Popularly known as Yasmeen after her lead role in the famous serial Eemandaar telecasted from Doordarshan Srinagar way back in 1990’s, Nirmal Dhar, now settled in Deharadun, has a deep wish to return to her homeland. Nazir Ahmad Rather offers some glimpses from her life.
Kanayah Dhar, a debutant theatre director was busy with rehearsals in Srinagar when he came to know that his lead actress has turned him down.
Dhar had a limited time to search for the new artist. He straight away asked his wife to get ready to play the lead role in the show.
“For me it was thrilling as I was having an earnest desire to work as theatre artist. It was a challenging task but I accepted the offer,” says Nirmala Dhar, the veteran television artist who made her debut in her husband’s theatre production titled, Nadi Pyasi Thi in 1979.
Nirmala Dhar had an urge to become a professional theatre artist but because of being married in an orthodox Kashmiri pundit family, she never had the courage to express her desire.
“My in-laws had a joint family and it was not easy for me to take up acting as my career,” says Nirmala.
She believes that it was like a blessing in disguise when her husband asked her to act in his play. She adds that the opportunity proved to be a great turning point in her life.
“I think it was really a turning point for me as an artist because after that first break I never looked back,” opines Nirmala Dhar.
“Nirmala Dhar is a gifted actress. We are yet to produce another such talented artist as far as her acting is concerned. She is a successful radio artist, a powerful theatre performer and a professional television artist,” says Umar Imtiyaz a veteran television actor who made his debut in the field of acting with Nirmala Dhar in their first ever television serial Adam Zaad.
Nirmala Dhar belonged to a humble background. Nobody in her family had ever imagined that their daughter will one day prove her worth as a successful television actress.
“My parents had no idea that their daughter will work in Doordarshan which is perhaps the reason that I was married just after passing my 12th class examination,” opines Nirmala who later did her post graduate diploma in journalism through IGNOU.
Nirmala Dhar has so far worked in dozens of television serials and theatrical productions. Before the start of conflict in the valley, she was perhaps the most sought after and popular actress on Doordarshan Srinagar.
“Because of non-availability of cable television here in the valley during 1990s, Doordarshan had a lot of viewership in Kashmir and Nirmala Dhar was undoubtedly the most popular female actress among the viewers during those days,” says Mohammad Iqbal Bhat, a private producer.
“From comedy to serious performances, Nirmala Dhar has no match. I think she is most versatile female actress that Kashmir has ever produced”, says Shadi lal the famous comic actor from Kashmir.
Nirmala Dhar has to her credit some of the famous television serials in which she has played impressive roles during 1990s. Saayee Deodar key, Patjhard, Eemandaar ,Neul krankh, Laliju and Sons, Baa Vanha Poz, Shehjar and Dedi Rian are the serials in which she left an indelible mark on the viewer’s minds. Some of her serials like Pathjhard and Saayee Deodar key were telecasted on national channels like DD1, DD2, DD Bharti.
Nirmala Dhar however believes that her role in Kashmiri serial Eemandaar is the memorable one for her.
“My role as lead actress Yasmeen in the serial Eemandaar is my favourite role. I think this role made me a household name during 90s. People would recognise me as ‘Yasmeen’ and not as Nirmala Dhar, after that serial,” explains Dhar.
After the migration of Kashmiri pundits in 1990s, Nirmala Dhar had to face her share of problems as migrant in Jammu. For several months she was jobless and she had to struggle a lot for earning livelihood there.
“That was tough period for me. It was practically not possible for me to continue acting. I would do other sorts of temporary jobs for earning my livelihood. It would include sewing peoples’ clothes and giving private tuitions to the neighbouring children,” narrates Dhar
“Migration made me tough. I was like an uprooted plant and I had to struggle very hard to get myself planted in a different soil and that was a challenging task,” explains Dhar.
Nirmala Dhar, believes that acting is an interesting but challenging profession. Acting shapes the personality of an artist. It allows you to understand life from different perspectives. I think it is due to acting that I managed to be a good daughter-in-law, a genuine wife and a good mother as well,” says Dhar.
Nirmala Dhar is presently residing in Dehradun with her family. She has now made a comeback into acting after a long gap of 13 years. Besides being an actress, she is the Chairman of Alpine group of colleges in Dehradun. Although well settled in Dehradun, Nirmala Dhar harbours a dream of returning to her motherland some day.