Moin Akhtar’s 5th death anniversary today769 views
KARACHI: A legendary versatile actor Moin Akhtar was remembered on his fifth death anniversary on April 22 (today).
He was born on December 24, 1950. The legendary actor entered the entertainment world while in his teens in 1966. He did a parody of famous film actor Muhammad Ali at an award show, which is considered to be the event where he grabbed the attention of a larger audience.
He was also known for his unmatched etiquette; Akhtar could also fluently speak many different languages, including English, Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pashto, Balochi, Gujarati and Hindi.
Iconic Bollywood film stars Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan liked him for his versatility and mastery. He also worked in a few films but returned to the smaller screen.
TV plays, including Rozi, Eid Train, Family 93, Half Plate and Sach Much, were few of the many super hit programmes he starred in besides performing as host and anchor person in many popular shows.
Regarded as one of the greatest actors in Pakistan, Akhtar also won the Pride of Performance award besides many other accolades.
He died on April 22 in 2011, following a cardiac arrest, and was laid to rest in Model Colony graveyard in Karachi.
For more than 40 years, Pakistan’s finest comedian and artiste, Moin Akhtar, performed the hardest task of all without ever getting tired. On April 22, this great actor, impersonator and comedian passed away due to cardiac arrest.
Playwright Anwar Maqsood worked with Moin Akhtar the most, yet he kept a low profile at the latter’s death. He remembers Akhtar as a lovely person, a great artiste and an amazing friend, “I had a lovely time with Moin Akhtar as we were friends for over 40 years — 32 of which we worked together. For the last seven and a half years, we performed together in Loose Talk and each week we came up with a new getup, different dialogues and a catchy scenario. Moin dazzled in each and every episode with his dialogue delivery and amazing portrayals. “Although we fought a lot, especially when he objected to dialogues that went against the government, I always reminded him that governments will pass but our friendship won’t. Furthermore, he was the only person I know in showbiz — anywhere in the world — who used to respect the script given to him. Never did he try to add anything of his own in my scripts. I was surprised to find my old scripts in his room when I went there after he had passed away.”
Veteran actor Qazi Wajid remembers his co-actor of many stage shows and TV dramas and says, “Moin Akhtar was a role model for all since he conducted himself very well on stage. I worked with him in many stage shows — both at home and abroad — and we were planning a trip to the US later this year with Anwar Maqsood. He was a splendid person to be with and a thorough professional who always gave his 100 per cent.”
During the last decade of his career Loose Talk became a hit. “Not everyone can do 400 getups for 400 different episodes of a TV show. That was Moin Akhtar for you. He could do everything right except living his life and although we tried to keep him away from junk food, cold drinks and smoking, he never listened.”
Born on December 24, 1950, Akhtar began his career in 1966 and immediately made a name for himself with his different style of comedy. He could mimic anyone, anytime and his jokes were a breath of fresh air in a country that was witnessing tough times. From the Zia Mohiyuddin Show to Loose Talk, he appeared in countless TV programmes but compèring on TV and hosting shows remained his forte.
Bushra Ansari, with whom he shared the screen and stage on countless occasions, terms his demise a great loss. “Moin’s death is not only my loss (as a friend) but has shocked the entire nation. He was a great artiste, a great compère and a supremely talented individual. People labeled me as a ‘female Moin Akhtar’ and I still consider it as an honour because just being named alongside him is a privilege. The void left by his death will never be filled because people with such talent are born only once.”
Only a couple of months back Akhtar hosted the PTV Awards as well as the Special World Cup Show featuring the Pakistan cricket team on the eve of their departure for the World Cup. Film and TV actor Ahsan Khan, who hosted the PTV Awards with him, can’t believe that he is no more. “During the last PTV awards, where I was part of the hosting team, we had a great time backstage. Moin Saheb was a great inspiration for all of us. He would always encourage you to do what you felt right, and corrected you politely if you did something wrong. He was a deeply religious man and never indulged in vulgar dialogues or approved of them. He was a great performer — a comedian with class — and it is about time that we either dedicate a monument to him or open a museum where the belongings, clippings and documentary on all the actors who have departed should be exhibited.”
Akhtar hosted the PTV Awards since they began and continued to do so till 2011. He also conducted Yes Sir, No Sir in 1988 while in the late ’90s, The Moin Akhtar Show became hugely popular.
Film actor Mustafa Qureshi remembers him for his different style of conducting the proceedings. “Appearing in shows where Moin was compèring helped us as guests because the way he introduced us was grand. He used to make us feel as if we were larger than life, and his style captivated the audience and boosted our confidence. Even legendary actor Dilip Kumar used to inquire about the compère first if asked to appear in a show featuring Indians and Pakistanis, and if it was Moin he would agree to make an appearance.”
He Akhtar didn’t work much in TV plays yet Manzar Imam’s Hanste Banste, Athar Shah Khan’s Family 93 and Rafta Rafta brought laughter to all those who saw them. His stage shows with Umar Sharif — especially Bakra Qistoon Par — is still the most famous of all stage shows produced in Pakistan. Eid Train, Sherry & Josie and Half Plate were the long plays that helped him prove his credentials as a comedian par excellence while Anwar Maqsood’s Show Time and Commercial Time in the ’80s and Studio Dhai and Studio Ponay Teen further elevated his status as a showman.
Be it a Pathan truck driver, a disgruntled politician, a foreign-educated doctor or a Memon Seth (something that made the TV play Such Much a household name at the turn of the century), he was always ready to mimic anyone at the drop of a hat.
There was one side of Akhtar which no one saw — he was a man who kept to himself when off the sets. Friend and colleague Behroze Sabzwari concurs. “I was one of his few colleagues who were close to him, and consider myself lucky. He was a kind-hearted man and always helped those in need without making it known to others. On the sets, he was a great actor who could don any getup and accent. Off it, he was a reserved person who didn’t socialise much. I had worked with him in countless shows and TV plays but never once did he make his co-stars feel less important and that is what made him a lovable person.”
Akhtar worked in a handful of films — Mr. K-2 and Mr. Tabaydaar being a few — and it remained one medium he couldn’t conquer. Veteran actor Mustafa Qureshi, his co-star in his only hit film, Raaz, feels Akhtar was bigger than a film comedian.
“He really didn’t have time for films since stage and TV attracted him. His brand of comedy was different as he went for decent comedy, and his jokes had a message in them. I feel the work he did with Anwar Maqsood deserves a place in record books for 400 getups is no small achievement. As a person, I think he was one of those people who were without any fault. There was nothing wrong in him and that is how he should be remembered.”
Various TV channels and newspapers credited him as a playwright, singer and a director, yet veteran actor Talat Hussain feels that by doing so, Akhtar is not being praised. “We shouldn’t portray him as something which Moin Akhtar wasn’t as we don’t want the world to visualise him as a person who had limited talent in many fields. He was a great performer and a brilliant impersonator. We should admire his greatness for the talent he had and not try to make him seem bigger than he already was. To deliberately add feathers to his cap would be an insult to him.”
He wasn’t loud yet he commanded respect. He wasn’t brash, yet he was loved by his fans all over the world. For a person who dedicated his life to make others laugh, Akhtar’s departure has left all immensely saddened.
Mustafa Qureshi feels the legacy left by Akhtar should be followed by youngsters. “Moin was a man with a mission. His loss is nothing short of a national disaster. He always spoke in a soft and sweet tone and that’s why he had a fan-following which comprised of young and old, men and women, sportspersons and politicians as well as actors from both India and Pakistan. He was a man with many faces —actor, comedian, compère, mimic — I would say that he was a complete actor.”