The previous week saw Pakistan lose two of the finest actors of their generations: Sultana Zafar and Naila Jaffery. Instep remembers:
Known for her fine speech and elegant mannerism, Sultana Zafar will always be recalled as one of the most polished personalities on television in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
We all remember her in all her stately glory, sporting saris the way they were meant to be: draped well and carried with grace, as she spoke in her dulcet, measured tones that surely inspired a whole generation of women to be as well-spoken and polite as possible.
Sultana Zafar appeared in the period drama, Akhri Chattan adapted from Nasim Hijazi’s novel about the Mongol invasions and rule. She portrayed briefly Tanhaiyan’s protagonists Zara and Saniya’s mother. She starred in the popular Uroosa in the ‘90s; a drama that launched the careers of Mishi Khan and Adnan Siddiqui.
Sultana Zafar passed away in Dallas, Texas last week, after being off the screen for several years. While Pakistani television has always set a high bar in terms of talent and content, a certain set of actors certainly set themselves apart, and Sultana Zafar was among them.
Naila Jaffery passed away last week after a long and brave struggle with cancer.
Naila practically lit up any screen and stage she appeared on. With her debut in the ‘90s, Naila Jaffery established herself as the soft-spoken, gentle actor who brought a certain gravity and nuance to every role she played.
Whether she played a housewife, a struggling mother, or older characters, Naila had the kind of personality that pulled her audience in toward her.
Later in her career she turned to acting in theater, and the manner in which she managed to emote during live performances truly spoke for her skills as an actor. Naila Jaffery could command an audience – any audience – without being dramatic. She sat into every character comfortably, making one believe that this was perhaps her own story.
You may not remember her as the most popular actor of all time, nor as the star of any one show, but Naila Jaffery served her craft well, and will be forever missed.