Saturday, June 12, 2021





RADIO KASHMIR .. And My days in Broadcasting .
       Pran Kishore 
Published by Chinar Publishers ,Pune..Price Rupees 449/-

 I read this book  twice ; once in  2020 and then again in 2021 .   For many reasons , this happens to be amongst the finest books that I read lately . This comes from a giant of a broadcaster known to us as Pran Kishore Kaul. Not only a broadcaster but a serious writer, novelist, producer, director, pioneer of radio dramas, theatre and above all an accomplished script writer who wrote some popular TV serials like Gul Gulshan Gulfam, Saaye Devdaar Ke ,Junoon and some more. His radio documentary " Ab ta Hayaat" bagged the coveted Best Radio Documentary Award in "Akashvani Annual Awards " of 1978. It was also selected  as AIR's official entry to the the xxx Prix - Italia Festival held at Milan, Italy.  His novel, 'Sheen Ta Vatapod ' won him prestigious Sahitya Akademi award. He has been  honoured with Padamshri as well.  

I vividly remember how food was served to us at 8.30 p. m.  and my mother would finish everything by 9.15 p.m. Thereafter every one in our family kept glued to the radio in hush  silence waiting till 9.30 p.m. when we would hear something like this :-

“ Ye chhu Radio Kashmir Srinagar . Raaetch haenz Saad’a Nuv Bajeiye . Booziv drama Lala Joo and Sons. Tehreer Ali Mohammad Lone peshkush  Pran Kishore “
"This is Radio Kashmir, Srinagar . It is 9.30 p.m. now. Tune in to our drama “Lala Joo And Sons “ scripted by Ali Mohammad  Lone and produced by Pran Kishore ." 
Once Radio Kashmir Srinagar was taken over by Government of India ( in 1954 )  , a qualitative and quantitative change took place in its programmes and functioning . More funds poured in and more technical equipment and expertise flowed in . Pran Kishore was made in-charge   of the drama section. His produced and directed  such radio plays as   broadened the listener base of  Radio Kashmir ,Srinagar . Some radio plays produced by Pran Kishore Kaul   attracted critical  attention in the  National Drama Festival  and won prizes  . Some operas like Vitasta , Piya Baaj Pyala, Himalaya ke Chashme and Tipu Sultan  were  directed by Pran Kishore Kaul for stage . These operas,   especially Nadim’s Vitasta,  touched  heights of popularity . Vitasta  was staged  across the length and breadth of the country. A mention can  also be made of below listed popular radio plays produced by him .

(1) Vyaathh Rooz Pakaan ( a drama series for which Akhtar Mohi Ud din , Ali Mohammad Lone and Som Nath Zutshi wrote powerful radio dramas . Ali Mohammad Lone’s drama for this series was selected in the National Drama festival and won first prize )

(2) Vaitaal Pacheesi ( From Kathaa Sarit Saagar translated by Ali Mohammad Lone.Apart from producing and directing this Radio Play  , Pran Kishore acted as Vaitaal )

(4)  All radio plays under Machama series ( written by Pushker Bhan) 

(5) Vyath later  Vitasta for stage   (  Radio drama and opera by Dina Nath Nadim directed by Pran Kishore Kaul  ) 

(5) Lal Joo and Sons ( written by Ali Mohammad Lone )

(6) Aadam Chhu Ajab Zaat ( written by Akhtar Mohi ud Din )

(7) Yeli Vattan Chhu Khuur Iwaan ( scripted by Hari Krishen Kaul )

(8) Vaen Kaemsinz Vaaer Chhi and Harud ( scripted by Dr. Shanker Raina )

(9) Myon Marrun ,Buss Akh Tamaah and DaaenThhar ( Scripted by Bansi Nirdosh )

(10) Agar Aash Soarie, Kaend Sahraav , Aadam Hawa Ta Iblees , Pash'a kiss Vatchhus Tal and Myaani Jigreikk Daaedi Voath.( scripted by Ali Mohammad Lone )

(11 ) Buut Ta Bulldozer ( scripted by G. R .Santosh )

( 12) Shuhul Naar , Taent Kur and Kaejj Raat ( scripted by Sajood Sailani )

(13) Vijvaav ( scripted by Som Nath Zutshi )

The  book under review  is a comprehensive documentation of many important events right from 1947 till the superannuation of the author. He  has been a first hand witness to all that he has recorded. Events like establishment of  the first Radio station in Kashmir, formation of Cultural Front, first All India Mushaira in Kashmir presided over  by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru,  Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad's rule, Death of poet Mehjoor, arrest of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1953, sad event of the  theft of Moo e Muqadass,  cloudburst in Pahalghaam, Kamraj Plan and resignation of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, formation of DNC, taking over of the Radio Kashmir by  AIR , war with Pakistan in 1965, war with Pakistan 1971, death of G. M. Sadiq,return of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah 1975, hooliganism at Indira Gandhi's rally at Hazuri Bagh, Srinagar in 1983 , and many more.
Once you open the  first page of the book , you get engrossed  in a world that belongs to you. It may be nostalgia or a part of something  that you have actually  lived or seen around . Many personalities brighten up.  Many well known names  in the political  arena come alive with many interesting stories to which our author has been privy. I mean men like Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru ,  Sheikh  Mohammad  Abdullah ,Dr. Karan Singh,Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad ,Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq,Durga Prasad Dhar and many more. 
Full of many  interesting episodes, the books brings to light many artists, broadcasters, musicians ,writers and singers of Kashmir. It gives a glimpse of  the  personalities of people like  Mir Ghulam Rasool Nazki,  Prem Nath Pardesi, Mahinder Kaul, A.L. Maini ,   N.L. Chawla,, Ali Mohammed Lone, Bashir Bhat, Raj Begum, Ghulam Qadir Langoo, Ghulam Hassan Sofi, Mohammad Abdullah Tibetbaqal, Mohan Lal Aima, Lassa Kaul,  Uma Khosla, Kedar Sharma,Jai Krishen Zutshi,Qaiser Qalandhar, K. K .Nayyar, Farooq Nazki, Ali Mohammed Nashtar, Ghulam Mohammad Rah, G. R. Santosh,   Ragheshwari Mattu, Rita Kaul, Rita Jitendra , Bhajan Sopori, Rehmatullah Khan,Nassarullah Khan, Krishen Langoo, Virender Mohan, T.K Jalali, Vijay Malla, Kailash Mehra, Aarti Tiku Kaul, Ghulam Nabi Sheikh, Som Nath Sadhu, Pushkar Bhan,  Shanta Kaul, Sharifuddin, Jaggan Nath Saqi,Sudama Ji Kaul and many more. 
You also get excellent details about some  old popular programmes of Radio Kashmir like Gumband Ki Awaaz,Jawabi Hamla, Vaadi Ki Awaaz,Zoona Dubb, Vatalbujji, etc.  The book contains exhaustive information about radio dramas with which the author remained associated all along his career. His efforts in presenting quality radio dramas earned him a respectable place not only amongst the local listeners but also amongst the connoisseurs of radio  drama in the  country.  The book informs that playwrights like Som Nath Zutshi, Ali Mohammad Lone, Akhtar Mohiuddin, Sofi Ghulam Mohammad, Som Nath Sadhu , Hriday Kaul Bharati, , Hari Krishen Kaul , Bansi Nirdosh, Shabnam Qayoom,  Dr. Shanker Raina,   Avtar Krishen Rehbar ,Noor Shah, Bashir Shah, Hamidi Kashmiri,  Sattar Ahmed Shahid, Sajood Sailani, Pushker Bhan , Affaq  Ahmed, Dr. Shakil ul Rehman, Anis Hamdani, Amar Malmohi and many more wrote plays for the Radio  . Even poets like Dina Nath Nadim, Amin Kamil ,Muzaffar Azim, Noor Mohammad Roshan and  Rehman Rahi wrote radio plays .
The visits of  Lata Mangeshkar , Pandit Ravi Shanker, Ustad Vilayat Khan , Nikhil Bannerji ,Shanti Hiranand , Jhande Khan, Begum Akhtar, Bismillah Khan ,Runa  Laila , Mishra brothers ( Rajan-Sajan )   and many more artists find specific  mention in the book .The recordings of these artists was in the  secured repository of  the Radio Kashmir . The author is not sure whether it is  still available  .
From the book I came to know that  after watching a play at Tagore Hall ,Srinagar , I. S. Johar felt impressed by  the beauty and acting skills of Usha Sawhney and offered her a long term contract . In films she came to be known as Sonia Sahni. From the book I can to know that Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad had waived entire outstanding rent of about fifteen thousand to radio artist  Jaggan  Nath Saqi . Saqi had occupied a government quarter near Polo Ground . Saqi was inducted into Radio Kashmir on specific recommendation of Bakshi  Ghulam Mohammad . From the book ,I came to know that  in 1975, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah had burst into tears before the pyre of Durga Prasad Dhar.From the book I came to know that due to the untimely  death of G. M. Sadiq,  Syed Mir Qasim was hurriedly sworn in as new CM of J&K state by Bhagwan Sahai ,the then governor. Not more than seven or eight persons were present at the Raj Bhawan for this ceremony. After the ceremony was over, the then DGP of J&K rushed forward for a handshake with  the  new CM and also to congratulate him.  However , Syed Mir Qasim refused and rebuffed him saying" Don't you see, we are in a mourning" . When the  cloudburst hit Pahalghaam , Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was the first person to reach the devastated hill station and personally removed the first boulder to clear the road. After the recovery of sacred Moo e Muqadass , Lal  Bahadur Shastri was deputed to Kashmir by  Pandit Jawahar Nehru. It was Chill e Kalaan time in Kashmir . Shastri Ji had no overcoat . Nehru brought his own over coat and handed over the same to Shastri Ji who admitted this in a press conference that he held in Srinagar . The book carries  many anecdotes of similar nature that reveal simple and  real nature of some leaders  apart from giving an objective peep into some important events connected with them  .
During the course of his official work, the author has visited many places in all the three divisions of the erstwhile J&K  state  ( Now  J&K and Ladakh  UTs)  . The  author records with clarity complete details of these places like Kargil, Ladakh ,Gurez , Tilel ,Matcheil valley  ,Lipa valley, Chhamb – Jaurian, Nowshehra and  Jhangarh, Chingus, Rajauri , Thana Mandi, Behram Gali , Noori Chhamb, Bafliaz, Poonch, Katra and  Salal near Reasi   . He has not only recorded  the scenic beauty of some of the places but also given a glimpse of the  culture of the inhabitants of these areas . His interaction with the  nomadic tribes like Gujjars and Bakerwals resulted in the birth of  his Kashmiri  novel  “Sheen Ta Vattapodh “   that won him Sahitya Akademi Award. I am informed that Balraj Sahni ( who incidentally happened to be a close friend of the author) had expressed a desire to perform the role of “Rajwali” when it was proposed to make a film on the novel.  
 The author informs us that well known Sufiana singers and musicians like Ustaad Sidda Joo, Ustaad Ramzan Joo, Ustaad Mohammad Abdullah Tibetbaqal, Ustaad Amir Joo, Ustaad Ghulam Mohammad Qalinbaaf ,Ghulam Qadir Mujavir , Mohammad Sultan Mir, Peer Nizamuddin and some Hafizas  were  the first artists  who performed for Radio Kashmir, Srinagar  .  A dedicated group of men like Mohan lal Aima  ,Prem Nath Pardesi , Mir Ghulam Rasool Nazki. Mahinder Kaul ,  Pran Kishore Kaul, Santosh Kohli, Bashir Butt,  Yash Sharma, Amina Shirin, Phool Sawhney , and many more also put their heart and soul during the formative years of Radio Kashmir. Our  author,  Mohan Lal Aima ,Quaiser Qalandhar , Ali Mohammad Lone and many  others in the radio  created avenues for induction of singers , drama artists , Instrumentalists and other artists   . We are informed that singers like Raj Begum, Naseem Akhtar , Zoona Begum , Ghulam Mohammad Rah, Ghulam Hassan Sofi , Ali Mohammad Sheikh, Ghulam Ahmed Sofi , Ghulam Ahmed Dar , Ali Mohammad Nashtar  were also discovered and  contracted to work for the Radio  .  The author makes specific mention of singers  and musicians who contributed for  making Radio Kashmir a proud institution . In this long list he includes Pandit Uma Dutt Sharma ( father of Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma )  , Virender Mohan ,Bhajan Sopori , Nassarullah Khan , Rehmat ullah Khan,  Aasha  Kaul, Aarti Tiku Kaul, Kailash Mehra , Shamima Dev, Ghulam Nabi Sheikh ,Vijay Malla ,Neerja Pandit , Krishen Langoo , T K Jalali , Mohammad Ashraf, Omkar Nath Raina ,Jahanara Janbaaz, Deepali Wattal, Lovely Chandra ,Waheed Geelani , Munir Mir and  Dilip Langoo.  From the book , I came to know that Ved Lal Vakil also served at the Radio Kashmir , Srinagar for some years.

As In-charge of Drama section, the author pays his tributes to the  in house  radio artists,  external contract artists and the  technical staff all of whom  helped him to establish the  national standards in the radio dramas produced  by Radio Kashmir , Srinagar . In this long list he includes names of   Kedar Sharma , Jai Kishen Zutshi , Uma Khosla ,Moti Lal Kuchru  Pushker Bhan , Som Nath Sadhu ,Umesh Kaul, Bansi Nirdosh,Mohan Nirash , Ghulam Nabi Hamdani, Ghulam Rasool ,Jaggan Nath Saqi,  Brij Kishori, Sudama Ji Kaul, Makhan Lal Saraf, Mohammad Sultan, Pyare Lal Razdan,Triloke Das ,Raja Hamid, Virender Razdan, Pran Chandra , Rita Langer , Usha Sawhney ( Sonia Sahni of films ) Shafi Mohammad  Mir,Shanta Kaul, Nayeema Ahmed , Opinder Khashu , Mohammad Sultan Pandit , Sharifuddin, Giria Wattal,  Surja Sahib,  Jalal Geelani, Noor Mohammad Lone, Mohammad Yaqoob, Asha Zaroo, Bharati Zaroo, Abdul Majeed Butt ,  and many others .

Padamshri Pran Kishore Kaul   is not an individual but a school of excellence in many areas like broadcasting, radio drama, stage acting, script writing, cinematography , production, direction, special effects, film acting and  painting . As writer, he has his own individual style full of riveting narration. His affable mannerism, crystal clear integrity and helpful attitude has endeared him to a vast circle of friends that included  Prabhakar Mukerji and actor Tom Alter. Pran Ji is a connoisseur of music ,dance and poetry. Name any segment  of fine arts , literature and mass communication , Pran Ji has put   his imprints and added  his  contribution directly or indirectly. I personally believe  that Pran Ji could have been another Abbas Kiarostami had he moved out and joined films. Like  Kiarostami,  the celebrated film maker from Iran,  Pran Ji's  scripts, line of direction and presentation are always rooted to the ground and the content has something deeper to convey. But then I feel if he had done so , a generation of stage  artists,writers and actors from Kashmir ,  whom he helped to grow ,would have been denied his guidance and help.

I firmly believe that  any person who wants to know history of theatre , drama , music and broadcasting in J&K , needs to acquire this reference book. Open any chapter or page ,  the familiarity with men and events is what  immediately connects you . You are engrossed and want to read it again and again. That is typical of a great absorbing style devised by Pran Kishore Kaul  for this book. Wholeheartedly, I recommend this book to   everyone.

( Avtar Mota )

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