Sajood Sailani No More, His Plays Will Go On

Sajood Sailani. Pic Courtesy, Autar Mota

Counted among the legendary drama writers of Kashmir, like Akhtar Mohi Ud Din, Som Nath Sadhu and Pushkar Bhan, Sajood Sailani believed in the silent workmanship and enthralled his captive audience during the golden theatre movement in the valley.

By Sadaf Mushtaq

BEFORE becoming Kashmir’s legendary dramatist who used his pen as means of social reform, Sajood Sailani (1936-2020) had worn many caps in his colourful career spanning over decades.

His peers in State Garage still recall how the famous play-writer would pen dramas in his ‘hideout’. As artist and cartoonist, his famous theatre movement of yore ended the cultural academy’s monopoly in the valley. The defiant dramatist had taken theatre to grassroots in a bid to engage masses.

He went on to write more than 150 radio plays, 27 full length stage dramas and 40 comedies in Urdu and Kashmiri languages.

But after surviving a stroke and remaining unwell for many years, Sailani finally breathed his last on Tuesday at his ancestral residence, Srinagar. He was 85.

Sajood Sailani with his artist friends

Back in the day, Sailani as a fresh-faced boy—fond of famed Hawa Mahal programme on All India Radio—had visited radio Kashmir to record ‘Nohakhwaani’ programs.

Later, he would produce some of the powerful ‘nowhah’ writing depicting scenes of Karbala.

A relative of late Ghulam Rasool Santosh and brother of prominent (late) painter Gayoor Hassan, Sailani eventually became a reckoning name in Kashmir’s drama world.

Born as Ghulam Mohammed Wani in a humble family in Dalgate Srinagar in 1936, Sailani’s dramas won accolades and admirers throughout his active-writing career.

Instrumental in forming the Wani Art Gallery frequented by the famous artists of the time, Sailani played an important role in popularising the modern Kashmiri theatre throughout 70s and 80s.

He revived the Theatre Federation, which gave tough competition to Jammu Kashmir Academy of Art Culture and Languages.

“Sailani was counted among the most compelling drama writers of his time,” said Sofi Parvez, a Srinagar-based artist. “Anybody who listened to his dramas back in the day would become his fan and follower. His demise is an end of an era.”

Patron Adbee Markaz Kamraz, Dr Aziz Hajini, said Sailani will be always remembered for his outstanding contribution.

“His style of writing plays for stage gave a new direction to theatre in Kashmir,” Hajini said.

Based on three plays, Sailani’s book ‘Kaej Raath’ won him the prestigious Sahitya Academy award in 1994. He also remained a member advisory board of Sahitya Academy for four years (1973 to 1977) and in 1990.

“He used his drama to comment on the critical social issues,” said writer Arshid Khan. “His memorable works including ‘Fundbaz’ and Vutri-bunyul will remain the hallmark of his genius mind.”

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