KARACHI, May 31: Veteran artiste Subhani Bayunus, whose portrayal of Mirza Ghalib in a PTV play catapulted him to fame in the 1960s, died after a long illness on Wednesday. He was 75.

Subhani Bayunus, who leaves a son and a daughter, was buried in the Yasinabad graveyard.

He performed in a large number of radio, theatre and TV plays. He also performed in a handful of films.

Born in Hyderabad Deccan, India, in 1931, Subhani Bayunus belonged to a religious family that had migrated to India more than a century ago from Hadhramaut, Yemen. He joined radio at a very early age and Aurangabad Radio’s “Kitabkhana” was the first play he lent his voice for. After migrating to Pakistan in August 1949, he auditioned at Radio Pakistan, Karachi, but was rejected twice. He managed to join radio on the strength of playwright Khawaja Moinuddin’s recommendation.

Initially, Subhani Bayunus performed mostly in Khawaja Moinuddin’s plays and it was also to him that he owed his move to PTV. It so happened that after the tremendous success of Khawaja sahib’s “Lal Qilay Sey Lalukhet Tuk” and “Taleem-i-Balghaan”, the writer was invited to adapt the plays for television. Subhani Bayunus, who had performed important roles in these plays on radio, took on the acting assignments on TV with equal facility and subsequent success. He managed to carve out a niche for himself on PTV with brilliant performances in plays like Lal Qilay Sey Lalukhet Tuk, Taleem-i-Balghaan, Tanhayian, Khuda Ki Basti, Mera Naam Mangu, Intizar Farmaiye, Janey Do, Insan Aur Aadmi, Ba Adab Ba Mulahiza Hoshiar, Akahri Chataan and Labbaik.

He had a knack of playing mystery roles and did a superb job with the lead role of detective Inspector Zuberi in Ali Zafar Jafri’s mystery series which was aired on both TV and Radio. He played character roles in many episodes of NTM’s Mystery Theatre which was re-telecast on a private TV channel a couple of years ago.

Subhani Bayunus also tried his hand in films and performed the role of a villain in Iqbal Akhtar’s “Nadaan” (1973). He played character roles in Ather Shah Khan’s “Aas Paas” (1982) and Iqbal Akhtar’s comeback failure “Muskurahat” (1995). He also acted in a Gujarati film titled “Mann Tey Maan” and Javed Jabbar’s English-language film “Beyond the Last Mountain” (1977).

It is said that the Mirza Ghalib role that made Subhani Bayunus a household name in the 1960s was originally given to Mohammad Yousuf. But the renowned man of letters Nazar Hyderabadi insisted that the role be given to Subhani Bayunus whose height and appearance made him bear a striking resemblance to Ghalib. Subhani Bayunus also played Ghalib in a documentary made by the directorate of films and publications in 1968 as part of Ghalib’s centenary celebrations.

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