Agha Hashar Kashmiri

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Agha Hashar Kashmiri
Personal details
Born Muhammad Shah
1 April 1879
Amritsar, Punjab Province (British India), now Amritsar District, Punjab, India
Died 28 April 1935 (aged 56)
Lahore, Punjab Province (British India), now Punjab, Pakistan

Agha Hashar Kashmiri (3 April 1879 – 28 April 1935) was an eminent Urdu poet, playwright and dramatist who was called the "Shakespeare of Urdu." A number of his plays were actually Indian Shakespearean adaptations.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in 1879 as Muhammad Shah, he soon opted to be called as 'Agha Hashar Kashmiri' after finding out that his roots were actually in Kashmir. He could not get higher education due to his lack of interest in text books. He started to show interest in stage dramas and moved to Bombay at the young age of 18 and started his career as a playwright there.[2][3]


An influential Parsi theatre playwright, Agha Hashar Kashmiri'is first play, Aftab-e-Muhabbat, was published in 1897. He started his professional career as a drama writer for the New Alfred Theatrical Company in Bombay, on a salary of only 15 Rs. per month. Mureed-e-Shak, his first play for the company, was an adaptation of Shakespeare's play The Winter's Tale. It proved to be a success and his wages were later raised to Rs. 40 per month due to his growing popularity. In his works, Agha had experience introducing shorter songs and dialogues with idioms and poetic virtues in plays. He then wrote several more adaptations of Shakespeare's plays, including Shabeed-e-Naaz (or Achuta Daaman in Hindi), Measure for Measure, 1902) and Shabeed-e-Havas (King John, 1907).

Yahudi Ki Ladki (The Daughter of a Jew), published in 1915, became his best known work. In the coming years, it became a classic in Parsi-Urdu theatre. It was adapted several times in the silent film and early talkies eras, notably Yahudi Ki Ladki (1933) by New Theatres, and by Bimal Roy, as Yahudi (1958) starring Dilip Kumar, Meena Kumari and Sohrab Modi.[4][5]

His most remarkable[citation needed] plays are Sita Banbas, based on the Ramayana; Bilwa Mangal, a social play on the life of a poet with a passion for whores; Aankh ka Nasha (The Witchery of the Eyes) which deals with themes of treachery and the evils of prostitution; and Rustom O Sohrab, a Persian folk story and tragedy.[1][6] Several of his notable Shakespeare-inspired plays are Safed Khoon (White Blood), based on King Lear and Khwab-e-Hasti (The Dream World of Existence) described as "a mutilated version of Macbeth."[6][7]

Towards the end of his career, Agha created the Shakespeare Theatrical Company but could not stay in business for long. He also joined Maidan Theatre – a tented theatre to accommodate large audiences – where he earned a credible name in Urdu drama and poetry. He later moved to Lahore to experiment in film production, but died before the completion of his first film on 28 April 1935. He was buried in Miani Sahib graveyard in Lahore.

Agha was married to Mukhtar Begum, a renowned classical singer from Calcutta and elder sister of Farida Khanum- a Pakistani singer.

His ghazals featured in film and television[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Bilwa Mangal". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 6 May 2016. 
  2. ^, Agha Hashar Kashmiri article on Dawn newspaper, Published 30 April 2005, Retrieved 6 May 2016
  3. ^, Retrieved 6 May 2016
  4. ^ Ashish Rajadhyaksha; Paul Willemen (2014). Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema. Taylor & Francis. p. 1994. ISBN 978-1-135-94325-7. , Retrieved 6 May 2016
  5. ^ Meghnad Desai (2013). PAKEEZAH. HarperCollins Publishers India. pp. 44–. ISBN 978-93-5116-023-6. , Retrieved 6 May 2016
  6. ^ a b Hochman, Stanley (1 January 1984). McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama: An International Reference Work in 5 Volumes. VNR AG. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-07-079169-5. Retrieved 6 May 2016. 
  7. ^ Gāragī, Balawanta (1962). Theatre in India. Theatre Arts Books. p. 156. Retrieved 3 October 2012. , Retrieved 6 May 2016
  8. ^, Ghazal by Agha Hashar Kashmiri, sung by Tina Sani on YouTube, Retrieved 6 May 2016
  9. ^, Ghazal by Agha Hashar Kashmiri, sung by Naseem Begum on YouTube, Retrieved 6 May 2016