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Fifty-Fifty: The best PTV show ever?

Posted on July 15, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Humor, TV, Movies & Theatre
26 Comments
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Adil Najam

The legendary PTV (Pakistan Television) comedy skit-show from the 1980′s Fifty-Fifty may well be the greatest (one of the greatest?) PTV shows ever. Based loosely on US comedy show Saturday Night Live, it was a revolutionary concept and literally ruled the airwaves like very few shows ever have, before or since.

This is my continuing testimony to the brilliance of Shoaib Mansoor, but in this case it was also the writing excellence of Anwar Maqsood and the versitality of the acting trio Ismail Tara, Majid Jehangir and Zeba Shahnaz which made this show a must-see every week. Here is a short clip from the show. Enjoy!

Click twice on arrow at center, or view it directly here.

See more video clips from Fifty-Fifty here.

26 Comments on “Fifty-Fifty: The best PTV show ever?”

  1. Mariam says:
    July 15th, 2006 10:25 pm

    You’ve made my day :-).

  2. Owais Mughal says:
    July 15th, 2006 10:41 pm

    Fifty Fifty is indeed one of the best program ever to come out of PTV. Here is one of my all time favourites. Ismail Tara was acting as a shop-keeper hailing from NWFP and owned a shop in second-hand cloth market (called landa bazar). A lady comes to shop clothes there and Ismail Tara asks her:

    ” tumaara naam kiya hai baji” ???

    The lady replies: ‘Julie’

    and Ismail Tara says: “wooaay Jooooooolieeee”

    :) :)

  3. Owais Mughal says:
    July 15th, 2006 10:46 pm

    Another gem from the evergreen Fifty-Fifty :)

    Once there was a skit on Pakistan Railway’s emergency
    brakes which I still remember :)

    A family of 4 is shown travelling in a 2nd class
    compartment.

    Ismail Tara and Zeba Shahnaz (shown as a baa-parda
    khatoon) are shown as husband and wife travelling with their
    two sons. One was a 25 year old (Nazir Junior) wearing
    shorts and gallaces, and other was a 5 year old boy.

    The younger son is shown beating and slapping his 20
    year older brother :) at which older son complains to
    father:

    “abba ab hum nahiN khel rahay. Munna maarta hai” :)

    At this, the father looks around the compartment and
    tells his elder son to go and play with the train’s
    emergency brake lever.

    The elder son obliges and leans his weight on
    emergency brake lever as if taking swings and tells
    his father:

    ‘abba abba! hameN buhat maza aa raha hai”

    Of course the train stops suddenly and the guard comes
    to compartment and asks why the emergency chain was
    pulled.

    As Zeba Shahnaz looks towards the guard, Ismail Tara
    tells the guard:

    ‘ ek minute’ and then tucks his wife’s face behind the
    ‘parda’ and moves her face away.

    Then Ismail Tara tells the guard that his son was
    playing with the brakes and he is now willing to pay
    the fine.

    The guard (Majid Jehangir) asks for Rs 50 fine which
    the father pays smilingly.

    The train moves again. Once again the elder son gets
    slapped from his year younger brother :) and once
    again his father suggests him to play with the brakes.

    Train stops again and guard comes to the compartment
    angrily and on knowing the situation asks for Rs 50
    fine again.

    Once again Zeba Shahnaz looks at the guard and once
    again Ismail Tara tucks her face behind ‘parda’ and
    moves her face away :)

    This time the father takes out a Rs 100 note and asks
    the guard to keep the change in case his son pulls the
    brakes again.

    This makes Majid really mad. With angry face he
    asks:

    ” Why are you letting your son play with the brakes
    again and again. This is not a toy but public
    property”

    At this the father replies:

    ” Since Pakistan’s independence we have always seen
    inflationary pressure on prices of everything.
    Everything has increased in price many folds in the
    past 40 years (1980s) except the fine for pulling
    railway emergency brakes. This fine has remained
    constant at Rs 50 since independence so I can happily
    pay this fine as many times as i want”

    At this the guard says:

    ” Oops how come we forgot to raise this price” :)

  4. Owais Mughal says:
    July 15th, 2006 10:48 pm

    Aakhir kitnay aur Dramay ?

    Ashfaq Ahmed is one of the greatest Urdu drama writer But when televised, his dramas somehow turned out to be notoriously slow and philosphical. Fifty Fifty used to make fun of him occasionaly. His drama series ‘aur dramay’ was ridiculed by 50-50 as ‘aakhir kitnay aur dramay ?’ :) :)

  5. Owais Mughal says:
    July 15th, 2006 10:51 pm

    I was watching fifty-fifty recently (probably for the
    thousandth time) and this skit made me laugh my guts
    out :)

    The joke was about Pakistani taxi drivers (equally
    apllicable to Rickshaw drivers also) who don’t take
    passengers if the route or fare is not of their
    choice. In such case they usually say:

    “O’ gaaRi khali nahiN hai” :)

    In this 50-50 skit Majid Jehangir, acting as the
    ‘Taxi/Rickshaw Driver’ is shown living in a single
    room annexe’ with 6 children and a shuttle-cork burqa
    claded wife.

    All 6 children are then shown shouting:

    ” Abbu! Abbu! hameN chiRya ghar le kar chaleN ! ”

    After some thinking, Majid agrees to take his family
    to the Karachi’s zoological gardens.

    This makes all the children very excited. The eldest
    kid who is shown almost 25 year old is shown wearing
    knickers with gallaces and playing with his 2 year old
    sister is the most excited. He starts clapping and
    shouting:

    “ahaa-ji (clap clap) hum chiRya ghar jaayeN ge
    (clap-clap)”

    Whole family starts getting ready. Majid Jehangir is
    shown very happy and holds his youngest boy in lap and
    playfully slapping his child’s cheeks says:

    ” mera ‘munna’ chiRya ghar jaaye ga…. hathi dekhay
    ga…. bhaaloo dekhay ga …. sher dekhay ga
    ….kooochi kooochi koo”

    The family after getting ready, starts going out when
    Majid’s wife tells him:

    ” dekho ji, darwaazay ko achi tarah taala lagaana. aaj
    kal buhat choriaaN ho rahi haiN ”

    Majid snaps back :

    ” O jab tum sub log (a wife & 6 children) meray saath
    ho to peechay is quarter meiN chori honay ke liyay reh
    kiya gaya hai ” :)

    Outside, Majid smilingly removes the terpauline cover
    from his shining taxi while merrily talking to his
    youngest kid all this while.

    Then as soon as he sits on the driver’s seat of his
    taxi, all his smile vanishes. He suddenly becomes very
    stern face and doesn’t seem to recognize his own
    family.

    He then shouts at his own wife:

    ” O gaaRi khali nahiN hai ”

    The family which was ready for the zoo becomes so
    confused that their husband/father is not even
    recognising them. The wife shouts back:

    ” meiN poochti hooN, aakhir tumheN ye Taxi meiN
    beTh-te hi kiya ho jata hai ?? ”

    Majid replies to his wife :

    ” O Maaai, mera sar na khao. bola na! Gaari khali
    nahiN hai. chiRya ghar se wapis khaali aana paRta hai”

    The rest of the family is then shown doing some
    consultations and then Majid’s eldest son (atleast 25
    year old) tells him:

    ” suneN bhai sahab ! Meter se 5 rupees ziyada le lena

    At this Majid thinks for a bit, itches the back of his
    ear for few seconds and then says:

    ” theek hai ! aao beTho ”

    The whole family starts clapping and shouting again:

    ” hum chiRya ghar jaayeN ge… hum chiRya ghar jaayeN
    ge…. (fading sounds)

    :)
    End

  6. Owais Mughal says:
    July 15th, 2006 10:52 pm

    A very hilarious sitauation was once depicted in the famous PTV
    program Fifty-Fifty. They showed 2 ‘Bakras’ on the eve of ‘Eid-ul-
    Azha’ looking at each other and in the back ground they played a
    Romantic-Punjabi song of ‘Madam’ Noor Jehan which had lyrics like
    this:

    chal chaliyay dunya de os nukRay
    jithay banda na banday di zaat ho way

    Trasnslation:

    chalo chaleN dunya ke os konay
    jahaN banda na banday ki zaat ho

  7. July 16th, 2006 1:44 am

    Owais sahab you invaded Adil bhai’s blog:D *joke*

  8. July 16th, 2006 4:41 am

    Well nice share Adil Bhai ! Keep sharing as I dont rememeber it anymore as I was supposed to be a kid at that time and I just remember one or two characters out of them. So I will like to have more.
    Thanks again.

  9. July 16th, 2006 1:10 pm

    Definitely the best Comedy to come out of Pakistan yet !!! Anybody know if there are more on the web ?
    Owais sahab, thank you for rekindling those faded memories of Fifty Fifty…My personal favourite is about the cop pulling over the motorbike rider for speeding and the biker said that his name was “Mustansar Hussain Tararr” !!!

  10. sabizak says:
    July 16th, 2006 1:48 pm

    This post is interesting timing as I had already been thinking about the sorry state of comedy programs in Pakistan now. Though I do happen to think there also have been other great comedy shows on PTV by Anwar Maqsood, such as Showtime etc. Will do a blogpost upon it soon. But this clip was a good idea.

  11. Altamash Mir says:
    July 17th, 2006 1:55 am

    If any of you have GEO TV on Dish Network, do check out a show called “Ulta Seedha”. I find it really funny. Its a production out of Karachi, do check it out.

  12. Saniya A says:
    July 19th, 2006 1:01 pm

    Fifty Fifty is definetly one of THE best shows PTV produced along with dramas like Angan Terha (by Anwar Maqsood) and Ankahi (Haseena Moin) among some others which we still watch like every other Sunday :). Its just really sad the quality of dramas produced now a days is so bad… I can harldy watch anything without getting irritated at the unnecessary glamour and bad acting and usually bad story lines.. *sigh*

  13. zenab says:
    July 26th, 2006 11:42 pm

    can somebody please tell me who was the actress in the rano scene when her husband says “RANO DON’T CRY RANO, I WILL BE BACK” and she replies “PANCHI TE PARINDEY I MEAN BIRD AND PASSENGERS ARE NEVER BACK VE YOU ARE A GREAT LIER I DONUT BELIEVE YOU!!” and he says “RANO YOU JUST SHUT UP RANO” and she says “VE YOU SHUT UP VE!!” I think it was zeba but others think it was bushra ansari. Please please if anyone can answer this question correctly and surely I would realy appreciate it. thanx

  14. Mustafa Zulqarni says:
    August 8th, 2006 10:48 pm

    It could be one of the best comedy shows but not THE best ever.But credits must go to Anwar Maqsood and Shoaib Mansoor to have craeted this for us in the 1980s.
    Each episode was only 20 mins and aired just once a week.Hardhitting punches at the government departments but nothing changed.As someone said,if satirical shows could have changed things,the world would have been paradise by now.Instead things got worse in Pakistan.

    It is sad to see that bad quality pirated VHS prints are being passed off as ‘DVDs’s and sold expensively everywhere.
    PTV has no mechanism and system in place to market its gems in high quality DVDs.Hence the edge PTV once had has almost faded away in the past.

  15. Mustafa Zulqarni says:
    August 9th, 2006 3:47 pm

    I am looking to get Ashfaq Ahmed’s Aik Muhabbat Sau Afsanay aired by PTV in 1975.
    Can someone direct me to a link or contact address where to get them?

  16. Zain Imran says:
    August 13th, 2006 2:16 am

    I was too young to remember this show properly, but I do remember my parents used to watch it regularly. I also seem to recall a show that was loosely based on Alfred Hitchcocks thrillers, could anyone please tell me its name?
    Also I really like the Army show Alpha, Bravo, Charlie.

    They don’t make em like that anymore in Pakistan.

  17. SYED AMAR JALEES ZAIDI says:
    August 29th, 2006 3:51 am

    AQAM -e- ALAM KO KAREEB ANA CHAIYEH MOHABAT KEY SATH.

  18. bhitai says:
    October 6th, 2006 1:19 am

    Fifty fifty was the best ever. Its satire didn’t spare even the program and its cast at times. I vaguely remember the first season (which was supposedly the funniest I’m told). As a karachiite I would love all the overt racism (it made fun of : punjabis, pathans, makranis, beharis, madrasis, memons etc.), but would feel a bit embarassed if I watch it now in the US with my pakistani friends, some of which might feel a bit offended..

  19. November 26th, 2006 6:24 am

    In great comedy, it is essential to get all the elements right and working in tandem with each other. The script, the talent and the production team all came into synch to present this show. With a miniscule budget, these guys created the best comedy show on Pakistan television to date.

    The problem with the sad attempts of comedy on the current Pakistani channels is that haven’t a clue about real satire, or comedy timing or creating topical content. Unfortunately and evidently, the least funniest people are writing comedies these days.

  20. March 6th, 2007 2:32 pm

    [...] Although he has now taken on a broader – even sub-continental – canvas, his early work was very rooted in the Pakistan mega-city culture; especially Karachi and Lahore.  His ‘burger’ kid routine really went home on the social and economic apartheid that still tears at our society. Sometimes the pungency of his jugaat masks the craftsmanship of his theatrical performance, but to me there are very few who command the ’stage’ presence that he does, particularly in the stage play. Indeed, he was to stage comedy in Pakistan was Fifty-Fifty (and here) was to television comedy. [...]

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