Rashid Javed: Documenting the changing Kashmir

The German Embassy at New Delhi specially sent a letter of appreciation to Javed commending his work woven around an unusual subject

Haroon Mirani
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jan 12 2018 11:42PM | Updated Date: Jan 13 2018 2:54PM
Rashid Javed: Documenting the changing KashmirFile Photo

Much before the advent of internet in 1991 when Doordarshan Kendra Kashmir produced a documentary titled “Black Snow In Kashmir” it became viral sort of stuff and evoked interest from around the world. The other worldly weather phenomenon occurring in Kashmir which the documentary tried to capture was a rare happening of the season. The documentary producer Rasheed Javed garnered praise from all around for his piece of work. The German Embassy at New Delhi specially sent a letter of appreciation to Javed commending his work woven around an unusual subject. They were happy at the awareness capsule of the documentary that pointed at the scary future of pollution.

The documentary recorded the instances of black snowfall in various areas of Kashmir in the aftermath of Gulf war in which Iraq had set afire number of oil wells. The resultant smoke and soot had been carried with western disturbances and thus accompanied the usual white fluffy snow.

“I remember that year there were multiple reports of black snow falling in Kashmir. It was never heard of and people everywhere were talking about the incident,” said Javed. “I was assigned to make a documentary on the entire episode that was unfolding in Kashmir.”

Javed and his crew went to the areas that had prominent black snow. During that year Kashmir had received ample snowfall and Sonmarg was one of the places where black snow magnitude was higher. 

“The 1991 US-led war against Iraq and the oilfield conflagrations made Gulmarg's delicate environment pay a heavy price,” said Javed. “With our documentary we showed how the environment of this world is connected. Despite being so vast but in reality everything is interconnected which makes it small too.”

The crew documented the black snow and also interviewed the experts. The year also saw the end of a popular phrase in Kashmiri, Telli paye kruhun sheen used to describe something impossible. “After the black snow if anyone used to utter the phrase the opponent would say that black snow has already happened and both will burst in laughter,” said Javed who also did number of other documentaries and retired as programme executive from Doordarshan Srinagar.

Javed’s other memorable documentaries were on the subjects of Art of Calligraphy, Shahnama Firdousi, Wahab Parrey Al-Ghazali, Ibn-e-Sina and others. “After being appointed as production assistant in 1981 at DD Srinagar I was lucky to assist eminent producers including Farooq Nazki, J K Zutshi, Siraj Qureshi and Ashok Jelkhani. It was a huge learning curve for me and I picked up the tricks of trade and polished my skills,” said Javed who was born in 1952 at Badiyar Basantbagh Srinagar. 

Another of his hit documentaries has been Fight against Cancer that highlighted the growing menace of cancer in Kashmir and how it is destroying families both financially and emotionally. It was a wake up call like documentary and has been repeatedly broadcast on Doordarshan due to its quality matter.

With graduation in Science and Hon's in Urdu the television was an unlikely field for Javed had it not been his love for theatre. He has been an approved TV, Radio and stage actor since 1973. He acted in different stage dramas like Changez, Ropiye Rood (first play in 1974), Kaij Rath, Manzil Niki at a time when theatre movement was at its peak. “In theatre I had the privilege of bagging a role in famous musical Himalaya ke Chashme produced by Cultural Academy,” said Javed. The musical is considered as one of the gems of legendary dancer and choreographer Mohammed Shafi Mir that was staged at the peak of his career.

His other prominent work has been directing award winning plays like “Mey Gatchi Nechuv” (Kashmiri version of Telugu play) and Changez. The former got three distinguished awards in Kashmir theatre federation festival in 1976. For Changez Javed received certificate of merit for acting in an Urdu play at State Cultural Academy’s drama festival at Tagore Hall.

He also appeared in M L Kemmu’s folk play Manzil-Niki staged in Allahabad Natya Sangh Play Competition which got the presidents award. Witnessing his acting talent Javed got lucky to have bagged one role in a Hindi movie Mazhab.

Javed got an exposure to learn the folk theatre when he was appointed as cultural assistant in Cultural Academy in 1975. Here he worked with legends like writer M Y Teing, dramatist Ali Mohammed Lone, M L Kemmu, KK Raina, Sajood Sailani and late Virendra Razdan. “At cultural academy I conducted cultural programmes like potetry recitations, literary meets drama festivals, book exhibitions, folk light and sufiyana musical programmes. It was an era full of exposure. I got to meet new people, learn about new ideas and remain abreast of contemporary art and culture,” said Javed. Meanwhile his acting career continued and he remained Vice President and director of Sangam theatre from 1976 to 1981. 

During his career at Doordarshan too the element of culture and interaction remained intact. “I did the literary programmes for Doordarshan for around twenty years wherein I interviewed who is who of Kashmir,” said Javed. During his training at FTII Pune in 1981, Javed produced a programme on film actor Gajana Jagirdar which got a wide appreciation. He also tried his hands at directing serials for Doordarshan the noticeable among whom is the Bond Bond Zindagi that starred Zameer Ashai, Neelum and others. 

Apart from his work as director and actor, Javed has also penned two books. His first book Doh Losnas Taam is a collection of Kashmiri plays and an essay on characterisation in Drama. His second book Kahkashan had children as their target audience.