahab Khaar and Prakash Ram. Ahmed Sahib Machama is credited with bringing the Sirhindi Silsila of Sufism to the Kashmir valley once he returned from Punjab.


In the Hebrew lexicon, Machama’ah means something that is ‘curd-like ’. It also means words of flattery.



( Avtar Mota )

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Sunday, January 28, 2018


               ( Lata ji And Javed Akhtar )
 .            (Sahir reading a poem )

 (Actor Amitabh And Rekha in Silsilay)


 Javed Akhtar Informs  :

“  I knew Yash ji very well.  I was in his team as  script writer. I had already written DEEWAR , TRISHUL and KALA PATHAR  and sahir sahib had written some memorable songs for all the three films. When yash ji decided about SILSILA  Project , He went to Lata ji and sought her advice for some better lyricist as Sahir Sahib was no more around. Lata ji suggested my name . She had informed  Yash ji that her friend * *Padma,  who was a poet , had liked my poems and Gazals. I used to write poems and Gazals but nothing was published . Not many people knew about my poetry in the Industry.

 Yash ji knew Urdu . He had a deep understanding of poetic nuances . He  had heard some poems  that I had written  . He never asked me for a song  till Sahir sahib was alive. For  All of us also,  sahir sahib was the   tallest  name  and a very  successful  lyricist in Hindi Cinema.  He commanded respect and had a price. With Yash ji , I kept a low profile about my poetry and focused on Script writing.

And Finally one day ,  yash ji asked me to write songs for Silsila ., Surprised ,  I declined the offer at once . I tried to put one reason or the other and thought that he shall get annoyed and find out some other poet.  But all that made him   adamant . At that time I never knew that Lata ji was behind my name .I never knew that Lata Ji had told him that I could only  write what Yash ji had in mind. Driven to wall from all sides by yash ji’s adamancy  , I decided to write. That is how Javed Akhtar became a Lyricist and wrote his first Film song ……… “ DEKHA EK KHWAAB  TO YEH SILSILAY HUVAY ”



( Autar Mota )

* Padma is well known Dogri poet and Writer Padma Sachdev.

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Friday, January 26, 2018


                                  REPUBLIC DAY GREETINGS                                     

I wrote my prayer..

Teri Nadiyon se Amrit barastaa Rahe,
Teray kheton se miltaa Rahe Sab ko Ann
Tujh pe mushkil kabhi bhi na Aaye koyii
Teray baagon mein ho Rang o Boo ka chalan
...Zindabaad Aey wattan

Mausamon ki Mehar Har Gadi ho yahaan
Meharbaan ho Havaaon ka bhi Baankpan
Mast Lehron ka sangeet Bajtaa Rahe
Saahilon pe teray Chhan-Chhana-Chhan-Chhanan
.....................Zindabaad Aey Wattan.

Jhoomti Gaati khushiyaan Milein Har taraf
Teray Ghar hon ya Bazaar ya teray ban
Phool khiltay Rahein log miltay Rahein
Ho Mohabbat Murawat ka Har su chalan..
..........Zindabaad Aey Wattan

kaam Miltay Rahein Choolhe Jaltay Rahein
Har Taraf Noor hi Noor ilam aur Fun
khatam Nafrat adaavat ka ho silsila
Jo Sukhan ho to ho Pyaar ka hi Sukhan
.......Zindabaad Aey Wattan.

Aey Himaala Teri Sarparasti Rahay
Ta Abad Hon Suhaagan ye Gang o jaman
Sookhi Dharti ko Pyaason Ko Miltaa rahay
Teri Jheelon ka Aur Aabshaaron Ka Dhan
...............Zindabaad Aey Wattan

(Autar Mota)

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Thursday, January 25, 2018





Sometime back ,   Shri Surrinder Turki  informed me that  he  belonged to the family of Turkis living in Karan Nagar. He   sent a mail  to me   saying that he happens to be a direct descendant of Pandit Taba Ram Turki. He has also confirmed that his ancestors resided in Rainawari where from they moved out long back.

Coming to Pandit Taba Ram Turki , I need to add that this  learned Pandit was a Persian poet of exceptional quality . His poetry books can be seen in some Central Asian countries .    Nabi Hadi's book titled 'Dictionary of Indo-Persian literature'  Published in 1995 , specifically mentions   his  name   at page 134.  A galaxy of Persian scholars are included in this book .Another Book Published by Beta Script Publishing  Titled ' Pandit Taba Ram Turki  …ISBN 978-613-2-48456-7'  deals exclusively with Persian poetry of Taba Ram Turki.  

 Ronald Cohn and Jesse Russel  have jointly  edited  84 page  paperback book on   life and works Pandit Taba Ram Turki published in 2013. This book, Published in English  under ISBN - 10:5512054953 and ISBN - 13:9785512054956 is sold  for  US $27.95.

Pandit Taba Ram  Turki Wrote   under the pen name 'Betab '. It was a practice among Kashmiri Pandits to use Sun ( Aftab Ram  or Aftab joo ) , Moon ( Zoona Ded  or  Zoona Maal ) and  stars ( Tarakh Kak  or Tarakh Joo ) as names .Taba is a short cut for Aftab meaning the Sun , luminous and source of natural  light.

Just across Jogi lanker bridge in Rainawari ,there used to be a cluster of Turkis . They lived close to the old house of Pandit Sham Lal Saraf ( Minister in the first cabinet of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah ) .  Many Turkis moved out to live in other areas of Srinagar city . A family moved to Punjab  much before 1947 in search of employment . Three or four  families of Turkis  continued to live in this area till  January 1990. I happened to know the families of Pandit Amar Nath Turki and  Shri Makhan  Lal Turki   .  Pandit Taba Ram belonged to this  Turki clan of Jogilanker , Rainawari  .    I also had a friend  cum school mate from this family  .  And Turkis from Rainawari , whom I knew , were ignorant of their glorious ancestor ,Pandit Taba Ram Turki  'Betab'. 

 Pandit Taba Ram wrote Masnavis ( long epic poems with historical or philosophical themes ). I am informed that his Masanavis were prescribed in post graduation studies in  the University of Tehran. He was a  Persian  scholar  who could  also read and write Arabic.   It is believed that he was a student of Pandit Daya Ram Kachru (1743 A.D. to 1811 A.D.)  another Arabic and Persian scholar from Kashmir .  So was he   very close to Pandit Birbal Kachru (1789 - 1859 A.D.)  Persian scholar ,historian, Poet  and writer who wrote   voluminous history of Kashmir In Persian .

Persian language  attained the status of official language during the Mughal  rule ( 1586-1753 ) in Kashmir. This status was  retained the during the Afghan rule  (1753-1819)  . This being so,  many Kashmiri writers and scholars turned towards  Persian language and wrote / produced number of books on   history,  literature  and  poetry .  Though Ghani Kashmiri remains  the  tallest and most popular Persian poet to this day  in Persian literature   yet   no less is  the contribution of   Pandit Taba Ram Turki  to the Persian literature. His contribution  has brought  forth  noteworthy remarks  from competent critics that in the mastery of the Persian language , Pandit Taba Ram and some Kashmiri Pandits were second only to the Persians.  

J.K. Banerji in his book  'Encyclopaedia of Kashmir' chapter 16  (  From the Cultural past to the  Front ) writes :

"Outstanding among the Hindu Pandits who made important contributions to Persian poetry may be mentioned the name of Pandit Taba Ram Turki 'Betab' whose Jang Nama reached classic heights."

Noted  historian and author Gwasha Lal Kaul  Chapter 17 ( Cultural Heritage ) from the  book “Encyclopaedia of Kashmir” writes this:-

 "Jangnama by Taba Ram Turki stands on the same footing as Shahnama of Firdausi".

Pandit taba Ram  was a Personal friend of Mulla Mohd Taufiq  (  author Shahnama e Kashmir  In Persian ). Mullah  Muhammad  Taufiq  belonged  to the  family  of  Judoha,  and  resided  in  the  vicinity  of  Jamia  Masjid,  Srinagar .He was a  pupil  of  Mullah  Sati,  and  became  a  well  known poet of his time.  Taufiq is regarded by some as next only to Ghani.  He   occupied  the foremost  position  among  the  poets  of  the  day.    In  addition  to  his  Diwan,  he  has  written  treatise titled 'Shaibt, Sarufa, Bahi i  Lavil'. 

Poet , writer and  scientists , Ayaz Rasool Nazki adds this :

"After his education, Taba Ram Turki  was appointed a 'Kardar' and spent most of his service career at village Breng in Anantnag area. He was a frequent visitor to the darbar of Pt. Raj Kak Dhar who was himself a gifted poet and wrote under takhalus 'Farukh'. On one occasion , someone recited Mulla Tawfeeqs sher ....which was applauded by all . Raj Kak threw a challenge ...can anyone compose a better verse in same meter etc....Betab took the challenge and produced a master piece...he had put a condition that he will be suitably rewarded....Raj Kak ordered his men to deliver 100 kharwars of paddy at Betabs residence.And Tawfeeq Sher is...

shikasta rangiye man ba tabeeb dar jung ast 
ilaje darde saram husne sandali rang ast

Betab sher is ......

siyah bakhtam wa az bakhte khaesh khursandam
chara ki bakhte man wa zulfe yar hum rang ast..."

Mulla Taufiq and Taba Ram would share ideas and poems by  seeing each other or through exchange of letters  . He was a witness to defeat of Afghans and arrival of sikh forces of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore . Defeat of Azim khan  the Afghan governor  in the battle at shopian ashmir has been versified by him in his “Jangnama “.  Betab  also composed 'Ranjit Nama 'and 'Akbar Nama' . Akbar Nama relates to  Wazir Akbar Khan or Amir Akbar khan ( 1816-1845 ), a Pashto speaking  Afghan prince. He was a  General and finally Emir for about three years until his death. Apart from a valiant fighter , he was a lover of fine arts . Wazir Akbar Khan led the  revolt in Kabul against the British  forces  of  William McNaughten, Alexander Burnes and  Major-General William Elphinstone . 

Pandit Taba Ram was  was also summoned by Akbar Khan  to Kabul and honoured  for his skill as Persian poet .  He also visited Lahore and was honoured by Maharaja Ranjit singh in his Darbar where he also met the  powerful and influential   Raja Dina Nath , a Kashmiri Pandit and  the Finance Minister of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. 
In 1861, 14 years after  his death,  a comprehensive   Diwan of poems of Pandit Taba Ram Turki   was published .

(Avtar  Mota )