By  Fazela Gulrez

“In my time people were dedicated; they were ready to teach and they were ready to learn. Now everybody—writers, producers, directors, actors—is working in a hurry. Perhaps this is also the reason that the artistes are exhausted even before they have peaked,” says Tauqir Nasir.


“As a member of the performing arts society, I believe one of the means to erase the stigmas of being a dangerous and failed state is to revive and promote art and culture and to once again advocate the soft and civilised image of Pakistan,” avers Tauqir Nasir, a actor and now Director General of Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA).
“It is a great tragedy that we have failed to produce the likes of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Habib Jalib, Sadequan and so many more renowned artistes—and this is the price we have paid for the clampdown on performing arts and culture during and in the aftermath of General Zia-ul-Haq’s oppressive era,” adds Nasir.
The youngest recipient of the two coveted national awards, Pride of Performance and Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, Nasir started his journey as an actor from the young age of 17. It was the soft and romantic acting of our chocolate hero, Waheed Murad, that inspired Nasir to take up acting—but only as a hobby, no matter how successful he would become. However, Nasir did not join the film industry as his family did not think it was considered ‘nice’ to be part of the film world. So he opted for Pakistan television instead.

“I joined Lahore TV and first appeared in a serial Parwaz, as a hero. It was my very first appearance and that, too, in a title role. I was apprehensive about whether or not I will be able to do justice to my job, and realise the confidence reposed in me by my director,” he states.

Nasir places great emphasis on the environment existing then. According to him, “We had good teachers and willing learners. It was on the basis of the acquired job training and the director’s untiring efforts that we were made to live the role. We were taught every little detail about acting: how to deliver dialogues, where to stress, where to pause, and then made to implement those techniques to achieve a good performance,” Nasir says with pride. In the meantime, Nasir continued with his studies and did his masters in journalism.

Parwaz gave to Nasir the confirmation of his talent, following which he appeared in various individual plays. That is when the main role in the serial, Panah, knocked at Nasir’s doorsteps—the first coloured play to be aired by PTV. And thus his journey commenced in earnest, and what had started as a ‘hobby only’ became a passion, though never his source of livelihood.

Nasir has been following his acting passion for the last three decades, though now it is not as prolific as before. “The national and international recognition I got was from the first long play (90 minutes) on the PTV in 1981,” Nasir says. This was an experimental play aired by PTV to replace the airing of Pakistani films because viewers were not comfortable watching them with family.

Nasir started his career as a creative writer and client executive in Midas, while contributing regular columns in newspapers. After a five-year stint he started his own agency, but remarks that due to “his uncompromising and upright nature, it failed to take off.” Then he joined the ministry of commerce, where he worked for nine years.

“When I entered my third decade, private productions had started and I did my first play, Nasal, from Karachi. But with the advent of TV channels, things changed drastically. There is mass production of plays which are conceived and produced in the shortest possible time, and therefore quality suffers. I feel that drama is not treated the same way as we did. Now it is at the mercy of commercialism,” reminisces Nasir.

During Nasir’s heydays, an artiste was not permitted to act in more than two plays per year. Today, one sees the same artiste doing at least three to four plays at the same time. It is obvious that the quality of their performance will suffer. “In my time people were dedicated, they were ready to teach and they were ready to learn. Now everybody—writers, producers, directors, actors—is working in a hurry. There is too much competition and the writers are asked to churn out scripts within 15 days, so how can we expect good work even if they are capable of doing it? Perhaps this is also the reason that the artistes are exhausted even before they have peaked,” adds Nasir.

Commenting on the new generation of TV artistes, Nasir opines that they are working for overnight stardom, glitz and glamour. How they appear is important to them, therefore the female artiste will be in full make-up whether it is the need of the role or not.

At the same time, it is also true that the new generation has the advantage of technology. Mehdi Hassan’s singing depended solely on his voice quality and singing expertise. The new technology helps to polish and fine-tune creative art, which was missing earlier. Everything depended on the talent of the individual, and he does not see that calibre of talent today, despite technology and its advances.

Turning to the country’s existing situation, Nasir agreed that art can play an effective role for peace in the country. “I feel that it is vital to strengthen all the various genres of performing arts and this is what I am doing from the PNCA platform. My focus is to underscore the softer image of Pakistan and also reduce the suffocation within us through promotion of arts and crafts and show the world that we are an art-loving, peaceful nation.”

Working at this organisation is both exciting and challenging for Nasir. But the important thing is that he is here owing to his own choice, and is close to performing arts. At the same time, he feels that he cannot always do things the way he would like to. “There are too many limitations, procedural hurdles, red-tapism, and yet work within the discipline, while creative work requires/demands a certain mind-frame,” he laments. But despite all the problems, he has been successful so far in executing his responsibilities in the way he has conceived and will continue to do so in future.

According to Nasir, to revive our art and culture we need to first own it. Instead of going for everything foreign, we need to promote the brand, ‘made in Pakistan’, as a nation. “What I am doing at the PNCA is a drop in the ocean.” Nasir holds various activities such as Qawwali, Sufi/pop music show, plays, tributes etc. important in helping people, and especially the youth, bond with their art and culture.

Nasir feels it is important to engage children in art and culture and provide them with a platform to showcase their talent and help them deal with the frustration through healthy and creative activity. The PNCA conducts workshops in visual arts as well as for painting, potteries, theatre, music etc., to help them broaden their vision. PNCA has developed a Talent Bank for children under 18,  who have been selected from various schools. There is separate arrangement for special children and children from slums are also part of the bank. “I am trying my best to do something for the kids,” Nasir says.


Recently Fariha Pervez has sung the very famous ghazal of the poet AkhterFariha Pervez

Shirani for a drama title of Ary Digital. It was originally sung by the great legend Nayyara Noor.  Its true that no one can match up to Nayyara Noor but Fariha Pervez’s version has become quite popular these days hitting over more than 18,000 views in just a month.Do note that these are the stats from her official youtube channel. Everyone has appreciated Fariha Pervez on this Marvelous Effort.

Singer: Fariha Pervez

Poet: Akhter Shirani

Music: Wajid Saeed

Title track of the drama Aye Ishq Humain Barbaad Na Kar – Ary Digital