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February 19, 2019

Mustansar stresses need to improve script writing


February 19, 2019

LAHORE: Institute for Art and Culture (IAC) arranged an enlightening lecture by veteran actor & host and prolific writer Mustansar Hussain Tarrar about the history and establishment of television in Pakistan. The versatile actor shared profound memories and unique experiences of his five decades long association with State TV as writer, actor and first-ever morning transmission host.

Students from film and television degree programme took deep interest in inspiring talk. He opined that actors and directors are working brilliantly nowadays but there is dire need of improvement in the script writing area.

The versatile actor revealed that he joined television in 1967 as an actor after losing toss to Fakhar Zaman, a celebrated Punjabi poet and PPP stalwart. He played the role of a psychiatrist with Roohi Bano as his patient, in a captivating play “Choti Choti Baaten” written by Naeem Tahir. Because of his casual style and western training, he became typecast as wealthy, stylish, luxury loving characters. After that he became typecast for the role of extravagant person style but his role as a journalist in landmark TV series “Aik Haqeeqat Aik Afsana” helped him break this stereotype and rediscover himself as an actor.

Talking about the early phase of State TV, Mustansar said that the founding team was very progressive. Despite lack of technical resources, every producer had an obvious intent. In a two-room studio space at the backyard of Radio Pakistan Lahore, the team worked with exemplary dedication and presented qualitative transmission.

When the television shifted to its new building it proved a new universe to explore for all the team. Creative producers, including Nisar Hussain, Yawar Hayat and brilliant scriptwriters like Anwar Sajjad, Ashfaq Ahmad, Naeem Tahir, Safdar Mir and flawless performances by expert actors like Tahira Naqvi, Qavi Khan, Abid Ali, Rohi Bano and others jelled beautifully and resulted in classic serials and programmes that formed the strong foundation of television as visual broadcast medium.

He mentioned that he got the hosting of TV’s landmark morning transmission due to his national attire and casual style. He became instantly popular as Chacha Ji (uncle) among the kids.

He recalled that he felt jubilant and proud when Pakistan Air force (PAF) squad presented him a guard of honour after performing officially guard of honour to Indian Prime Minister Mr Vajpayee, in 1999. Head of PAF salami squad while expressing his sentiments said that we are those obedient kids (beebay bachay) to whom you used to give advice about getting proper education and learn mannerism in TV’s morning transmission. Veteran author also elaborated his love for the City of Lahore and shared that once legend Indian novelist Qurat-ul-Ain Haider visited Lahore, he took her to tour of walled city and showed her the traditional streets, havelis, gates and kochas there. Qurat-ul-Ain was so impressed with cultural and civilisation similarity that she said Lahore is exactly like Lucknow, on which he replied Lahore is Alive, but Lucknow is dead now and she agreed.

Talking about his writing contribution to TV he described that initially he wrote Punjabi plays but Punjabi plays were given bad time and no attention and hence he failed to achieve the proper credit as playwright. After that he chose Urdu language for new plays and got instant recognition as dramatist.

Answering a question, Mustansar Hussain Tarrar replied that after association of 52 years, he had withdrawn himself from the television but have not taken retirement yet.

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