In Part I, Part II & Part III a chronology of early years of public speaking career of Dildar Pervaiz Bhatti was presented. In this fourth and final part, I will dwell upon the beginning of his stage announcement and program production life, the side of his career for which he was ultimately most known for.
In eleventh & twelfth grades (F.A./F.Sc.) even though we were part of the same debating team, Dildar and I were persuing two different educational and career goals. He was in liberal arts program and was studying subjects such as economics, political science and social studies while I was in the science group. We had only english and urdu classes together. Most of our classmates were from urdu-medium schools and just like our english teachers we all struggled through our english studies. However things were very different in our urdu classes and for most part due to our urdu teacher Syed Ali Abbas Jalalpuri popularly known as ‘Shah Sahab’.
Syed Ali Abbas Jalalpuri was a very sophisticated and highly cultured tall handsome man in his early fifties. He was a scholar in true Iqbalian sense and held Masters Degrees in urdu, persian and philosophy. He had studied urdu-persian classical literature and written many critical essays and scholarly books on the subjects of literature, history and philosophy. Today some of his books are part of prescribed syllabus in many universities and colleges of Pakistan. Shah Sahab was also a short story writer, a play write and a poet and wrote under the pen-name of Ali Abbas Jalalpuri. It was our good luck that we had him as a teacher and mentor. Dildar and I by this time were writing our own speeches and Shah Sahab was kind enough to help us refine our writings. Under his tutelage I too had started writing essays, short stories and poetry under the nom de plume of Nadeem Alvi. Shah Sahab was also editor of our school magazine and gave me much needed encouragement by including my sophomoric work in school publications. Dildar on the other hand took off in a different direction.
Shah Sahab was also in charge of school drama club and directed/produced his own plays. He was going to stage his one urdu play named ‘Shikast’ (Defeat) and he encouraged Dildar and myself to come for the audition. We were given various parts of the script to read on stage. The story of the play revolved around interactions of two generations of two different families. To my surprise I was selected for the role of younger male lead with a bit of singing part. Mehdi Hassan had popularized the ghazal ‘Guloon Main Rang Bharay’..by Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Shah Sahab also had great knowledge of Pakistani classical music and personally knew the likes of Faiz, Mehdi Hassan and Noor Jahan. With permission from Faiz Sahab this famous ghazal was made as opening act of the play. Even though our school did not have music classes, a music master was temporarily engaged to give the cast some basic music and singing lessons.
Dildar was not selected for any of the on-stage parts perhaps because Shah Sahab had him in mind for some more important duties. He gave Dildar multiple responsibilities of Assistant Director, Script Master, Delivery Coach, Prompter and Announcer. Dildar was involved in almost every phase of the production. In my opinion this experience gave Dildar a start towards his latter career on Pakistan TV and stage. We all especially Dildar and Shah Sahab worked very hard to make the play a success. But the seriousness of the theme of the play never disallowed Dildar from making non stop jokes and punching one-liners during the rehearsals. In his role as prompter, during the live performances Dildar would stand along the back side of the open curtain near one end of the stage and with script in his hand would feed on-stage actors their the next line to deliver. It was very hard for us all to ignore his antics and keep a straight face from laughing. Before curtain rise for each act he will appear on stage and make short announcements in his own jovial style. Working with Dildar was sheer fun.
After F.A. /F.Sc. our respective career choices took us in two very different directions. I went on to Government College, Lahore to complete my B.Sc. and then to the USA to study engineering and engineering management. Even though I never formally studied the subjects, the love and appreciation of arts, history and literature Shah Sahab and other teachers had inculcated in us stayed with me for the rest of my life. Dildar’s parents wanted him to follow his father’s foot steps into the profession of law and public service, but he could not shake off the bug of public speaking and stage performance. He went on to study english literature with emphases in drama and classics. After his M.A. in english literature from The University of Punjab, Lahore, he accepted teaching job at Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental (MAO) College, Lahore. Soon after that opportunity came up on Pakistan TV and as they say ‘the rest is history’.
His millions of fans know him from his PTV days. To me and his other close boyhood friends he was just Dildar, a really and truly loveable person that he was. I have put down these memoirs as a personal tribute to my dear friend and have tried to take his fans back to his formative years that only few of us knew. Dildar died in New York on October 30, 1993 where he was performing as Master of Ceremony in a fund raising charity show for Imran Khan‘s Shoukat Khanam Memorial Hospital, Lahore, Pakistan. At the time of his death he was only in his early forties. He may be physically gone but he lives in our memories. I know he is looking down at us with a twinkle in his eyes. Good bye my friend. May God bless his soul. Amen. I will close with a couplet from the same famous ghazal of Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
qafas udaas hai yaro saba se kuch toe kaho
kahin toe behr-e-khuda aaj zikr-e-yaar chalay