Instep Today

Remembering Talat Hussain (1940-2024)

By Nosheen Sabeeh
Sun, 06, 24

Veteran Pakistani actor Talat Hussain passed away in Karachi on Sunday, May 26, 2024, at the age of 83, after battling a prolonged illness. Hussain left behind a rich legacy as one of Pakistan’s finest and most versatile actors, captivating audiences for over six decades. He is survived by his wife Rakhshanda Hussain, two daughters, and one son.

Remembering Talat Hussain (1940-2024)

Early life

Talat Hussain Warsi was born on Sept-ember 18, 1940, in Delhi, then-British India, to Altaf Hussain Warsi and Shaista Begum, a pioneering voice of Radio Pakistan, Karachi. His family migrated to Pakistan after the partition in 1947.

While pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree at Islamia College, his interest in the performing arts grew. His artistic journey began by honing his voice acting skills under the guidance of Qamar Jamil, a senior producer at Radio Pakistan. He then embarked on a career with Radio Pakistan as a voiceover artist. By 1967, when television had already arrived in Pakistan, he transitioned into acting in television dramas with Arjumand, marking his debut role. Seeking to deepen his understanding of the craft, he journeyed to the UK in 1972, enrolling at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. During his time in England, he expanded his repertoire, appearing in television series and radio plays, including It Ain’t Half Hot Mum and Crown Coat. Actress Tazeen Hussain is the daughter of the late acting giant.

A longstanding

collaboration and deep admiration

Mohammad Ahmed Shah, President of the Arts Council of Pakistan, shared a heartfelt tribute reflecting on his close association with Talat Hussain.

Their working relation-ship spanned over four decades, with Shah high-lighting Hussain’s presence on the Council’s governing body for more than 20 years. He spoke of Hussain not just as a talented actor, but also as a mentor and an elder brother.

Praising Hussain’s dedi-cation to nurturing young talent, Shah acknowledged his significant contribution to the industry’s future. He concluded by calling Hussain a “great director, actor, and educated person,” expressing that his passing leaves a “big void” in Pakistan’s artistic landscape.

Talat Hussain in Jinnah, in the role of a refugee
Talat Hussain in Jinnah, in the role of a refugee

Film career

Talat Hussain made his film debut in 1961 with Chirag Jalta Raha, where he played the role of younger brother of actress Deeba. He went on to build a distinguished film career, collaborating with renowned actors like Muhammad Ali, Zeba, Nadeem Baig, Abid Ali, and Shabnam in films such as Insaan Aur Aadmi, and Souten Ki Beti featuring Rekha and Jeetendra.

Other notable films include Gumnaam, Miss Bangkok, Baaghi, and Actor in Law. He also played a significant role in the Norwegian film Import-Eksport (2005) and made a special appearance in Jamil Dehlavi’s Jinnah (1998).

Talat Hussain with Faysal Qureshi
Talat Hussain with Faysal Qureshi

Television and theatre

His television career flourished with captivating performances in drama serials such as Shaheen, during the 1970s and 1980s, where his portrayal of a priest deeply resonated with the audience. His other notable TV plays include Bandish, Karwaan, Hawain, Parachaiyan, Aansoo, and many others. Renowned for his stage presence, Hussain’s theatre work in Pakistan and abroad continues to be admired. His famous stage plays include Andhera Ujala, Raz o Niaz, Sufaid Khoon, Khalid Ki Khala, Jo Chalay To Jaan Sey Guzar Gayey, among many others.

A missed masterpiece: Talat Hussain in Traffik

Originally aired on Channel 4 in 1989 in the United Kingdom, this six-part miniseries delves into the complex world of the international drug trade.

It focuses on the interconnected lives of individuals involved in trafficking and enforcement efforts.

Talat Hussain played Tariq Butt, a Pakistani character involved in the drug trade. His performance added significant depth to the storyline, authentically depicting the socio-economic conditions driving opium production in Pakistan. Traffik was critically acclaimed for its gritty, realistic depiction of the global drug trade and its human cost. The series won several awards, including an International Emmy for Best Drama and a BAFTA Award for Best Drama Serial.

Awards and


Talat Hussain’s talent was recognized throughout his impressive career. He received the prestigious Pride of Performance Award in 1982 and the Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) Award in 2021 by the President of Pakistan, for his outstanding and lasting contribution to the Pakistani arts. His international acclaim included the Amanda Award (2006), also known as the Scandinavian Oscar, for Norwegian film Import-Eksport and two Lux Style Awards for Best Actor (in 2006) and (in 2009) for his work in TV serials, Yeh Bhi Kisi Ki Bayti Hai (Geo TV) and Kabhi Aye Na Judai (PTV), respectively. Notably, the British mini-series Traffik, featuring a significant role by Hussain, won an International Emmy and a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for Best Drama Series in 1989 and 1990, respectively and was said to be the film that inspired Steven Soderbegh’s Oscar-winning film, Traffic.

Talat Hussain with Nadeem Baig
Talat Hussain with Nadeem Baig

An enduring legacy

Talat Hussain will be remembered as a pillar of the Pakistani entertainment industry. His profound impact on television, film, and theatre continues to inspire generations of actors and filmmakers. Talat Hussain’s career is a testament to his exceptional talent and dedication to the performing arts. In 2012, he joined the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) in Karachi as a faculty member, where he taught acting. His contributions across multiple mediums have left an indelible mark on his fans and the industry, earning him a place among the most respected and beloved figures in Pakistani entertainment.

Talat Hussain’s career was documented by the author Huma Mir in the book Yeh Hain Talat Hussain. In 2014, tributes were paid to him at an event at the Arts Council of Pakistan in Karachi by many television personalities, including playwright Haseena Moin, veteran TV actor and playwright Kamal Ahmed Rizvi, journalist Mazhar Abbas, and veteran TV actor Qazi Wajid.

In recent years, Talal Hussain was battling dementia, which significantly impacted his health.

His daughter, Tazeen Hussain, revealed that he experienced severe memory loss and physical decline, making it difficult for him to recognize people. Despite these health struggles, his legacy in the arts continues to be celebrated by fans and peers alike, who will remember him for his remarkable contributions to the industry. He may be gone, but he will continue to live on through his work for years to come.


The entertainment industry is mourning the loss of a treasured collegue. Renowned actor Adnan Siddiqui expressing deep grief over Talat Hussain’s passing, offering prayers and condolences to his family.“The passing away of Talat Hussain sahib feels like a personal loss. He was not just a co-actor but a guiding force when I did my first-ever play, Khwabon Ki Zanjir. Another of the greats gone,” Siddiqui wrote in an X post.

Actors Laila Wasti, Shahzad Sheikh and Tooba Siddiqui also commented on his passing, offering prayers for Hussain and his family. Meanwhile, seasoned actor Rubina Ashraf took to Instagram to mourn the significant loss. She shared a picture of Hussain, noting that he was not just an accomplished actor but also a teacher and an academy where many industry professionals received their initial training.“Another great gone,” Ashraf said, adding that Hussain will live in people’s hearts forever. Actor Bushra Ansari expressed her condolences on Instagram, writing, “What a loss”. In an interview with Geo News, she added, “Talat was an elegant and civilised actor”. She praised his voice, noting that he spoke beautifully and had a great personality. Actor Humayun Saeed shared his sorrow on Instagram stories, describing Hussain as “a legend and an icon”. “Deeply saddened to learn about Talat Hussain sahab’s passing… May Allah bless his soul,” Saeed wrote. Meanwhile, Nabeel Zafar, who collaborated with Hussain in several popular drama serials during the late 1990s, said the veteran actor would be deeply missed. Actor Aijaz Aslam also paid homage to Hussain, saying his legacy would live on through the lives he touched.

Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz also offered her condolences to Hussain’s family, paying tribute to his distinguished contributions to the art of acting. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his grief as well, describing Hussain as a “legendary actor” praised for his dialogue delivery. Several other prominent political leaders, including PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, also said the renowned actor was a “perfect figure” in Pakistan’s film and acting industry. In a statement posted on X, Bilawal said Hussain would “always remain alive in the hearts of Pakistanis” and extended his symphaties to the actor’s family and fans. The renowned actor was laid to rest in Karachi’s DHA Phase 8 area, with several showbiz personalities and politicians, including Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori, attending the funeral.

Talat Hussain with Hamza Ali Abbasi
Talat Hussain with Hamza Ali Abbasi

An inspiration

Talat Hussain’s life and career serve as a testament to the transformative power of artistic expression. His dedication to his craft and his ability to connect with audiences across genres and borders solidify him as a legend in the Pakistani industry and beyond.

Though he may be gone, he will live on through his work, which will continue to inspire future generations of artists in the field of voice-acting, theatre, cinema and television.

A towering legend in many ways, Hussain sahib, you will be truly missed.

Talat Hussain’s career is a testament to his exceptional talent and dedication to the performing arts. In 2012, he joined the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) in Karachi as a faculty member, where he taught acting. His contributions across multiple mediums have left an indelible mark on his fans and the industry.