Tuesday February 07, 2023

A legend dies

By Editorial Board
November 26, 2022

The past few months have been devastating for the comedy scene in Pakistan; we lost Masood Khawaja in June and then Tariq Teddy last week. Now the death of Ismail Tara at age 73 has left another void that will be hard to fill. Tara was a comedian par excellence with his outstanding performances for cinema, stage, and television. He started entertaining his audiences in Karachi from an early age and by his early 20s he was already a well-known name in comedy circles well beyond Karachi. His appearances on PTV displayed his talents to wider viewership in the 1970s and then he rose to the top of his fame through Fifty-Fifty, a comedy show that enthralled viewers across the country.

By the early 1980s, he was one of the most sought-after comedians in plays and shows but nothing could surpass Fifty-Fifty that inspired many other similar shows and which cemented Tara’s status as the iconic 'disco-chor'. Tara was one of the classiest comedians in the country that has not seen the likes of him in decades. By forming a pair with fellow star Majid Jahangir he presented some of the most memorable comedy skits and programmes that viewers have not forgotten in decades. The duo established its distinct identity and did not imitate other comedy duos such as that of Allan-Nannha or Rangeela-Munawwar Zareef. Ismail Tara performed skits that were quite daring for his times.

Good comedy plays a cathartic role in society by presenting a candid look at things that people see but do not observe. Tara exposed through his jokes and anecdotes social ills that otherwise become normal and unnoticeable. His jibes at the double standards endeared him to his listeners and viewers. He was also a writer of considerable merit with some scripts of popular shows in the 1980s to his credit. In a way he was ruling the small screen while the big screen was churning out violent movies and below par performances with mediocre actors. He had assumed the status of comedy legend with his prominence with iconic performances. In the past 20 years or so, after his health started declining and he appeared rarely on screen or on stage, there was hardly anyone to replace him. Ismail Tara’s unique place in comedy has left an indelible mark on the minds of Pakistani viewers and across the borders too. The disco-chor will be missed by millions.