CULTURE: ‘Comedy Is My Treasure And A Great Responsibility’

  • Zia Shakir
  • Publish Date: Feb 26 2018 12:55AM
  • |
  • Updated Date: Feb 26 2018 12:55AM
CULTURE: ‘Comedy Is My Treasure And A Great Responsibility’

Nazir Ahmad Wani is a household name in Kashmir. Or, more accurately, Nazir Josh or Ahed Raza is. That is his screen name. For a generation of Kashmiris, Nazir Josh defined comedy. His skits on radio, and later TV, were immensely popular in the 80s and 90s. But few even among his admirers know that he is an accomplished theatre actor as well.

Nazir Josh started acting at 13. That is all he has ever wanted to do, he says in this freewheeling conversation with Ink.

How did you become an actor?

I started in 1968. I was 13 years old. There was a theatre in Budgam called National Theatre Budgam and I got associated with it. In those days, there were many theatre groups in Kashmir but a single festival was held every year, at Tagore Hall in Srinagar. In 1968, our theatre group participated in the festival. We did a play called Timeh Goreh Gayeh. We got the first prize along with two other groups. It boosted my confidence. After that, we did some more plays in different parts of Kashmir, particularly Srinagar, which people liked very much. So that is how I started out.


How did films happen?

In 1977, Doordarshan held an audition in Srinagar. I went and outperformed everybody.


Apart from acting, you later took up production and direction as well. It has been quite a productive career.

I have acted in 25 television serials, some of which became very famous such as Temeh Goreh Gayeh, Habba Khatoon and Totmeh. Since 1991, I have been producing and directing as well and have done 10 serials. In 1985, the government stopped the telecast of my serial Hazar Dastan. It was resumed after two years. I have also produced and directed a telefilm. The serial Jume Jarman, telecast in 1987, was also widely acclaimed.

In the 90s, when Kashmir was in the throes of conflict and fear, anxiety and depression was taking a toll on people, my humour provided some relief and made people smile. That, I think, is my biggest achievement.


Do you think people, especially the youth, have grown disinterested in Kashmiri dramas over the years?

People still watch Kashmiri serials. If they find them humorous, they watch.


Yet, performing arts such as theatre as well as folk arts are on the decline in Kashmir.

That is because of the lack of funds. We don’t get enough funds from the Cultural Academy. They do not give much importance to the local film industry. We have great actors in Kashmir, and producers, directors and technicians but they are hamstrung by the lack of funds. Bollywood spends crores of rupees on production. We can do wonders if our local film industry gets adequate funds and they are properly utilised.


You are also a writer. What do you write about mostly?

I stared writing very early in Urdu and Kashmiri. I mostly write drama scripts. I have written scripts for at least 16 serials. All have been well received by the audience.


Now that you aren’t much on TV, I’m sure your fans miss you. Have you thought about making videos and putting them online? You can not only reach your fans but a much wider audience?

Somebody recently uploaded a video of mine on YouTube, and seven lakh people watched it. People still love me. Definitely, I am thinking of creating a YouTube channel, where I will upload videos for my fans.


What keeps you busy these days?

I work with Zee Salaam as a humorist and I do a comedy programme All Is Well on Radio Kashmir. My roles in it reflect what our society faces on a daily basis. I am also working on two new plays called Kokeh Shaal and Gaebi Insaan. I have finished writing the scripts for both.


You have quite a collection of awards. How many have you got?

I have received more than 50 awards until now, including two from the Cultural Academy in 1996 and 2001. Doordarshan felicitated me in 1998 and Radio Kashmir in 1999. I have received awards from many social and cultural organisations as well.


What is comedy for Nazir josh?

It’s an obligation that Almighty Allah has bestowed on me to spread among the masses. For me, it’s a treasure and a great responsibility.