What kind of a life a comedian lives is something everybody wants to know. Nuzhat Mushtaq talks to one such comedian to understand struggle behind the smiles
Shabeer Hakak, 37, opens the door of his living room and sits near the window covered with polythene.
Born at Nawa Bazaar in 1979, Shabeer graduated in commerce from Islamia College Hawal, before joining theatre. “I used to perform in various shows organized in school and college. I was interested in acting since childhood,” says Hakak.
But Hakak’s career as comedian started only after G R Akhoon, a renowned radio personality and writer, saw spark in him. Within few days Akhoon offered Hakak his first comedy show ‘Rang’ to be aired on Radio Kashmir.
“I was the script writer as well as performer in this show,” recalls Hakak with satisfaction.
After the success of Rang, Hakak became part of another show: Geet Ghata Chal – a platform for budding artists to showcase their talent.
“This show helped many artists including Mudasir Ali (Bollywood singer), Suleiman Khan (actor cum singer) Bilal Shahjahan (music teacher at Nawa Kadal) to nurture their talent,” says Hakak, who was one of the participants in the show.
In 2009, when Bollywood actor Naseer-u-din-Shah organized a workshop in Srinagar for budding artists; Hakak couldn’t resist the temptation and joined.
“I attended Shah’s workshop which became turning point of my life, and I started doing theatre also,” he adds.
Around same time, Hakak tried his luck in in television as a comedian. His first comedy serial was “Rish” directed by Hassan Javid and written by Raja Yusuf.
Hakak believes that it was this show that changed his life and made him a comedian as he got tremendous applauds for his performance.
“The dialogue ‘Guleii lageii Sabras’ was most memorable one. People still remember me for that line,” says Hakak with a smile.
Apart from that Hakak also worked in a serial titled “Daagh” – which talked about mental disorder and drug abuse in Kashmiri society.
“I played the role of Naabe Mott,” says Hakak.
Indian National Trust Art Culture and Heritage (INTACH) had appointed him as resource person on different events in order to teach children about theatre.
“I organized week long workshop with children hailing from far flung areas so that they can get confidence to face audience which is important part in theatre,” says Hakak.
He also writes Ghazals, Noha, Naats. He has also written many humorous dialogues mostly in Kashmiri. He is quite interested in promoting Kashmiri language through his work.
Hakak also works as media advisor for Sufi Cultural Society. “My main motive is to take Sufism in every home by which we can understand the equality, spirituality very clearly,” he says.
Hakak laments the usual lack of respect for the comedians who he says are professional like doctors and engineers.
According to Information Broadcasting rule, it is a norm that if an artist stands in front of camera for 9 seconds he is eligible for payment. “But here an artist is taken for a ride and often compelled to work for free of cost. On top of that they treat you miserably,” he laments.
Hakak believe that an artist’s life is full of struggle, a never ending one.
Around 37 thousand people, including director, producer, actors, technical staff and spot boys etc. are directly and indirectly connected with this industry in Kashmir, says Hakak. “Recently we protested against the Prasar Bharti as 104 proposals are pending with them since years,” claims Hakak. “But nothing has happened. How can we manage our lives if there is no work.”
In his decades long career Hakak has won many awards including Dr Ali Jan Memorial Trust Life achievement award in 2013.
Apart from that he also won an award for directing a film titled ‘Children’s in Chains’.
Hakak dreams of opening a Regional School of Drama (RSD). “I want to help children become good artists and groom them from an early state.”