Munnu Bhai – A Legend in His Lifetime!

You could probably say that the 70s and 80s were the best time for drama, with a top short story writer from the conservative side, Ashfaq Ahmed, reigning on the cute cube with a caliber pen-weilder from the progressive front, Munnu Bhai!

When Munnu Bhai passed away last week, he left behind brilliant drama serials that spoke of the common people in a big way! His real name was Munir Ahmed Qureishi. His Sona Chandi was the longest-running TV serial in an age, when the sub-continent had not even heard of the soaps. The Coronation Street, no doubt, had its first episode in 1960, and Santa Barbara started in 1984, but PTV was blissfully unaware of such ephemeral stuff, and they were producing quality and literary plays. Even in India, Tara began in 1993. Most of Door Darshan was airing literary stuff, with a top writer, Kamleshwar as its GM. But, with Munnu Bhai, producing such episodes as Sona Chandi and Ababeel from Lahore TV, the people from cities and villages had become irresistibly attracted to drama serials.

The inimitable Munnu Bhai used to write a popular newspaper column for Daily Jang, for many years, titled Gareban.

Famous dramas from Munnu Bhai include Darwaza that starred Roohi Bano. Others are Meri Sadgi Dekh, in 1986, marked by some good work from Khalida Riyasat and a sterling individual play, Gumshuda, with Ali Ejaz in one of his best rural portraits. In the global age, Dasht was a prominent serial, with Abid Ali, Nauman Ijaz, and Atiqa Odho. Another one of importance was Ashiana, in 1997, with Kashif Khan making his debutant. You may be wondering why I didn’t mention the greatest serial on the issue of landlords, Jhok Siyal. I must tell you that it was written by a chap named Shabbir Shah, while its screenplay was written by Munnu Bhai.