LAHORE: Yawar Hayat Khan was the “last tower of the creative era of production”, says playwright Mustansar Hussain Tarar.

“With the departure of Yawar Hayat a creative era of production and direction has come to an end,” Tarar said while talking to Dawn.

Hayat died on Thursday at the CMH, where he was under treatment after having developed lung complications. He was 73.

Tarar, who worked with Yawar Hayat as playwright and actor, said: “One became a little Yawar after being with him for a few hours. He was an excellent conversationalist and had a profound influence on anyone who met him.”

Tarar rated Yawar among the three best producers/directors . The other two are Muhammad Nisar Hussain and Kanwar Aftab Ahmed. “Yawar had a distinctive quality of production. He would give suggestions that improve the script of the drama to a great extent. Even if you started watching his TV plays midway, you immediately knew that it was a Yawar production.”

Recalling an acting experience in ‘Murat’ produced by Yawar, Tarar said: “I was finding it difficult to deliver dialogues with a female actress at Lawrence Gardens Lahore in extreme hot weather as I was wearing a jacket. Yawar put me at ease, telling me to `think as if Marilyn Monroe is with you and you have to deliver romantic dialogue’.”

Qavi Khan, the veteran actor, said Yawar Hayat had an “impressive personality and voice. Not only some producers and directors but also actors copied him”. Qavi worked in a number of Yawar plays, most notable among them being Dehleez (1981).

“Yawar was an institution in himself. He had a great command over script and we would do a lot of rehearsal to achieve perfection. He had a passion for work and his dedication to profession was exemplary,” Qavi said.

Citing an example of his excellence, Qavi recalled: “Once I had to leave for Islamabad in the middle of shooting. Yawar asked me to complete my part in a scene alone and right now. The scene was so skilfully edited that nobody could believe I acted along with some 10 other actors in the scene.”

Qavi regretted that Pakistan Television did not take care of the director after his retirement.

Munnu Bhai, a friend of Yawar’s, said: “Yawar was a highly talented man. He had a knack for putting across profound thoughts through his plays. His works had a great impact on society as well,” Munnu Bhai said.

Born on Oct 18, 1943, Yawar started his career with PTV in 1965. He received his education at Aitchison College and the Forman Christian College.

Among his memorable serials were Jhok Siyal, Samandar, Nasheman, Kundi, Dehleez and Sahil-i-Gumshuda, He was considered one of the architects of Pakistan Television’s drama serials.

Hayat had quietly faded away in recent times, prompting his friend Tarar to write a premature epitaph in a column: “Hayat is still alive in a house of Ghalib Market, Gulberg. What do ministers and advisers who are occupying television know who Yawar Hayat is?... And I have no complaint against them. It is, however, certain that if there had been no Yawar Hayat, the PTV would not have been what it is.”

Over his long career at the PTV, Hayat gave a series of star-studded plays.

It was Jhok Sayal in the mid-1970s that set the tone for what was recognised later as his brand. Set in rural Punjab and based on a novel by Shabbir Shah, the play was built around a mysterious mix of patterns, with the director’s persona adding to the appeal.

His contribution to the Lahore-style teleplay was immense. His choice for the play might have been inspired by an uncle of his, filmmaker Anwar Kamal Pasha.

Many more Yawar Hayat teleplays followed Jhok Sayal. In all of them, he invariably explored the fertile land outside the big city.

He was at his most active during the 1980s, before slowing down in the 1990s and fading out after he left the PTV in 2004.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2016

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