Zia Mohyeddin, the first Pakistani ever to work in Hollywood, passed away on Monday after a brief illness. He was 91. The veteran actor, director and TV host was admitted to a hospital in Karachi, where he was based, after complaining of abdominal pain and fever. He was later shifted on life support after some surgical procedure. He breathed his last at 6.30am, according to his family. The funeral prayer would be offered in the Defence area of Karachi.
Mohyeddin was born in 1931 in Faisalabad in Pakistan’s Punjab province, and made his name in acting, broadcasting and poetry recitation. He was also president emeritus of National Institute of Performing Arts in Karachi and trained a host of budding artists. He also wrote columns for various newspapers.
Moheyddin appeared on both Pakistani cinema and television apart from appearances on the British cinema and television throughout his career. His memorable performances include ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ (1962) by director David Lean, followed by ‘Behold the Pale Horsein’ (1964) by director Fred Zinnemann and ‘Immaculate Conception’ (1992) by director Jamil Dehlavi.
The veteran actor was awarded Hilal-e-Imtiaz, the second-highest civilian honour in Pakistan, in 2012 for his contribution to the field of art. He also authored three books ‘A Carrot is a Carrot’, ‘Theatrics’ and ‘The God of My Idolatry Memories and Reflections’.
Prime minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his sorrow and grief at the demise of the legendary performer. In a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the premier said that Mohyeddin’s art was “one of its kind” and his unique style was admired not just in Pakistan but across the world, the Dawn newspaper reported. “It is sad that a person with many beautiful qualities has left society. Zia Mohyeddin’s voice will keep resonating in our hearts and minds,” he said.
Expressing grief over the veteran actor’s demise, President Arif Alvi, in a tweet, said, “To me it is a personal loss. He was a giant in the arts, an actor, producer, director and above all an excellent reciter of prose and poetry accompanied by music typically prompting with a pause.” “One day a worried Zia came to me in the 90’s and told me that he is under stress when asked why? He said I know Shakespeare from cover to cover but now I tend to forget. A giant indeed. May Allah give strength to the world of arts, Azra, his wife, family and children to bear this loss,” Alvi said in the following tweet.
Former prime minister Imran Khan also extended condolences to the grieving family. “Saddened to learn of the passing of Zia Mohyeddin. I knew him for decades. He was a highly cultured person, extremely well read esp in Urdu literature and an institution in the world of entertainment. He will be missed. My condolences and prayers go to his family,” Khan said in a tweet.
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