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Jawaid Danish Interviewed in Toronto, November 1990

 

 

Sohail:    Why don't we start our interview by focusing on your plays. I have noticed that in the last year you have become so inspired that you have written five or six plays. I am curious about what changed in the last year that you became so productive?

Danish:  Sohail! I have discovered that drama is my best medium of expression. Because of my circumstances and busy lifestyle I did not have much time to focus on my creative work. I always had a desire to write plays about the problems of immigrants and their lifestyles in North America but I did not find myself ready for that adventure. Last year I started translating some international plays into Urdu. While I was involved in that project my friend F. S. Ejaz asked me to write an essay on how Asian immigrants celebrate "Eid Festival" in North America as he was bringing out a special issue on `Eid' in his magazine `Insha'. I wrote back that I did not write essays so I could not do justice to the topic. He insisted and then one day I thought that why shouldn't I write a play on that topic? That would give me an opportunity to express my feelings and views about the struggles of immigrant families. So I wrote a play called "Eid Ka Karb" which was published in Calcutta and Delhi. It became quite popular. Even my own family members were shocked to read that. Some people want to present it on television. That's how I started writing plays again. After I finished that play one of my single friends came to Toronto. He was looking for a bride. After listening to his stories I wrote another play called "Kanware Bhalay". It focused on how arranged marriages for their children is a big issue for immigrant families. That play was also liked by my friends. After that I felt so inspired that I wrote a few more plays called "Andhi mamta", "Hijrat ke Tamashe", "Bhopa" and "Bara Shair Chota Aadmi". "Bhopa" was published in `Asri Adab' in Delhi. So in this way my collection of plays "Hajrat ke Tamashe" was prepared. I am planning to get it published in Calcutta.  

Sohail:    Every writer has a unique style. After you are inspired what stages do you go through before you complete a play? Do you finish one play in one sitting?  

Danish:   It is very difficult to finish a play in one sitting. Although I have written one or two short plays in one sitting, those were exceptions. In Urdu many writers have written plays for radio or television but any writer who is practically involved in plays as an actor or director writes plays for the stage. He would not like his plays to rest in the casket of books. That is why when a playwright is creating a play, he goes through a unique process in his mind. His first responsibility is to keep in mind the taste of his audience and the physical limitations of the stage. Then he has to prepare the scenes according to stage-craft. The process of creating a play is very different than other creative expressions. When a short story writer or a novelist finishes a story his responsibility ends there; but in writing a play, alongside the plot, dialogues and the characters, the writer is also worried about the direction, lighting, sets and the audience. If the writer is preoccupied only with the script and not with the stage, then the drama could only be published and not staged. One other important factor in plays is the cost of costumes and sets. Many Urdu classical plays are not staged now because the costumes are so expensive that the directors cannot afford them Radio or television people may be able to present plays like `Anarkali' but it could not be presented on stage these days. Public taste and styles of plays have also changed over the years. All over the world there has been increasing use of abstract, symbolic, mime and dance forms in plays. Movements have changed. Modern plays are becoming independent of the props, sets and make-up of the past. Urdu drama has still a long way to go. I have not written any play that could not be staged. I always hoped that one of these days my plays will be presented on stage in Toronto, as it used to be back home.  

Sohail:     How long does it take you to finish a play like "Eid Ka Karb"?  

Danish:   The plot of "Eid Ka Karb" was in my mind long before I wrote it. I was aware of the dilemmas of immigrants during their celebrations whether it is Eid, Holy or Deewali and I wanted to write about it. I wanted to talk about how the old and the new generation experience those cultural days differently. I have witnessed the nostalgic process which goes on in families with my own eyes. So when I started to write, I knew what I had to say. I finished the play in three sittings over two days. The other plays were also finished within a few days. I finished writing half a dozen plays in a few months.  

Sohail:    Some prose writers rewrite their creations many times before they finalize it. What is your experience?  

Danish:  I should acknowledge that I write less. I can always make minor changes but I cannot change the whole plot or do major revisions in my plays. I just cannot do it. Last year I wrote a play, I was not happy with it so I discarded it completely. I can't even keep it aside and work on it after a while, I just get rid of it.  

Sohail:    What comes first, an idea or a character, when one writes a play?  

Danish:   I have an idea or plot or a subject in my mind before I develop the characters. I have to think about the time period and number of characters before I start writing. I also have to bear in mind the feasibility of casting such characters if one has to stage the play. I used to be actively involved in staging plays in my school years. One of the big problems we faced at that time was that we could not find girls to play the roles. So I tried to write plays with very few female characters. We used to ask the boys to dress up as girls to do the roles. I did not like that. It was okay for comedies but not for serious plays. Urdu speaking girls were not permitted by their families to participate in plays. There were times we had to invite Bengali girls to do those roles. I made an interesting observation during my visit to Japan. I had an opportunity to see their classical plays. Even today when they present the traditional "No" plays men dress up as women like in older days. It has always been an interesting debate whether drama is written to be read or staged. I feel that we read dramas of Shakespeare and Agha Hasher with great enthusiasm because they have been staged hundreds of times. They have become classics. I think if those plays had not been successful on stage, they might not have survived.  

Sohail:     What is your style of writing dialogue?  I have read that Agha Hasher used to have a secretary. He used to walk back and forth in his room and dictate the dialogues.  

Danish:        I think that was a romantic image of the classical writers. I don't think most writers in North America would be able to afford a personal secretary. I personally have a weakness - I cannot do my writing in someone else's presence. When the plot is ready in my mind, I write a "one line story". Then I decide on the number of scenes, number of characters and their treatment. Gradually the play shapes itself in my mind step by step.  

Sohail:         Each writer is different. Some writers write regularly in spite of their busy life while others wait for holidays or travelling to write. How does day-to-day life affect your creative work?  

Danish:        I think that is my weakness. If I am worried about something in my day-to-day life, I cannot write. I think that lucky are the writers who can write in spite of their worries and problems. I have written things when I was worried but it is not the same. I like to be alone and free of worries before I write. I have to withdraw from my friends and family members to do my creative work.  

Sohail:         I heard that when you were in New York you staged a few plays. You were the writer, actor and director of those plays. You even received prizes for those plays. What was the inspiration?  

Danish:        When I came to New York, some of my friends were aware of my involvement with plays and acting but I was so preoccupied with the issues of survival that I could not afford the luxury of being on the stage. To survive I found a job in a local television station. I was hoping that I might find work as a scriptwriter but unfortunately all I was offered was a job writing commercials and jingles. It was later on that people on television discovered that I was an actor and also had a good voice, so they started using my voice in commercials. Gradually my voice became so popular that all the commercials for important concerts and star nights were recorded in my voice. I was earning money but I was not happy. I was not even pleased with my popularity. I felt as if I were being used as a machine. When a writer starts using his pen and mind for commercial reasons then it is very difficult for him to do any creative work. I became quite isolated from literary circles. My only involvement was the occasional participation in `mushairas'. Finally in 1984 a one act drama festival was held in New York. Some of my friends encouraged me to participate. Maybe I was waiting for an opportunity as well. I wrote a drama called `Cancer'. I had been thinking about that play for a long time. It had a painful start. My father had suffered from cancer before he died. When the play was finished, we started the rehearsals. I felt that the actor who was cast as the lead did not do justice to the role. It was a sensitive issue - I wanted the main character to be strong. So I decided to play the leading role, which was quite a sentimental one, myself. This was after a ten-year absence from the stage. Actually, that play became quite popular. There were twenty-six plays included in that festival, most of them light comedies. I was not sure whether people would be able to digest my experimental play but I was pleasantly surprised to win first prize. After that play I was inspired again. The next year, which was 1985, my play `I am not Gotam' again won first prize. Later on I stopped participating. I felt as though I were in school again trying to prove to others that I could perform well. I feel that if an artist is genuine and has potential then he should not be worried about proving to others how good he is. After that I did not act on stage but I translated some international plays. During that time I wrote the script, the dialogue and songs for the movie `Koi Hay' but I never received any money or recognition for those efforts. It is a long story. Maybe I will talk about it some other time. As I said earlier, in the last few months I have written a few new plays.  

Sohail:         When you were involved in plays in New York which part, writing, acting or direction, did you enjoy the most?  

Danish:        I enjoy writing the most. I get involved in acting or directing only if no other suitable candidate is available. I would like other people to present my play because if the writer becomes the director, he cannot see his own faults. A director treats the play in a novel way. Directing is an art in itself, and a good director adds new dimensions to the play.  

Sohail:         There was a time when radio dramas were very popular. Manto wrote many radio dramas. Were you ever involved in that?  

Danish:        Yes, I was. In the seventies I was involved with Calcutta radio doing Bengali, Hindi, English and Urdu plays. I was the only person who could perform in four languages. I also translated some plays at that time. It was an unusual situation for a Urdu actor to be accepted for Bengali plays. I was proud of that, because Bengalis are very particular about their plays. Not only did I act in many Bengali plays I also translated and recorded them in Urdu. In August 1987 a famous playwright and director, Padam Shri Habib Tanwir, came to Calcutta with his play `Charan Das Chore'. That drama became extremely popular. I went to interview Habib Tanvir. He appreciated my involvement with Urdu and Bengali plays at the same time and suggested that I should publish a book based on the translations of Bengali plays into Urdu. I was quite encouraged. Some of my translated plays had already been presented on radio. So I put three plays together and published them as `Prometheus'. That was my first book. For that book not only did I get financial support from the West Bengal Urdu Academy, but also received an award from the U.P. Urdu Academy in Luckhnow. After I left India and came to North America, my involvement with radio drama stopped. I find stage plays more enjoyable and challenging than radio drama.  

Sohail:         Once you told me that you were also involved with street plays. How long ago was that?  

Danish:        Street plays are the by product of the active life and convoluted streets of Calcutta. When I was in high school in the late sixties, I considered myself a rebel and was involved in left-wing politics. Left-wing activities seemed very glamorous at that time. Street theatre also appeared very heroic in those days. One needed a lot of courage to perform a play on the street corner especially when emergency conditions were prevailing in the country. It is still considered an integral part of Bengali tradition. Such theatres have become popular not only in other parts of India but all over the world. Although the origins of theatre can be traced back to Greek theatre or the religious theatre to promote Christianity, gradually it became close to ordinary people and was performed in parks, fairs, factories, and on street corners. In the beginning theatre was used for morality plays but with increasing political awareness, it became an effective means of symbolizing for resistance and protest. Gradually it grew popular and became a forceful voice all over the world. Last year there was a great tragedy in Delhi. One of the leading actors, Safdar Hashmi, who used to take part in street plays was killed during his performance.  

                   After I left Calcutta I did not take part in street plays.  

Sohail:         When you were involved in street theatre was you life ever in danger?  

Danish:        I felt scared a couple of times but my life was never in danger. I was a member of a group which was called "Progressive Dramatic Youth". Once we were involved in a political Bengali drama. I was playing the role of a strict police officer. A man in the audience, who was probably drunk, came towards me to attack me. Before he could punch me, other people managed to subdue him. But that was a minor incident. The main thing was that we were all worried we would be arrested by the police. The street theatre was basically anti-establishment and we used to stage plays which were critical of the ruling party in the government. I was always worried but I was never arrested.  

Sohail:         Alongside plays you have also written travelogues. How did you decide to write them?  

Danish:        I was always obsessed with travelling. I wanted to see the world, I had never dreamed that I would be living in North America one day. I am very fond of India and in spite of all its problems, Calcutta is dear to me because that city played a major role in my literary and cultural awareness and growth. I started travelling when I was quite young. I saw many cities of Pakistan and India in my student life. I used to teach and save money so that I could go around the world one day but still I could not save enough. In 1979 I got the opportunity and I left. I had no intension of writing a travelogue, but when I arrived in Paris I started writing detailed letters about my experiences to my brother, sister and friends. In this way the travelogue came into existence. At first it was published in a local newspaper `Mashriq' in Calcutta and later on it was published as a book named "Aawargi".  

Sohail:         I heard that "Aawargi" won a prize.  

Danish:        I received two prizes for that book. The first was from the Luckhnow Academy and the second from the West Bengal Urdu Academy in 1989.  

Sohail:         It seems that your travelogue became quite popular.  

Danish:        Yes, it did. My friends and teachers encouraged me a lot. It was because of that encouragement that when I visited Japan and the Far East, I wrote another travelogue which is being published in different newspapers in India. It is called `Mazeed Aawargi'  

Sohail:         Is `Mazeed Aawargi' a continuation of `Aawargi' or is it completely different?  

Danish:        `Aawargi' was written without any planning while `Mazeed Aawargi' was written according to a well thought out plan. I knew people expected a better product and I tried my best. You will see the difference when you read it.  

Sohail:         Alongside writing plays and travelogues you also write poetry. Are you as interested in poetry as you are in plays?  

Danish:        I think I am most comfortable and confident in writing plays. Travelogues I wrote as an experiment. I enjoy poetry as well but I don't feel very strong about it. I am not very committed to it. Although my collection of poems and their translations are ready to be published I feel that I am primarily a playwright.  

Sohail:         Some writers use their poetry in their plays. Did you ever try that?  

Danish:        I think a good playwright should have some sense of poetry and music. I have used my poetry in my plays in the past. In 1972 my play `Intaqaam' was staged in Calcutta. It was not of very high calibre from a literary point of view but it was successful commercially. I myself had written the songs for that play. I have also used some of my other poems in some plays and they were successful.  

Sohail:         Now let me talk about your personal life for a while. You faced a number of hardships during your life in the United States and Canada. How do you feel when you look back on those years?  

Danish:        For some people life is a constant struggle, for me it is a drama and time is its director. The first act of the drama of my life was very pleasant and memorable, the second act was full of dilemmas and challenges. In 1978 my father got sick unexpectedly and died of cancer within six months. Within a short time I turned from a carefree and adventurous young man to a responsible adult. Being the oldest one in the family I had to look after the duties at home. I had to leave any recreational and cultural activities and work at two jobs to make both ends meet in the family. When I got an opportunity to come to New York I was hoping that the problems would be over, but the difficulties with immigration and doing odd jobs turned into a nightmare. I had to make some money to run the family and because of my vulnerable situation different people around me sucked my blood. My memories of New York are pleasant and bitter at the same time. I didn't have time to look back. When I had had enough of New York, some friends suggested that I should move to Toronto and I did. Even in Toronto I experienced the good and the bad. I sometimes feel that I was not a prophet but I was crucified anyhow. The last decade was hectic but passed very quickly.  

                   I am glad that my life is settling down now. Because of my restless nature I wanted to work independently so I have started a business and I am importing goods to Canada. It seems as if act two of my life has finished and act three has already started. It is hard to believe that a carefree man like me took over the role of his father, arranged for the education of his brother, got his three sisters married off and looked after other domestic responsibilities. I don't know where I got all the courage and strength to do all that, and to fulfil the expectations of my family. Although I lost nearly ten years of my life sorting out many problems, that helped me in understanding the intricacies of life. I think time is a great teacher.  

Sohail:         I am glad you are feeling in control of your life. Tell me about your early upbringing and your parents.  

Danish:        My parents were very caring and decent. They were the ideal parents in the U.P. tradition. As I said, my father died relatively young, but my mother is still alive. I had a pleasant childhood. One of the reasons for that was that I was born after four daughters. I think I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, as they say. My family was thrilled to have me, so I admit they rather spoiled me. I have six sisters and one brother. I was sent to a convent school to have the best education available at that time. I used to be quite mischievous but my mother was pretty strict and still is. At the same time, she is also fearful and worries a lot. My father was not only a well educated man, he also had good literary taste. His name was Mohammed Hanif but he used Aseer as his pen name. He used to write poetry and translate essays and short stories. I inherited my literary taste from my father. I used to go to mushairas as a child. My father's sister's husband, Yousaf Qadeiri, was also a poet. He was a contemporary of Arzu Saharan-puri, Pervez Shahidi, Jurm Mohammed Abadi and many others. I got interested in literature listening to them. One other factor was the overprotective nature of my mother. She did not let me take part in sports. She was afraid that I might get hurt. One afternoon when I sneaked out to play football I slipped and dislocated by elbow. Since that episode I never touched a football. After school I had to stay in the house. There was no television in those days, so I used to get involved with books, of which my father had a good collection. As far as my interest in drama and plays is concerned, I remember that as a child I used to see the folk plays of angels, witches and monsters in the street and enjoyed them thoroughly. The actors used to use a lot of make-up to look like super-beings. It seemed as if they came from some other planet. During those years I was asked to play the role of a prince in a school drama and people liked it. I felt confident and pursued that interest. I was quite successful as a comedian in school. My style changed after I left school but I still miss that role of comedian sometimes. I usually have a comedian role in my serious play to satisfy my need. In spite of my mischievousness, I was quite popular in school.  

Sohail:         Was your family traditional or liberal?  

Danish:        My family was traditional but my father was a liberal man. In his youth he was involved in the "Khaksar Movement" and favoured the Progressive Movement in literature. My mother was also a strick follower of the Luckhnavi tradition. My sisters were educated but in a traditional way. I was spoiled but that also gave me confidence to break with tradition, to find my own way in life. My family was not pleased that I was involved in drama when I was at university. Drama was never respected in Muslim families because they considered it against Islam. I never understood the logic of it. Many respectable people of that society saw stage plays secretly but never admitted it publicly. My father neither encouraged nor discouraged me in that. During my student life one of my poems was published in `Beeswin Sadi'. He bought the magazine with great pride and showed it to my mother.  

Sohail:         Was your family religious?  

Danish:        As I said before women in the family were religious and still are but my father was a liberal man. He was more of a humanist. As far as my own beliefs are concerned I am neither atheist nor ritualistic. I feel that one should keep an open mind. One's view changes as one's life circumstances change. Truth reveals itself to us step by step, not suddenly.  

Sohail:         When you were a student, what profession did you wish to pursue?  

Danish:        Like any middle class family in India and Pakistan, my family wanted their first born son to become a doctor or an engineer. I did very well in school. I stood first in grade eight. After that it was expected that I should take science subjects but I rebelled and pursued arts subjects. My parents were disappointed. My father explained to me that science was very important for entering any profession but I did not change my mind. After finishing school I went to the university and did a B.A. Honours in English literature. Then I started working on my Masters degree hoping to enter the teaching profession after I finished, but because of other obligations I had to discontinue my studies. After my father got sick and I had to take over the family responsibilities I could not continue my studies. My dreams did not come true. I worked in an export firm in Calcutta for a while before I came to New York. During the years I lived in New York I was involved in quite a few jobs, from part-time teacher, working in a restaurant, being a salesman to writing scripts for radio and television. One thing I liked about the West was the dignity of labour I saw here. For the last four years since I came to Toronto I have been working hard. Now I have started an import business on my own. So, I wanted to become a professor but circumstances made me a businessman. Tagore once said "What I seek I get not. What I get I seek not". Time has taught me that it is better to dream new dreams then mourn the old ones. I take out some time from my busy life to do my creative work as it gives me spiritual satisfaction.  

Sohail:         How long did you stay in Aligarh?  

Danish:        About three years?  

Sohail:         You seem to have a special association with Aligarh. You even write "Alig" with your name. What was so special about those three years that you spent there?  

Danish:        Aligarh was a centre of culture and literary activities. That university produced a number of distinguished writers. Aligarh was like a dreamland for me. Alongside regular education, being involved in social, cultural and literary activities gave me a lot of confidence. When I was in Calcutta, I was considered a local figure, but after going to Aligarh, I became involved in dramatic activities at a national level. When I was working with Delhi Radio I met a number of writers and critics who were well known nationally. I felt as though I had come out of a well and had started swimming in an ocean. It was a golden period in my life.  

Sohail:         Was there any writer or artist in Aligarh who impressed you a lot?  

Danish:        In Aligarh I met all those famous writers whose names I used to hear in Calcutta. Some of them I got to know well. I used to meet writers like Moeen Ahsan Jazbi, Khawaja Masood Zauqi and Khalil-ur-Rahman Aazmi quite regularly. I also got to know Shaharyar and Bashir Badr during my stay in Aligarh. I was quite impressed by Habib Tanveer because of his contributions to drama. His play "Aagra Bazaar" had become very famous in those days. Mohammed Hasan has written a few plays too. Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra was translated by Munib-ur-Rahman and became quite popular. I had never met Munib-ur-Rahman in Aligarh - I met him in North America. During those years Zahida Zaidi's "Habib Mamoon" had become well known too. I took part in Sardar Jafri's Documentary "Bazm-e-Yaran" and was invited by Khawaja Ahmed Abbas to audition for his movie "Saat Hindustani" but I could not go. I was also more interested in drama than film. My interest in drama started from Bengali plays. I was impressed by Badal Sarkar, Utpaldat and many more also my contemporaries like Zahir Anwar. My stay in Aligarh, overall, polished my personality.  

Sohail:         How did your thinking and lifestyle change after you came to North America?  

Danish:        I had experienced many taboos and inhibitions during my childhood in Calcutta and youth in Aligarh. I realized that in North America those taboos were absent and society was open minded and liberal, although they had taboos of their own. I felt it was up to each poet and writer how much he benefited from those freedoms but each freedom has its own price. Gradually my thinking and lifestyle changed. Some things I did write in the recent past without fear that I could not have written before because of family, social and political pressures.  

Sohail:         Do you feel just socially liberated since you came to North America or do you also feel liberated ideologically?  

Danish:        I think I was socially liberated even when I was living in Calcutta and Aligarh. I have become more liberal ideologically since I came to North America. My life experiences have made me think more openly.  

Sohail:         Some people feel confused while reading your books. In your first book "Prometheus" there seems to be a left wing inclination while your travelogue "Aawargi" reflects your fondness of religion. Some readers are unsure about your position.  

Danish:        I was neither too inclined to the left nor to the right. My passion was drama. Because more people working in the field in Calcutta had a left wing inclination, I worked with them. If drama was adopted by right wing people I might have joined them in plays but may not have joined them in the mosque. "Prometheus" reflects life in Calcutta so it shows the political chaos. As far as "Aawargi" is concerned, it has a couple of chapters which tell the stories of Muslim immigrant communities in North America. I shared what I saw. I was not discussing my personal point of view or beliefs. I am surprised to be labelled because of those writings. In that travelogue I have also talked about the red light areas of New York, Paris and Copenhagen - would that make me a pornographic writer? I think "Aawargi" was based on the observations and adventures of an enthusiastic traveller without any religious bias. It had no intention of hurting anybody's feelings. It was my first travelogue. I wrote what I saw. Most of the readers are quite pleased with the attempt. In my second travelogue I have been more cautious which has become part of my life too.  

Sohail:         You are quite aware that I was introduced to you by your poem "Main ke Tera pehla lams nehi Tha". I always liked that poem. I was always curious to know what inspired you to write it?  

Danish:        In spite of the struggle and problems, I used to go to the literary get-togethers in New York but I was disappointed listening to the traditional poetry. Despite my limitations I always wanted to break tradition, so I wrote that poem. It was a protest. During that time I was also going out with a woman and she was also a part of my inspiration but I never showed her the poem. I knew my poem would not be accepted by others, so when I recited the poem it was no surprise that most of the people became quiet, although some friends praised it wholeheartedly. Zafar Zaidi and Sahar Fatehpuri were among those who encouraged me. I am glad that that poem brought us together.  

Sohail:         Has coming to North America changed your relationship with women?  

Danish:        I don't think it changed too much. Since I was involved with theatre I was always surrounded by girls and women. I always felt comfortable with them. I was in an atmosphere of radio, television and drama where men and women interacted freely. I had more interaction with Bengali Hindu women as the Muslim women were not allowed by their families to participate in plays. The only difference I felt was that in India only men pursued women but in the West women also pursue men. But unfortunately I was so preoccupied with my responsibilities that I could neither work nor get involved in love affairs wholeheartedly and ten years passed in no time.  

Sohail:         How is your life in Canada different than the way it was in the United States?  

Danish:        I have been living in Canada for four years now. Life in Canada is not much different than in the United States. The pace is different - life in New York was fast and hectic, in Canada it is more peaceful. But I have to work hard to make both ends meet. Gradually I am feeling more settled. My struggles in New York to earn a decent living had suppressed my creativity. Lately I feel as if the creative juices are starting to flow again.  

Sohail:         Now let me ask you a more personal question. I understand you are going back to India after a few years absence and are planning to get married. How did you arrive at the decision to get married?  

Danish:        It is an interesting question. I had never thought seriously about marriage or family when I was a student. After my father's death and while looking after my father's affairs, I had to think seriously about family life. I had to work so hard and at times felt as vulnerable that I felt I needed a partner of life. Some of my friends say that after fulfilling all my responsibility I should enjoy my freedom. Last year I met a woman. Since we thought alike we came closer to each other and finally decided to get married. At the age of 36 I decided to have a partner of life. I think I took my time to decide that.  

Sohail:         How do you think your marital or family life might affect your creativity?  

Danish:        Although my fiance, Uzma, is not a writer herself, she has a keen interest in arts and literature. She is also fond of plays. She always encouraged me and I am hopeful she will keep on doing so. She is proud that I am a writer.  

Sohail:         What are your plans for the next few years?  

Danish:        I would like to devote myself seriously to drama. My friends and teachers are encouraging me. Whether it is Calcutta or Aligarh, New York or Toronto there is a lot of demand for stage plays. I have a dream that I could stage the plays I have written about the issues of Asian immigrants in North America. I am also translating foreign plays into Urdu. If my friends cooperate and encourage me, perhaps I can stage a few good plays.  

Sohail:         When you look back at your life, what do you feel proud of and what do you regret?  

Danish:        When I look back at the last twelve years of my life I feel pleased and satisfied that although I had to sacrifice a big part of my youth, I am glad I could be of help to my family members after my father's death. If I had had more money I would have helped them better. I also realize that because of my responsibilities I could not do my creative work wholeheartedly. If I had not been that involved with my family, I might have written more seriously. Anyhow I don't feel it's hopeless. I still have a long way to go and the sky is the limit. I am still young and the war of life is still on.  

Sohail:         Before we end this interview is there any significant thing I forgot to ask or you want to share?  

Danish:        No, I think we covered a lot. I remembered so many incidents and experiences that I had forgotten. I am thankful that you gave me an opportunity to reminisce. My memory turned out to be better than I expected.  

Sohail:         I am glad that you shared some intimate things about your life. Sometimes I feel that being involved in a drama your personal life has also become melodramatic. Behind the mask of an ever-smiling face I have seen a few glimpses of another Danish - the man that most people don't see. I am pleased that you shared some glimpses of that person who lives behind the mask.  

Danish:        Thank you.

 

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