Saturday, June 12, 2021






RADIO KASHMIR... And My days in Broadcasting

By Pran Kishore Kaul

 Published by Chinar Publishers ,Pune.

 Price Rupees 449/-

 ( Available on Amazon and Flipkart)


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 the "Akashvani Annual Awards " of 1978. It was also selected as AIR's official entry to the xxx Prix - Italia Festival held in Milan, Italy. His novel, 'Sheen Ta Vatapod ' won him the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award . He has been honoured with Padamshri as well. His latest work is a semi-fictional novel,' The Moon of Saffron Fields' on the life of Habba khatoon.


I vividly remember how food was served to us at 8.30 pm and my mother would finish everything by 915 pm. Thereafter , everyone in our family kept himself glued to the radio in hush silence waiting till 930 pm 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 pm 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 the 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. He 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 the 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 the 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 the 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 Daenthar ( scripted by Bansi Nirdosh )

(10) Agar Aash Sorie, Kaend Sahraav , Aadam Hawa Ta Iblees , Pasha kiss Vatchhus Tal and Myaani Jigreikk Daaedi Vothh. ( scripted by Ali Mohammad Lone )

(11 ) Bhuut 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 the establishment of the first radio station in Kashmir, the formation of the Cultural Front, the first All India Mushaira in Kashmir presided over by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad's rule, death of poet Mehjoor, the arrest of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1953, a sad event relating to the theft of Moo e Muqadass, cloudburst in Pahalghaam, Kamraj Plan and the 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 book 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, Sharif ud Din, Jagan 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 were in the secured repository of 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 the entire outstanding rent of about fifteen thousand to radio artist Jagan Nath Saqi . Saqi had occupied a government quarter near Polo Ground . Saqi was inducted into Radio Kashmir on the 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 the 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 overcoat 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 the simple and real nature of some leaders apart from giving an objective peep into some important events connected with them .


 During his official work, the author has visited many places in all 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 “which won him the 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 , our author , 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 to 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 Radio Kashmir , Srinagar for some years.

As In-charge of the 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 ,Jagan Nath Saqi, Brij Kishori, Sudama Ji Kaul, Makhan Lal Saraf, Mohammad Sultan, Pyare Lal Razdan,Trilok 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 a writer, he has a style full of riveting narration. His affable mannerism, crystal clear integrity and helpful attitude have endeared him to a vast circle of friends that included Prabhakar Mukerji and actor Tom Alter. He is a connoisseur of music ,dance and poetry. Name any segment of fine arts , literature and mass communication , Pran Kishore has put his imprints and added his contribution directly or indirectly. I believe that Pran Kishore could have been another Abbas Kiarostami had he moved out and joined films. Like Kiarostami, the celebrated filmmaker from Iran, Pran Kishore's scripts, line of direction and presentation are always rooted in 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 the history of theatre , drama , music and broadcasting in J&K , needs to acquire this book. Open any chapter or page , and 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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