How could one read about Fifty Fifty on ATP and not think of the guy who probably ranks among the top masters of Pakistani television comedy: Moeen Akhtar. (Read an interview with Moeen Akhtar, here).
Moeen Akhtar, a young skinny man from Karachi, started his career in 1966 with a variety show, and before long became a face familiar across the nation for acting on TV, movies, stage and theatre, hosting of variety shows, and humorous impersonations of famous personalities (including actors Muhammad Ali, Waheed Murad, Dilip Kumar, and singers Mehdi Hasan and Ahmad Rushdi).
For a sampling of Moeen Akhtar, see this segment from his more recent work in Loose Talk where Moeen Akhtar acts as a Dulha (Groom) complaining about the Supreme Court decision on serving food at marriages. [You can view it here by clicking on the play (arrow) button on the image below, or go to video.google to see this and more].
Moeen Akhtar, to my generation, is what Zia Mohiuddin was to the generation before me. In the past 40 or so years Moeen Akhtar has performed in, and hosted, thousands of shows in Pakistan and abroad, and is arguably the finest actor / comedian / host that Pakistan has produced.
To the Karachi based audience, especially those who watched stage shows with the Omar Sharif & Moeen Akhtar duo in the mid-eighties, he is a legend. I still watch reruns of Buddha Ghar per hai whenever I can. The stage shows have simply not been the same since he left the circuit to pursue other aspirations.
Over his career, Moeen Akhtar starred in many television dramas and live comedy events (including the special televised programs during marathon election night broadcasts and the annual television awards shows). The TV audience from the 80′s and 90′s will distinctly, and fondly, remember the trio of Moeen Akhtar, Anwar Maqsood and Bushra Ansari that brought laughters to many households.
One of his favorite producers was Shoaib Mansoor, about whom ATP has already written before. One of Moeen Akhtar’s more memorable roles was as Rozi, where he cross-dressed and played the counterpart of Dustin Hoffman (from American movie Tootsie (1982). Not to be left behind, Moeen Akhtar also did films (e.g. Taaj Daar) and songs. For some of the uninitiated, the image of Mehdi Hasan engraved on their minds is actually that of impersonating Moeen Akhtar twisting his mouth and rolling his eyes to make the notes come out!
He has parodied in several languages, including English, Sindhi, Punjabi, Memon, Pushto, Gujarati, bengali and others, while in the Urdu-speaking world, he is beloved for providing great humor for people of all ages, and with an etiquette that remains unmatched.
A few years ago, he suffered a heart attack and was admitted into the hospital. His fan base, in both India and Pakistan, and now spread all over the world as well, was gravely concerned for his health. Thankfully, he has recovered and from what I can see, he is back in action on the variety show circuit as well as TV. He has been working again with Anwar Maqsood on a satiric talk-show called Loose Talk on ARY TV (see video above).
In an interview with Mashrique, Moeen Akhtar said: “I want to stay alive in the hearts and minds of the people, even after I am gone.” As a fan who has followed and thorughly enjoyed his work for at least two decades, I can already guarantee him that.
Dr. Bilal Zuberi is Vice President of Product Development at GEO2 Technologies in Boston (MA), USA. See more at Bilal’s blog: BZNotes.