So much has happened in Pakistan since 2011, but there is one person who we still haven’t managed to forget even after a year’s passing — the great artist Moin Akhtar.
But the real devastation of this loss has been felt by his peers and his family; these were the people who loved him and worked with him for over three decades. To pay a tribute to his comic genius and his acting brilliance, many known names from the world of showbiz and entertainment turned up on Saturday for ‘Bayad-i-Moin Akhtar’, an event put together by the Karachi Film and TV Journalists Welfare Association in collaboration with Fun Rama Arts and Entertainment at City Auditorium in Karachi.
Breaking into the industry
Theatre director Furqan Haider recalled, “Akhtar started his career with theatre. He gave Karachi theatre its first commercially viable drama. One of his first dramas was presented at Lahore’s Kinnaird College for Women. But soon after, he moved into hosting television shows as he realised that new trends were quickly setting in.”
Just a comedian?
Regarding his artistry, veteran film actor Mustafa Qureshi said, “Calling him a comedian only would be a great travesty. He wasn’t just a comedian but a true performer, an artist.”
Singer Saleem Javed recalled fondly, “I still remember that my first performance was in one of his shows. There is no doubt that he was a great artist, but having interacted with him, I know that he was an even better human being.”
Actor Shehzad Raza recalled that 25 years ago, Akhtar handed him an envelope with a sum of Rs11,000, a considerably large sum in those days, as a gift on the day of his marriage. What Akhtar might not have known when he was alive was that the money was a godsend for Raza as it tremendously helped him during his newly-married life.
A better place
Qureshi added, “I still can’t believe he’s left us. Without him, the world seems like a dark place, but we can be sure that Akhtar has now gone to a much better place.”
On his popularity with Pakistani expatriates abroad, his close friend Gohar Anjum said, “Take any part of the world, if there is even a single person who understands Urdu there, he will surely know, love and appreciate Moin.”
A nation indebted
Producer Qasim Jalali said that Akhtar devoted his entire life to the field of arts. And that is a gift that can never be repaid and Pakistani audiences will forever remain indebted to him for his efforts.
Preserving his memory
Towards the end, Akhtar’s son Mansoor Akhtar came on to the podium and said, “One year has gone by and we feel this loss every day. Although gestures like naming an auditorium, park or road in his name are appreciated, in order to really preserve his memory, it would be best to build a mosque in his name. Even better would be to pray for him. That’s what he would have really wanted and asked for from his fans.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2012.