Rising Kashmir feature Saba Khan connected with those listeners and some artists who worked in Zoon Dab and descended into the past for Kashmir to relive those moments.
Fatima Syed, 72, from Rainawari region of Srinagar used to listen to Zoon Dab drama regularly. She said, “I used to look forward to the drama which aired at 9am. All the participants who played in this program were very talented. For us, it was like the story of every home.
She attaches good memories to it that she has never forgotten. “I took many verses and poems from the drama. The advice that the artists would give in the program, I learned a lot.”
Having memorized the poem, laktu matu tayar koth from Zoon Dab, she then passed it on to her grandson.
“If it is rebroadcast, today’s generation will surely appreciate it for its rich language and valuable advice,” she added.
The radio program, which was once listened to in every household in the valley, is no longer broadcast on the radio today. The popular program would be broadcast on Radio Kashmir and all listeners would be glued to their radio sets.
Zoon Dab has been on the air for over twenty years and radio being the only source of entertainment for most people has added to its popularity.
An entertainment and infotainment show was led by the old school broadcasters whose voice captured a good number of fans from all corners of the valley.
Fatimasa says all the ladies in the neighborhood would be eager to listen to her and try to finish their chores before time.
“Not just the women, even the men couldn’t help but listen to her. The drama was presented in the pure Kashmiri language which was its beauty and that is what is missing today. The child of today does not understand pure Kashmiri language,” she said.
Zoon Dub performer Ashok Kak, who played the role of Ismala, said he was in 7and year when he had the chance to participate in the show.
“The script was written by Pushkar Ban, Somnath Sadu and sometimes Farooq Nazki,” he said.
Launched in 1966 as a family show, the show shed light on the daily problems of Kashmiri people related to electricity, roads, water and other issues. It was broadcast continuously until 1986, but due to the death of some artists, some of them having retired or being transferred, it ceased to be broadcast.
About the popularity of the drama, he said that the artists gained huge fame through the drama. Recalling the time in 1987 when he went to the DC office for verification, he was asked about his work in the famous drama.
“It was the time when people listened to the radio a lot, now it’s time for television and the internet. People have lost interest in radio,” he said.
He also said that if Zoon Dub airs on the current channel, it will catch people’s attention again.
Later when Ashraf Sahil became the director of Radio Kashmir, he asked Shamshad Karlwari who was the program director of Radio Kashmir to start the Zoon Dub.
Speaking to Shamshad Kralwari, he said, “Zoon-Dub is the drama in which we produce the link between broadcasting institutions and the listener.”
“During his tenure as Chief Minister, Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq directed his officials to listen to the Zoon dab and work immediately on resolving issues that were highlighted in the program,” Kralwari said, adding “We maintained the decorum of the program when it was restarted under the leadership of Ashraf Sahil.
Meanwhile, Pushkar ban, Nayeema Akhtar and Maryum Begum also worked for its revival. However, after two and a half years, Kralwari was transferred and the program was once again terminated.
In 1973, three Zoon Dab artists including Somnath Sadu, Maryum Begum and Pushkar Ban were awarded the “Padam Shree”.
Zoon Dab Story
While talking about how the Zoon Dab program was launched on the raids, Bashir Arif, former Deputy Director General of Radio Kashmir said, “On September 6, 1965, war started between India and Pakistan. Kashmiri listened to the Pakistani bulletin every morning at 7:30. It was a daily routine for people in Kashmir. The aim of the program was to get people out of the clutches of the Pakistani newsletter.
At that time in Kashmir, director Nandh Lal Chawla was the first broadcaster to introduce public service broadcasting. Before that, there was only entertainment, information, education and news on the radio. It was his brainchild that introduced the program, in which we discussed and solved the problem of the people.
“Chawla had good relationship with Chief Minister Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq who issued the order on the issues raised and discussed in Zoon Dub, redress for the same issue should be dealt with on the same day. related to electricity, water, roads and other civic amenities.This is the main reason for its popularity,” said Bashir Arif.
Once this program aired at 7:30 a.m. on October 3, 1966, people stopped listening to the Pakistani bulletin.
The first characters that were introduced in Zoon Dub were Somnath Sadu as Agh sahib, Maryam begum as Agh bai and also Ghulam Nabi Baba was the first artist who worked as a housekeeper in this feature film.
“In February 1967, Pushkar Ban was introduced as Ma’am Pip Ji, a new character in zoon’s dub. I started in January 1967 as a child artist (Nazir Lala) in this feature film “, said Bashir Arif.
In 1971 Pushkar Ban went to Australia to train and on behalf of his humorous character Farooq Nazki was featured as Ramb Lala and also Ashok Kak as Ismail.
The script of the drama was mainly written by Somnath Sadu, Pushkar Ban, Farooq Nazki, Bashir Arif, and later Ali Mohammad lone and Akhtar Mohiuddin also wrote the script.
The program became popular and everyone who was stationed in other parts of India was invited to start a program like Zoon Dab where the public complaint was discussed.
Zoona Dab was revived in 2012 when Bashir Aarif took over as deputy general manager of Radio Kashmir Srinagar. New characters have been introduced. Bashir Aarif acted as Nazir Lala, Shahida Parveen as his wife, Ashok kak as Ismala and Rashid Barqi as Zoona-Dab tenants.