Iftikhar Qaisar: Grief and Television

When Jamal Shah was saying last week, at a talk show, that Iftikhar Qaisar needs help, it didn’t enter my mind that he was in critical stages of diabetes, and was suffering from brain tumour. I wasn’t updated about his condition. His health kept deteriorating and the provincial government didn’t pay any attention to his complaints – and then, it was too late. After the initial shock and horror of his death, the first thing that makes you grieve uncontrollably is Iftikhar Qaisar, the immensely talented artiste. For those who had followed him from day one, he was absolutely a pearl. He entered the fray when he was just a Grade 6 student. In 1971, there was a show from Chaklala, titled Nandana. IQ told us that a producer came to his school looking for a young talent, and he was selected for the programme. “I used to act everywhere, in the classroom, in the house. And I loved movies. I went to see Mohammad Ali’s films,” he told us in an interview. “Naturally, I had no interest in education. Therefore, I cheated in the exams; so, they stopped me from giving exams for three years. And then, I joined showbiz, full time!” Qaiser worked in the first Peshawar TV serial on Sindh’s culture, produced by Hameed Bhutto. He had some powerful Sindhi dialogues which he delivered perfectly, that was his commitment. But, it was his famous punchline, Ab main boloon ke na boloon, that made the audiences go mad for him. He was actually great in comedy. Who can forget his excellent performance as Harfiyan in Dekhda Janda Re? He was a Sab-janta-wallah; he did TV, theatre, singing etc, poetry was his forte. His last serial was in 2016, called Jaan Nisar, in which he played a corrupt police officer. I clicked my tongue when Jamal Shah said IQ was as great an actor as Marlon Brando. But, then I thought actors like Brando and Burton were not versatile at all. So, why should one take issue with that remark?