While working as a painter in State Motor Garages, Ghulam Mohammed Wani would often steal time to indulge in his passion of write dramas. His preferred hideout was a non-functional wagon. The drivers and employees would advise others not to go near the wagon as he is again writing something. Despite sometimes being senior to him, the employees would respect him a lot.
The employee was no ordinary painter but someone who turned out to be one of the most prolific playwrights of Kashmir – Sajood Sailani. During the golden era of theatre and broadcasting from sixties upto eighties, Sajood was one among the group of legendary writers who enchanted people with his pen.
His own life itself is full of drama, tragedy, dedication and twists and turns. Born in a humble family in Dalgate in 1936, Sajood rose to prominence with his gift of writing wherein he made writing drama scripts his specialisation. "I was fond of the Hawa Mahal programme broadcast on All India Radio. I used to particularly like the dramas and wondered whether I can write these dramas. I gave it a try and sent the script to All India Radio New Delhi. They liked my script and 7-8 short dramas called Jhalkies were accepted by AIR," said Sajood who at that time didn't know that Kashmir had its own radio station too.
Sajood exhibited the knack for writing right from his Class 10 days. It was during this era that he changed the name from Ghulam Mohammed Wani to Sajood Sailani and the name gave him immense recognition during the due course of time.
After the dramas got wide appreciation, the local Radio Kashmir tracked the Sajood and send him a letter to come to their station. The then producer Ghulam Hassan Aijaz met him and inquired from him why he doesn't send the dramas to them and instead mail it to New Delhi.
Sajood relented and gave them drama and his dramas became overnight hit. Sajood went on to write famous dramas like Kaej Raat (Dumb Night), Gaashe Taaruk (Guiding Star), Ropye Rood (Money shower).
Kaej Raat was originally a stage drama which he later modified into a radio play and drew immense appreciation.
His another famous drama was Gaashe Taaruk, which was based on one of the James Russel's poem. Sajood scripted the drama in such a way that it touched peoples heart. It became one of the most famous dramas of its times.
In Ropye Rood, Sajood included Lal Ded's and Sheikh ul Alams (RA) vaakh as dialogues and people loved it.
Sajood was known for including creative sound and light effects to his dramas which immensely enhanced his appeal. In Ropye Rood he used a brass sheet found in an abandoned vehicle of State Motor Garage to create the Om sign to be used on the stage. The artists of that time were so much impressed that renowned painter G R Santosh himself came to meet him to inquire how he made such sign appear on stage.
Being a multi talented person Sajood is not only a dramatist but he has been a stage artist, poet, painter and fiction writer too. Working as a painter, Sajood was instrumental in forming the Wani Art Gallery, which was visited by the famous artists of that time including Santosh. But the gallery couldn't be sustained for a long due to lack of financial support from any quarter. "At that time I was financially struggling and I couldn't sustain the gallery on my own," said Sajood.
The field in which Sajood succeeded immensely was the theatre movement. He along with other like minded persons revived the Theatre Federation and the time came that it was seen parallel to Jammu Kashmir Academy of Art Culture and Languages. In fact at times it gave tough competition to Academy. "At that time theatre movement was at its peak and theatre clubs were formed in almost every tehsil and they needed avenues to perform. The federation provided them the opportunity," said Sajood.
He played an important role in popularising the modern Kashmiri theatre through out 70s and 80s. His memorable works are Zalur (spider), Tentykor (Catgut), Fundbaz (swindler), Vutri binyul (catastrophe) and other dramas. His portrayal of social issues in a lucid way was seen as the best way of social reform.
Prior to it in 1967, Sajood founded Sangam Theatre, which presented many of his plays including Rupayi Rood and others.
A down to earth man, Sajood recently survived a stroke and has not been going outside much. When asked how he managed to achieve much, Sajood attributed it to divine intervention. "How can you explain it that a 10th pass person who has never seen a college could go on writing so many dramas and books. I real world it looks impossible but it was gift of God that helped me to write," said Sajood who also later completed diploma in applied arts and has honours literature.
His book of poems Shehjaar has a forward by veteran poet Dina Nath Naadim, who held the former in great regard. The book received cultural academy best book award in 1970. His Book Kaej Raath that is based on three plays namely Ropai Roodh, Kaejj Raath and Gaashi Taarukh won him the prestigious Sahitya Academy award in 1994. Sajood also received number of other awards and laurels. He also remained a member advisory board of sahitya academy for 4 years ( 1973 to 1977 ) and in 1990.
Sajood is also known for some of his powerful nowhah writing depicting scenes of Karbala. After recitations in majlis during Moharram, Sajood also used various techniques like using sound effects of storms to depict the scenes on Radio. He later published the script in Al-Rishad magazine and it gave him a new standing in this genre of writing.
After Sajood shifted to Pandrethan, he came in contact with Bihari labourers and he somehow liked their Bhojpuri language. He went on to study and research it and wrote a Bhojpuri play, the first ever by a Kashmiri writer.
Being a vehicle painter by profession, Sajood tried his hand at painting and cartoons too. He was first posted at State Motor Garages and later was transferred to Government Medical College as a curator. "I was very much inspired by the illustrations of Sudhir Dhar and I also started painting whatever came to my mind. Be it designing signboards, making illustrations, drawing cartoons I did it all," said Sajood who is also elder brother of famed artist late Ghayoor Hassan.
Some of his cartoons on culture and social life of Kashmir are still relevant.
Despite dabbling in so many art forms, Sajood feels most satisfied with his dramas. Till date he has written a total of 150 plays / dramas for radio, TV and theatre. Due to current state of health, he has been advised not to strain himself in writing.
A keen observer of society Sajood says that he got everything due to his art and it was the dedication and God's grace that he went from a place when he had to struggle for a days meal to having all material goods a money can buy. In addition to struggle through poverty Sajood also lost his wife in 1986. Though he remarried but the incident shook him to core.
"It is ironic in my professional life I got the maximum respect from driver and cleaners in State Motor Garages. Despite themselves being illiterates they used to held me in high esteem and the place where I got the lowest respect was GMC. The people there were highly literate and I felt always being looked down in their company," said