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 )

CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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