LAHORE: God-gifted impersonator, host, director and iconic compare, Umer Sharif, joins the list of around 30 Pakistani comedians who have left millions of fans mourning since October 1960, when the first-ever comedy actor in Pakistani films, Zareef, had transitioned from this realm back to his Creator at a young age of 34.
Having bagged overnight success in title roles, Mohammad Siddique alias Zareef, had departed for his eternal abode at the peak of his career, but not before bringing priceless smiles on the faces of his compatriots who were still reeling with sorrows of a blood-soaked independence. After Zareef, comedian Zulfi made his mark and won many a heart too. He died during the production of film “Pardais” in London on September 11, 1969. Zulfi played a lot of minor roles along with the likes of Rangeela and Munawwar Zareef.
Zareef’s younger brother, Munawwar Zareef, widely acknowledged as the uncrowned “Comedy King of Pakistan” ruled the roost till his untimely demise some 45 years ago on April 29, 1976 in Lahore. He was 36 only. Munawwar Zareef was the highest paid film actor of his time and the extent of his fame and popularity among the masses could be gauged from the fact that dozens of thousands of people from all walks of life had attended his funeral, and many could not participate.
Munawwar appeared in many blockbusters like Heer Ranjha, Banarsi Thug, Shareef Badmash, Bao Ji, Zidi, Khushya, Jeera Blade, Naukar Wohti Da and Anjam, etc during his illustrious career. Possessing a subtle sense of humour and wit, Munawwar Zareef, exactly knew what would make his audience laugh. His death had left a huge void in the hearts and minds of his ardent admirers.
Syed Muzaffar Husain Zaidi alias Nirala had died on December 9, 1985 in Karachi. His superb performances in films Armaan, Aur Bhi Gham Hain and Choroan Ka Badshah are still remembered by cine-goers for the laughter studded in them. Nirala started his professional career as a comedian in the film industry in 1960 and became so popular that he was invited to private parties, social get-togethers and stage shows around the country to perform.
The ever-green, Rafi Khawar alias Nanna, committed suicide on June 2, 1986 in Lahore. Although his first Urdu film "Watan Ka Sipahi" was released in 1966, Nanna got a breakthrough from film Noukar in 1975. His pair with Ali Ejaz was admired since the release of film "Insaniyat" in 1967. Nanna was regarded as an exceptional comedy talent and people throughout the country still remember his hit serial “Alif Noon” with Kamal Ahmed Rizvi for a very long time.
The otherwise Pashto-speaking Syed Sher Khan alias Saleem Nasir was fluent in Urdu productions too. The extremely versatile Saleem Nasir also died fairly young at 44 on October 19, 1989. Television viewers still cherish the memories of Saleem’s roles in super-hit television serials like Aangan Terha, Dastak, Akhri Chatan and Unkahi, etc.
Decorated TV host and anchor Professor Dildar Pervaiz Bhatti had a fatal heart attack in New York after a performance on October 30, 1994. His well-known TV shows include Takra, Yadish Bukhair and Mela, etc.
Stage comedian, Abid Khan, was a very popular stage artist who also showed his unmatched talent in several television serials and films. Having had an extensive fan base both in Pakistan and abroad, Abid passed away in 2000 while on a pilgrimage at Hazrat Bari Imam’s shrine in Islamabad.
Renowned TV artist, Latif Kapadia, died of cardio-respiratory arrest in Karachi on March 28, 2002. He had gained immense fame from the once most watched Pakistani television programmes “Fifty-Fifty". Kapadia was known for his controlled and cultivated humour.
Legendary Punjabi stage comedian, Shauqi Khan, died in a car accident in February 2003, while he was on his way from Lahore to Kasur. He had won a lot of eminence through his comedy audio cassettes, more than 300 in fact.
Refreshing and witty comedian Akhtar Hussain alias Albela died of heart failure in Lahore on July 16, 2004. Although he performed in movies like Wardatia, Badnam, Yaar Maar, Ishq Nachawe Gali Gali, Allah Ditta, International Lutairay and Abdullah the Great, etc, his magnificent theatre shows had actually won him most public applause.
Saeed Khan alias Rangeela died on May 24, 2005 in Lahore. Having appeared in more than 550 films, Rangeela was a body-builder, painter, actor, hero, comedian, producer, director, writer, singer, distributor and composer all at the same time. Rangeela made his debut in a 1958 Punjabi film called “Jatti” and never looked back since. Distinguished comedian Jamshed Ansari breathed his last on August 24, 2005 in Karachi. He was famous for playing characters like “Hasnat Bhai” and “Uncle Urfi” in television serials.
The superb and urbane, Moin Akhtar, had succumbed to cardiac arrest in April 2011. Moin was known for his punch lines, spontaneity and timing of his dialogues. This legend had displayed for decades how a blend of extempore verbal content, acting, body language and persona could make the viewers and audience burst into an instant laughter.
It was also during April 2011 that famous comedian, Ayub Akhtar alias Babu Baral, had passed away after prolonged illness at the age of 47.
And by the way, the month of April in 2011 had seen another renowned and talented comic actor Murtaza Hasan alias Mastana passing away at the Bahawalpur’s Victoria Hospital.
On May 31, 2011, Pakistani comedian Liaquat Soldier had died while participating in a TV show organized for the Pakistan-India World Cup semifinal match that India went on to win.
Legendary comedian, Safirullah Siddiqui, commonly known as Lehri, had died in September 2012. He was suffering from a lung disease, kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart issues.
In July 2014, renowned Pakistani comedian and stage actor Mahmood Khan had passed away at the Mayo Hospital, Lahore. On December 17, 2015, immensely popular playwright, comedy writer and actor Syed Kamal Ahmed Rizvi had passed away in Karachi. He wrote and starred in the comedy series Alif Noon (1981-82 TV season), and won the Pride of Performance award in 1989.
In August 2015, well-known comedian-cum-stage actor, Fareed Khan, passed away in abject poverty and after having seen many vicissitudes of life. Brilliant comedian, Khwaja Akmal, was a veteran Pakistani television actor and comedian who was mostly popular for playing comic roles in Pakistani sitcoms. His notable work includes Bulbulay and Rusgullay, etc. He died of a heart attack on November 26, 2017.
Magnificent film and television actor and comedian, Ali Ejaz, was yet another famous Pakistani who died of a heart attack. His stay on the planet ended on December 19, 2018. He was 77. As stated above, his partnership with the late comedian, Rafi Khawar alias Nanna, in lead comic roles had earned him eternal fame, while his television drama ‘Khwaja & Sons’ had won him great acclaim too.
On February 21, 2020, stage comedian Nadeem Baral had passed away. On December 25, 2019, yet another Pakistani comedian and stage actor, Ashraf Rahi, had left the planet. On March 6, 2020, Pakistani veteran comedian, Amanullah Khan, had passed away. He was an undisputed king of Punjabi theater. His interaction with the audience was always worth noting, even when the performance was structured or choreographed. Having worked very hard to hone his skills, Amanullah Khan never cared or worried about balancing life with work.
On August 12, 2021, Durdana Butt, best known for starring in PTV’s hit comedy series "Fifty Fifty," had passed away. The humorous and insightful Durdana was suffering from coronavirus.
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