"We were never afraid of trying anything new"
Pakistani stage artists have been popular amongst fans. Some are older than others and have sadly passed away.
In Pakistan, stage dramas are a big source of entertainment, after dramas and films. They are believed to be popular for various reasons.
Many stage artists like to entertain the audience, along with lightly informing them on social issues and existing problems across Pakistani society. This is achieved through skits, plays and riveting performances.
Impersonating and using improvised dialogue are huge elements of acting when it comes to stage plays.
Pakistani stage dramas have produced many famous male artists such as Moin Akhtar and Umer Sharif.
However, attractive actresses also play a part on the stage. Actresses such as Khushboo and Hina Shaheen are versatile with very confident personalities.
DESIblitz presents 25 top Pakistani artists that have successfully graced the stage.
Born in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, India on May 22, 1917, Uzra Butt (late) was the sister of Indian film actress, Zohra Sehgal.
Uzra began her performing career in India but then headed for Pakistan post-partition to pursue her dream of performing on stage.
In 1985, she joined the Ajoka Theatre where she participated in a group performance called Chaak Chakkar. Uzra then went on to act in several plays including Dukhni, Barri, Dukh Darya, Khali Ghata and many more.
Following a forty-year break from the acting scene, Uzra made a return. She performed Aik Thi Nani with her sister in 1993, where they both played lead roles.
After a 2003 opening in Lahore, the play toured India and even Britain. This also included a special show at Prithvi Theatre in 2004.
In 1994, Uzra received the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in acting. This award is highly recognised amongst new and practising artists.
Her final performance on stage was in 2008, two years before she passed away. She left this world on May 31, 2010, in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan.
Ismail Tara is one of the best Pakistani stage artists. He was born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan on November 16, 1949.
In the 1980s, Ismail began to work in the film and television industry. However, he also took on the decision to work in stage plays.
He acted in a famous play, Mr Charlie in Karachi along with Umer Sharif, Rangeela and many more eminent stage artists.
Mazaq is another popular stage play that Ismail has starred in. He performed the play with world-known Murtaza Hassan.
He also collaborated with stage artist Moin Akhtar, featuring in the play Wah Wah. Additionally, he had a part in the successful Punjabi stage show, Soney Ki Chirya.
Besides acting in stage plays, Ismail is the writer of many scripts.
Nasir Chinyoti is a very humourous stage actor of Pakistan. He was born in Chiniot, Punjab, Pakistan on April 20, 1950.
A stage in Multan is where his acting first all began. Nasir has performed in many stage dramas, acting in many different languages such as Punjabi and Urdu.
Nasir mainly performs his art of comedy in the historic city of Lahore. He is popular for his improvisation of dialogues in plays that he acts in.
He has worked with many Pakistani stage performers including Babbu Baral, Tariq Teddy and Iftikhar Thakur.
His hit stage dramas including Sholay, Moortan and Athri.
As well as performing on stage, Nasir has also starred in TV shows and films such as Chal Mera Putt (2019), which was set in Birmingham.
Born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan on May 4, 1950, Abid Kashmiri is a Pakistani comedian and adaptable stage actor. Abid is also known for his comedy acting in Urdu films and dramas.
Abid is popular internationally due to his untouchable talent and entertaining humour. He has also won awards for his effortless ability to make the audience laugh.
He has performed many stage dramas with various influential artists such as Nasir Chinyoti, Iftikhar Thakur and Mastana.
Besides male stage artists, Abid has also worked with Abida Baig, Rubi Anum and many more successful female stage performers.
Famous stage dramas of Abid include Paisa Naach Nachaway, Raba Ishq Na Hoye 2 and Pappo Sadqay Pappo Wari.
Moin Akhtar (late) was popular for his impersonations and entertaining humour. He was born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan on December 24, 1950.
Moin did not always aspire to be a successful actor until his life came crashing down at a young age. Speaking to Dawn, his son quoted his fathers words, stating:
“I was young and stranded and had left my job as a mechanic. I did not know what to do, but a quiet voice was always whispering to me, ‘Whatever you do, make sure it is grand.’
At the age of thirteen, Moin began his career on stage, performing the role of Shylock in the Shakespeare theatre play, The Merchant of Venice.
In 1966, he went on to become a stand-up comedian, mimicking the likes of Hollywood actor Anthony Quinn.
During an illustrious forty-five year career, Moin performed in many stage dramas with other popular artists and writers such as Bushra Ansari and Anwar Maqsood.
Moin was joined by Bushra in the short, old comedy play, ChunChuno. Other successful stage dramas of his included Wah Wah and Budha Ghar Pe Hain, with the latter featuring Umer Sharif.
Moin received a Pride of Performance award in 1996 by the government of Pakistan.
The Sitara-i-Imtiaz was also awarded to Moin. He passed away on April 20, 2011, in Karachi at the age of sixty after suffering a heart attack. Moin was an impressive stage performer and is dearly missed by his wide fan base.
Pride of Performance award winner, Amanullah Khan was born in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan during 1950. This Pakistani stage artist is extremely hilarious. He has starred in a record 860-day night plays.
The extensive stageography of Amanullah includes Begum Dish Antenna, Shartiya Mithay and Bara Maza Aayeag.
While performing, Amanullah occasionally improvises when it comes to his dialogue and acting. The majority of the time, his stage dramas revolve around the lives and habits of common regular people.
Writing for his blog, Sushant Taing believes Amanuallah falls short of the great Umer Sharif but is still a great stage artist. He says:
“Amanullah Khan. Although not as popular as Pakistan’s other comical genius Omar Sharrif, Amanullah Khan cracks me up with his major awesome stand up comedy, and this is because he is a cracker.”
Many famous Indian comedians such as Kapil Sharma and Chandan Prabhakar suggest that Amanullah is their teacher and inspiration.
Liaquat Ali (late) who was born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, during 1952 was more commonly known as Liaquat Soldier. He began his acting career in 1973 from Adamjee Hall in the ‘City of Lights.’
He starred in over 250 plays, with some involving Moin Akhtar and Umer Sharif.
Besides being an actor, Liaquat was also a writer and director for many Pakistani stage performances.
His last name Soldier was given to him while performing on stage by his friend Nazar Hussain who was also an actor. His real name, however, was, Liaquat Ali.
He acted in many popular dramas that include No Problem with Sikandar Sanam and Ustad Eid Mubarak that had Rauf Lala.
Liaquat died from a cardiac arrest in his birth city on March 30, 2011, during the Cricket World Cup.
Entertaining stage artist, Muhammad Abid Khan (late) better known as Abid Khan was born in Gujranwala, Punjab, Pakistan on November 6, 1953. He was a Pakistani comedian, TV and stage actor.
Despite working across different mediums, he was more recognisable through his comedy plays that were primarily staged in Lahore.
Earlier on in his life, he performed in various stage plays such as Lari Adda and Suelal. Like many other stage artists, Abid became popular for improvising his dialogues when acting.
The early 1990s was when Abid became famous. He was best known for his theatre play Shartiya Mithay.
In the drama, he played the father’s role of two blind children. The children were played by accomplished stage artists, Babu Baral and Amanullah Khan.
Other than bringing comedy and great humour to the stage, Abid was also a social critic and satirist. He knew how to address social matters through his stage dramas.
On August 19, 2000, his life on the stage had come to an end when he sadly passed away from a heart attack in the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad.
Murtaza Hassan (Mastana)
Born in Gujranwala, Punjab, Pakistan during 1955, Murtaza Hassan (late), more familiar as ‘Mastana’ was a naturally gifted Pakistani stage artist.
Mastana was a top entertainer across the Lahore theatre circuit. He performed roles in over 2000 stage dramas in Lahore and various other cities.
Mastana enthralled audiences in many successful stage dramas such as Lari Adda and Yaro Main Luteya Geya.
He performed with numerous popular Pakistani stage artists. These included Babu Barral, Naseem Vicky, Iftikhar Thakur, Tariq Teddy, Abid Khan and others.
Mastana had been in the industry for thirty-five years. He was acknowledged through his comedy and was known as the king of stage and theatre.
Suffering from Hepatitis C, Mastana died at Victoria Hospital in Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan on April 11, 2011.
Actress, comedian, singer and playwright Bushra Ansari was born in Karachi, Pakistan on May 15, 1956.
Bushra who began her career in the 1960s as a child artist went on to win the 1989 Pride of Performance award.
She won the award for her continuous ability to entertain and perform in a professional and fun way.
In an interview with Ally Adnan from News Line magazine, Bushra talks about how her upbringing influenced her career. She mentions:
“I think it was the love that my father and my mother had for us, more than anything else.”
“That made us secure, confident and adventurous. We were never afraid of trying anything new, be it singing, writing or acting.”
On stage, Bushra was always known for her mimicking and performing skits. Bushra has performed skits on influential figures in Pakistan such as Imran Khan.
Many of her plays and skits were performed in collaboration with Moin Akhtar and Anwar Maqsood.
Besides the world of stage, Bushra is an experienced television presenter and TV actress. While presenting, she sometimes performs comedic skits on-screen.
Iftikhar Thakur was born on April 1, 1958, in Mian Channu, Khanewal, Punjab, Pakistan. At birth, his surname was ‘Ahmed’ but he changed it to ‘Thakur,’ which was based on a character he played in a drama.
Iftikhar is a stand-up comedian who performs in many stage dramas. On stage, he performs in various languages such as Punjabi, Potwari and Urdu.
Famous stage plays starring Iftikhar include, Paise De Dayo, Phanse Ga Khushboo Ke Saath, Mehngi Huie Angraie, Mohabbat and Chalak Totay.
As Iftikhar is a comedian, he acts best with a similar type of artists such as Nasir Chinyoti and Tariq Teddy.
Iftikhar has taken to the stage during the night, performing at the Al Falah theatre in Lahore.
Iftikhar has toured many western countries and performed some really funny stage plays in Punjabi and Urdu.
‘King of Stage,’ Umer Sharif was born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan on April 19, 1960. His journey to becoming a stage and theatre icon began at the age of fourteen.
Umer is an actor, producer, writer and Pakistani stand-up comedian. He is the most victorious stage artist and comedian from Pakistan.
In 1989, Umer became execeptionally popular for his stage plays, Bakra Qiston Pay and Buddha Ghar Pe Hai.
To mark the 50th independence anniversary of Pakistan, he acted in the play Umer Sharif Hazir Ho.
Recognising his achievements and excellence, Umer has won the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz award. Umer who has travelled all over the world to perform his talent is very well respected in India.
Waseem Abbas is a stage and television actor, as well as a director. He was born in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan on September 9, 1960.
Abbas originates from a family of actors. His father, Inayat Hussain Bhatti (late) was a world-famous singer and actor. His uncle Kifiyat Hussain Bhatti, fondly called Kaifee was also a popular film actor and director.
Waseem has played roles in many stage dramas. G Sir, Begum Meri BBC and Mano Meri Baat are a few to name.
Most stage dramas featuring Wasim were filmed with Umer Sharif. Nasir Chinyoti and Amanullah Khan have also starred in plays with Waseem Abbas.
As an influential stage artist, Waseem won the Pride of Performance award in 2016.
Pakistani stage artist Mohmmad Sikandar also known as Sikandar Sanam (late) was born in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan on September 21, 1960.
He changed his surname to Sanam, which means beloved. Coming from a Kutchi background, Sikandar was recognised through his on-stage talent of mimicking.
From a young age, Sikandar would perform on stage as a singer and a child actor. A few years later he made the decision to pursue acting over singing as he entered the showbiz arena.
Sikandar had starred in many stage dramas including Beauty Parlour, Direct Hawaldar and Kaloo Saloo Aur Maloo.
He has appeared in over thirty successful stage plays over the years.
Losing his battle with cancer, Sikander was declared dead at Civil Hospital, Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan on November 5, 2012.
Sohail Ahmed was born in Gujranwala, Punjab, Pakistan on May 1, 1963. He is a Pakistani stage actor known for his comedy satire.
Sohail is such a natural that he does not plan his dialogues. Improvising, he often does entertaining commentary on social matters.
Sohail has acted in a few well-known stage dramas such as Shartiya Mithay, Kaali Chaadar, Feeqa in America, Roti Khol Do and Mental Hospital.
Sohail is very vocal against vulgarity and indecency in stage plays.
He has received many important awards for his acting and amazing skills. In 2011, he received the Pride of Performance award from the President of Pakistan.
In 2013, he received another award from the President of Pakistan, the Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence).
Popular theatre comedian Tariq Teddy was born in Faisalabad, Punjab Pakistan. He resides in Lahore due to his acting career.
When performing on stage, Tariq is known for his sharp and quick replies.
Teddy had a rivalry with Mastana, with both often throwing digs at one another on stage. However, off stage, they were the best both of friends.
Tariq has performed in various stage shows. These include Mirch Masala Mama Pakistani, Ji Karda, Jhoot Bolda, Chalak Totay 1,2 and 3.
Born Ayub Akhtar, Babu Baral (late) was born in Ghakar Mandi, Punjab, Pakistan during 1964. Before becoming a stage performer, he was a comedian in Gujranwala.
Like other stage artists, Babu was also skilled in mimicking. He would effortlessly sing in the voice of many legendary singers.
One of his most popular stage drama was Shartiya Mithay. He performed this play with many other famous stage artists such as Abid Khan.
Following a prolonged illness, Babu died in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan on April 16, 2011.
Woman of many talents, Khushboo was born in Lahore, Punjab Pakistan on June 24, 1969. Khushboo whose real name is Sobia Hussain is a stage artist, as well as a film actress and dancer.
In reply to a question about how the name Khushboo came, she told ATV:
“When I went into the film industry at a young age with my real name, Sobia, they told me that film stars should have glamorous names.
“We put together about five or six names but in the end, we chose Khushboo.”
After realising she did not receive an applicable amount of film fame, Khushoo turned to stage and theatre performing in 2000.
Khushboo has many stage performances to her name. These include Juppi Kutkay, Kurian Tik Tok, Athri andWicket Uray Gi.
She has worked alongside many Pakistani stage artists such as Iftikhar Thakur, Zafri Khan, Nasir Chinyoti and Tariq Teddy.
Alamzeb Mujahid Khan
Pashto speaking stage artist, Alamzeb Mujahid Khan was born on October 23, 1969, in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan.
Alamzeb who is known for impeccable Pashto comedy became popular due to his association with Pakistan Television (PTV)
Starring in many stage plays, Alamzeb has a huge fan base in Pakistan.
In one stage drama called Abaseen, he played various roles depicting local people in society. This play represented Pakistani society.
Alamzeb had to leave for Singapore after he was threatened and told to leave the show business field.
Former model and film actress, Madiha Shah was born in Gujrat, Punjab, Pakistan on February 8, 1970.
After one of her friends introduced her to television, she made the decision of acting in plays. Hari Bhari Chhaon was her first play in Punjabi, which was broadcasted on Lahore television.
Parents of Madiha were not happy about her acting career. However, with time, her mother did approve of her choice.
By the 90s, Madiha started acting in various stage dramas such as Janam Janam Ki Meli Chadar.
Along with acting, she also performed on stage as a dancer.
Madiha performed with Babu Barral and other Pakistani stage artists in the 2015 play, Dil Diyan Lagiyan.
Popular Pakistani comedian, Rauf Lala was born in Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan on January 1, 1970. He is an actor, producer and writer.
Rauf is best known for his stage work and comedic scenes in his plays. He has been working for over three decades in the acting scene.
His career began as a comedian in Karachi from the One Day Theatre. Ever since then Rauf has become one of the most talented and known Pakistani stage artists.
According to Rauf acting in plays can be difficult at times. In an interview with the Saudi Gazette, Rauf explains:
“Acting in a comic role is difficult as it seems, especially when you are facing some unfortunate situation. I remember in one of my play I had to perform soon after the death of my mother as I had earlier committed to it.
“I was crying backstage while making people laugh when I was on stage. That is my memorable experience as it shows me as an actor.”
Rauf has worked with Moin Akhtar and Umer Sharif in many stage shows. Some of the plays they have starred together in are Bhudda Ghar Pe Hai and Bakra Qiston Pay in 1989.
The stage play Bakra Qiston Pay continues to remain in the spotlight for its increased popularity.
Rauf has also starred in Naam Ke Nawaab, Gol Mal and many more successful stage dramas.
In 2006, Lala was awarded the ‘Comedy Ka Shahenshah’ title at The Great Indian Laughter Challenge (2005), which is a reality show based in India.
Pakistani stage artist, Mahnoor is also a very talented dancer. She has performed in several movies and serials.
Mahnoor began her career in acting with Mausam, a drama aired on PTV. Soon after, she decided to change her path and instead try her luck in theatre.
For nearly a year, the ever so talented Mahnoor acted in Lahore’s Al Falah theatre. She also performed at other Lahore theatres such as Tamaseel, Mehfil and Shalimar.
She has played a role in the popular stage drama Phul Jhariyan with Waseem Punu and Lucky Dear.
Mahnoor has also starred in Pyar One Way, Chor Pyaar De and Lovely Kurian.
Born to a middle-class family in Heera Mandi, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan on February 13, 1971, Hina Shaheen is a Pakistani stage actress and dancer.
Before becoming a successful stage artist, Hina began her career as a television actress. However, acting on television did not bring her much fame.
Hina then turned to act in films, but that did not bear fruit either. After much experimenting, Shaheen went on to star in stage dramas.
Stage plays luckily brought Hina a bundle of success. She became famous due to her dance performances on stage.
Hina has appeared in various stage dramas including Khattay Meethay, De Dhana Dan, Sonay Ke Haarth, Zara Jhoom Jhoom and Shadi Se Pehle.
Hina has performed with the very best Pakistani stage artists. They include Khushboo, Iftikhar Thakur, Naseem Vicky and Amanullah Khan.
Born on July 18, 1976, in Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan, Malik Naseem Waqas, better known as Naseem Vicky, is a famous actor and stand-up comedian.
Naseem moved to Lahore so that he could follow and pursue his acting dreams.
Naseem has appeared in many plays doing stand-up comedy. Being a comedian is vital when performing in stage dramas, with it being a prime form of entertainment.
Speaking about his prominence, a writer from Entertainment Pakistan states:
“Naseem Vicky is one of the most popular Pakistani comedians out there. [The] actor has not only worked on television, films and stage in Pakistan he has also worked at international level as well.”
Naseem has starred in numerous stage dramas including Jawan Budhey, Manchaley Aashiq, Double Dhaamal, Zindagi Bani Tamasha and Chan Chanyot Da.
Some of his co-stars on Punjabi and Urdu stage shows include Nasir Chinyoti, Hina Shaheen, Tahir Anjum and Nargis.
Pakistani stage and film actress, Anjuman Shehzadi (late) was born in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, during 1977.
Having begun her career in 20oo, Anjuman had performed in over a hundred stage dramas. During her time performing on stage, she would also perform dances too.
The bold dance moves of Anjuman were the reason for her ever-lasting fame. However, she was sometimes criticised for her dances on stage.
When her career was booming, she performed in many popular plays with some famous stage artists. She starred in Haseena Dil Ruba with fellow actor, Zafri Khan.
Anjuman also performed in the stage plays, Maachis and Shahzadi with Khushboo, Tariq Teddy and Iftikhar Thakur.
Under mysterious cirucmsances, Anjuman unfortunately died in Lahore on May 15, 2011.
Pakistani stage artists are treasurable talents of the country. Whether they are alive or living, they are forever loved by the fans in Pakistan.
Interestingly, Pakistani stage plays are also enjoyed internationally by a particular group of fans. Pakistani stage artists will continue to make people laugh and entertain for years to come.