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Profile: Zia Mohyeddin

03:16 PM | 17 Feb, 2023
Profile: Zia Mohyeddin
Source: Zia Mohyeddin

Zia Mohyeddin was one of the most gifted and diverse performers, broadcasters, actors and directors.

His repute as a Pakistani actor, literary icon and televangelist was matchless. He was a living legend in South Asia and had a unique aesthetic sense, culture, wit, wisdom, language and insight.

He was born on June 20, 1931 in Lyallpur, now known as Faisalabad in Pakistan. He belonged to a Punjabi family originally from Rohtak, East Punjab, which is now known as Haryana. His father, Khadim Mohyeddin, was a mathematician, musicologist, playwright and lyricist associated with various theatre groups. His father had a unique distinction; he was dialogue writer of Pakistan's first film “Teri Yaad”. Thus, it is evident that he is like father for being immensely talented and diversified individual since his childhood.

Evolving in the whimsical and uncertain circle of life, ZiaMohyeddin spent his early life in Kasur and Lahore. He began his career in the 1950s and went on to become a successful actor, producer, director, and television broadcaster. As a blessed child, he was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London from 1953 to 1956. His literary career passed through various splendid stages and phases.Most significantly, 

after stage roles in Long Day's Journey into Night and Julius Caesar, he got an opportunity to act in the famous film Lawrence of Arabia. It was only he who could performed an exceptional and memorable role in the film Lawrence of Arabia(1962).In this film, he played the role of Tafas. This was the time when started sailing in no time. He then made numerous TV and film appearances. According to an estimated calculations, he worked for nearly 47 years in the United Kingdom as an actor.

Dilating some light at matrimony, he married Sarwar Zemani with whom he had two sons, Minos Ameer and RishaAmeen.This was the time when Mohyeddin returned to Pakistan in the late 1960s. During 1969 and 1973, he hosted the popular television talk show, The Zia Mohyeddin Show, best remembered for Mohyeddin's rap-style song segment, which he would introduce with his trademark phrase of "zarathekalagaiye". He was also known for originating the role of Dr. Aziz in the stage play of A Passage to India.Making a rapid and unprecedented progress, he was appointed director of the PIA Arts Academy in 1973, a role he held until 1977. At this critical juncture of professional excellence, he interacted and subsequently married the renowned Kathak dancer Nahid Siddiqui. The couple had a son, the percussionist and music producer, Hassan "Moyo" Mohyeddin.

Being a democratic individual, Zia Mayuddin had to return to the UK during General (retired) Zia UlHaq’s military regime. During the 1980s, Zia worked in Birminghamwhere he produced Central Television's flagship multicultural programme “Here and Now (1986 – 1989)”, a weekly magazine program. He was a true Pakistani who used to miss his country, countrymen and its unique landscape even in luxurious and comforts-zone of UK.

After elapsing some time here, Zia Mohyeddin decided to change his working style and decided to recite Urdu poetry and prose recitations.No doubt, he was consideredthe foremost reader of Urdu literature with its due requisites. Adding, he is also known for his readings of English letters and literature. 

Irrefutably, Zia  Mohyeddin’s life swirls from queer and unexpected experiences till last moments of life.In the mid-1990s, he married Azra, his third wife and they got a daughter, AaliyaMohyeddin who was born in 2002.During General(Retired)  PervezMusarraf era, he was requested to form the National Academy of Performing Arts in Karachi, of which he was president since its inception.In 2005, he set up the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) in Karachi. 

Apart from this distinctive initiative, Zia Mohyeddinalso wrote books titled as an ace writer ‘A Carrot is a Carrot’, ‘Theatrics and The God of My Idolatry Memories’ and ‘Reflections’. Some of his remarkable movies have been enlisted below in which he performed impressively as an actor.

·         Rahguzar (1960)

·         Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – Tafas

·         Sammy Going South (1963) – The Syrian

·         Behold a Pale Horse (1964) – Luis, Guide of Paco

·         Khartoum (1966) – Zobeir Pasha

·         Deadlier Than the Male (1966) – King Fedra

·         The Sailor from Gibraltar (1967) – Noori

·         They Came from Beyond Space (1967) – Farge

·         Work Is a Four-Letter Word (1968) – Dr. AlyNarayana

·         Bombay Talkie (1970) – Hari

·         MujrimKaun (1971)

·         Ashanti (1979) – Djamil

·         The Assam Garden (1985) – Mr. Lal

·         Partition (1987)

·         Immaculate Conception (1992) – Shehzada

·         Some Lover to Some Beloved (documentary) (2017) - (Zia The Adventures of Sir Francis Drake (7 January 1962 episode "Visit to Spain"). – King Philip of Spain

·         Danger Man (1964-1966) – Dr. Sawari / Sinclair Jones / Mr. Sen / Khan

·         The Avengers (1966) – Prince Ali

·         Adam Adamant Lives! (1967) – Sheikh Abdul

·         Jackanory (1967) – Storyteller

·         Man in a Suitcase (1968) – Rafael

·         The Champions (1969) – Prengo

·         Hadleigh (1969) – Major SavvasStylianos

·         Detective (12 October 1969 episode Inspector Ghote Hunts the Peacock) – Inspector Ghote

·         Gangsters (1978) – Iqbal Khan

·         Z-Cars (1978) – Anwar Chowdry

·         Minder (1980) – Tajvir

·         Death of a Princess (1980) – Marwan Shaheen

·         The Jewel in the Crown (1984) – Mohammad Ali 'Mak' Kasim

·         Bergerac (1984) – Adnan Rashid

·         Family Pride (1991–92) – BB

·         DhunHamariTumharayNaamHui (1999)

Realistically, Zia Mohyeddin has won laurels to receive notable andthe most prestigiousHilal-i-Imtiaz Award in 2012 by the President of Pakistan,Sitara-i-Imtiaz Award in 2003 and Lifetime Achievement Award on 29 November 2017 presented by the Pakistani community living in Dubai & given by the Pakistan Ambassador in United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Throughout his artistic career, he created an unparalleled charm,captivating vibe and charisma as the president of NAPA institute and the person primarily responsible for teaching voice and diction. Around the globe, he was revered and applauded  as Pakistan’s greatest thespian, broadcaster, and actor, a master orator who could summon Shakespeare’s tricksters and Ghalib’s angels all in one breath, one sentence, that too with the comfort of a marathon runner, breathing new life into dead poets and the literary men works  who once formed a living society.

Zia Mohyeddinwas graduate of Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (Rada) who performed hundreds of shows at West End, produced a number of successful TV programmes and productions, before returning to Pakistan to serve its culture, language, and art. He tried to cultivate a heritage full of cultural richness, top-notch programming, immaculate expression, deep thinking and a bittersweet relationship with the next generation of performers.He registered his disgust at gradual decline of society’s aesthetic sense and artistic standards several time to Pakistan’s mainstream media.

Being a theatrical performer, he never left the traditional stage and every year one would see him direct one of the great works for Napa, the last two being Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and King Lear in Urdu. Splendidly, he also directed ‘Waiting for Godot’ in English in 2013 and was incredibly clear that the reason he chose his daughter Aliya to play the ghost was strictly out of professional necessity.

On 13th February 2023, Zia Mohyeddin headed towards to an eternal life at the age of 92 years. The admirers from all around the world and his countrymen will remember him as a pearl of Art and literature for his impeccable contributions.

The writer is a staff member.


Pakistani rupee rate against US Dollar, Euro, Pound, Riyal - Check 20 April forex rates

Pakistani currency remains marginally same against US Dollar and other currencies on April 20, 2024. US dollar was being quoted at 277.5 for buying and 280.5 for selling.

Euro comes down to 293 for buying and 296 for selling while British Pound stands at 342.25 for buying, and 345.65 for selling.

UAE Dirham AED was at 75.25 and Saudi Riyal's new rates was at 73.30. 

Today’s currency exchange rates in Pakistan - 20 April 2024

Source: Forex Association of Pakistan. (last update 09:00 AM)
Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar USD 277.5 280.5
Euro EUR 293 296
UK Pound Sterling GBP 342.5 346
U.A.E Dirham AED 75.2 75.9
Saudi Riyal SAR 73.3 74.05
Australian Dollar AUD 181 182.8
Bahrain Dinar BHD 740.55 748.55
Canadian Dollar CAD 201 203
China Yuan CNY 38.47 38.87
Danish Krone DKK 39.78 40.18
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 35.53 35.88
Indian Rupee INR 3.33 3.44
Japanese Yen JPY 1.86 1.94
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 903.11 912.11
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 58.08 58.68
New Zealand Dollar NZD 164.22 166.22
Norwegians Krone NOK 25.61 25.91
Omani Riyal OMR 723.2 731.2
Qatari Riyal QAR 76.45 77.15
Singapore Dollar SGD 204.5 206.5
Swedish Korona SEK 25.31 25.61
Swiss Franc CHF 305.47 307.97
Thai Bhat THB 7.56 7.71


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