Agha Hashar Kashmiri (3 April 1879 – 28 April 1935) was an eminent Urdu poet, playwright and dramatist and was called the “Shakespeare of Urdu”; a number of his plays were actually Indian Shakespearean adaptations. An influential Parsi theatre playwright, he first wrote under contract from Alfred Theatre in Mumbai (then Bombay) from 1901 to 1905, thereafter in 1916 he shifted to Madan Theatre’, Elphinstone and Corinthian companies in Calcutta. He wrote several adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, including Mureed-e-Kaash (A winter tale, 1899), 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 Jew) published in 1915 became his best known work, and in the coming years a classic in Parsi-Urdu theatre. It was adapted several times, in the silent films and the early talkies era, notably Yehudi ki Ladki(1933) byNew Theatres, and by Bimal Roy, as Yahudi (1958) starring Dilip Kumar, Meena Kumari and Sohrab Modi.
His most remarkable plays are Sita banbas, based on the Ramayana; Biwa 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 tragedy. Several of his notable Shakespearan inspired plays are Safed Khoon(White Blood), based on King Lear and Kwab-e-Hasti (The Dream World of Existence) described as “a mutilated version of Macbeth”