Farewell, comedy's greatest legend -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Farewell, comedy’s greatest legend

By Hani Taha

I couldn’t help but cry. The man who had educated me on Pakistani satire and wit, through my formative years when I was a culturally-bereft expatriate growing up in Saudi Arabia, was no more. To call Moin Akhtar an institution of comedy and acting is an understatement of the power house of talent that the man was.

And gauging from reactions of the handful of comedians that he worked with – imitable talents in their own right – Moin was more than just an actor: he was a dear friend and benefactor to many people. Omar Sahrif and Zeba Shahnaz couldn’t stop crying on primetime television for hours on end. Sharif recalled how he had called the MQM’s Altaf Hussain to help a senior comedian, Lahri.

The Times of India journalists who had flown in for the weekend’s Bridal Couture Week, who I was entertaining for the day, couldn’t believe that an actor could have so profoundly affected someone as young as me. The entertainment industry is known for its fickleness and for quickly forgetting ebbing stars that become seemingly irrelevant in the larger scheme of things.

And while journalists like my mother (who began her career with show biz and even secured autographs for her knee-high children from stars like Moin Akhtar) wept inconsolably, an entertainment network was so brazenly unaffected that it went on with the show, without even a moment’s silence to acknowledge the demise of what will be Pakistan’s greatest loss in its acting history.

The show must go on, as it always does, and with a massive Indian fashion brand in the house that had come in especially for the event, one couldn’t begrudge the organisers for not cancelling the shows altogether.

But it was severely disappointing and heart wrenching to see that a woman who was responsible for giving television some of its best moments in recent times was so unmoved that the basest of gestures like an announcement or a minute’s silence couldnÂ’t be observed. For professionalism’s sake, JJ Valaya’s show should have proceeded since he had a flight to catch back home, but what of the agonisingly late shows from local designers? Surely they could have waited.

I searched the crowd to find people who would feel as I did. Sadly there were none.

I still remember Moin’s dialogues from “Anghan Terha” where he did a brief but memorable role as a journalist. What a poignant commentary that was on the state of writers in this country: abject and wretched, with no system in place to channelise their talent.

“Four hundred with food,” my brother and I would joke, repeating those golden Anwar Maqsood dialogues. “Jo kaha tha meinay sach tha jo suna tha who nahin tha.”

For me, the loss is multifaceted: personally, a childhood icon gone, as a fan who will never see him don his many avatars again, and as a journalist, who will never get to interview the greatest comic legend that this country has seen.
Source: The Express Tribune
Date:4/23/2011