It is not often that one dares to place a headline as bold as the one above. We have used such superlatives a few times before, but very few: for the dialogues from Maula Jatt, for the blockbuster movie Aina, twice for the PTV show Fifty-Fifty, once for the show and once for its skits (both times with question marks), and once for the miracle cricket match in Sharjah and Miandad’s fabulous sixer to clinch the game on the last ball. Today, we use it again.
This is certainly not the best work of Khalid Abbas Dar – for my money, the most brilliant stand-up comic Pakistan has ever produced (I was never a fan of his stage dramas, but his solo routines, especially the old PTV ones were a superb – but it may well be the funniest hockey commentary ever, anywhere. Khalid sahib’s all-time greatest performance is the “classical” singing he does with made up words – it is side-splitting funny – originally recorded during the 1971 election transmission and recorded multiple times later.
But this performance, from the 1987 PTV Awards show is as hilarious (especially for those who know the context) and probably familiar to more people. I remember being in the audience that day and for many weeks after that this skit was the talk of the country. Especially that last 10 seconds antic from Khalid Abbas Dar, which is a true depiction of his comic genius.
I should confess that this post is triggered directly by the recent post by Syed Ahsan Ali on Pakistan hockey’s chances in the forthcoming Olympics. That set me thinking about the late 1980s, when Pakistan began its slide from the peak of its hockey prowess. I searched for video clips of games from that era and found this instead. I am so glad that I did.
The skit mentions the two pivotal points in Pakistan’s slide downwards. The loss to Korea in the 1986 Asian Games, followed immediately afterwards by ending 11th (out of 12th) in the 1986 London World Cup. I hope that was not the beginning of the ‘end’, but it was certainly the beginning of the slide downwards. Remembe, this was the time when we still believed that the slide was temporary. To be fair, Pakistan did regain the hockey World Cup title in Sydney in 1994, and we are still the country that has won it the most times (four; Holland is catching up with three World Cup titles). But the best seems to be behind us… so very far behind us.
To get a flavor of just how different the times were for Pakistan hockey. Note at the camera getting fixed on Samiullah and (is that?) Hassan Sardar. Both are, literally, squirming in embarrassment at the performance of the Pakistani team. Remember, what had happened was not the norm as it is now!
Anyhow, that was then. This is now. Then, to have come home without any medal was a huge surprise. Today, to come home with any medal would be the surprise. Hockey, like all sports, goes up and down. As it should. But good humur is timeless. Even when it is based on current events as this one is. Enjoy!