Homage paid to Durdana Butt, Nyla Jaffri

Published September 2, 2021
Munawwar Saeed speaks at the memorial event.—White Star
Munawwar Saeed speaks at the memorial event.—White Star

KARACHI: Friends, colleagues and admirers of actresses Durdana Butt and Nyla Jaffri — who passed away on Aug 12 and July 17, respectively, — paid homage to them at a condolence reference held in their honour by the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi on Tuesday evening.

Sharing her views on the occasion, Maliha Anwar Khan, a niece of Ms Butt, said her aunt and Ms Jaffri were friends. When the latter died the family did not inform Ms Butt of her death because she was also unwell. Ms Khan said that her aunt was like a mother to her. The reason that she received many a message on her demise was that Ms Butt was like a sheltering tree. She also recited a poem in Urdu that she wrote after Ms Butt’s passing.

Theatre artist and writer Kulsoom Aftab said Ms Butt’s personality was such that she would bring people closer to herself (apna bana laity theen) through the television screen [by virtue of her performance]. About Ms Jaffri she said that she got to know her better when the late artist worked in a stage play directed by Zia Mohyeddin. Like a writer or director, she would have her finger on the pulse of the character that she played. Also, she had an activist streak.

‘Whatever character she [Durdana] played brought a smile to people’s faces’

Journalist Imran Shirvanee said he got to interact with Ms Butt when she was presented with a script whose pilot never got edited, and found her to be a nice person. But he had been friends with Ms Jaffri for 30 years. Giving an example of how good a person she was, he said once when he did a story for a TV news channel about scarcity of water in Surjani Town, Ms Jaffri phoned him to inquire about the issue. She then asked him to take her to the locality and not just that, took along with her two tankers of water. She also worked tirelessly for Balakot after it was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2005.

Mr Shirvanee lamented that except for one actor, Paras Masroor, no one from the showbiz community turned up at her funeral.

Actor Munawwar Saeed said when he went to Lahore in 1970 to settle in the city, he saw a girl riding a motorcycle. Afterwards, during a meet-up for a stage production he saw that girl there, it was Ms Butt. “Whatever character she played brought a smile to people’s faces.” With Ms Jaffri he only did a single project and found her to be very respectful of senior artists.

Actress and director Misbah Khalid said she has lost two of her close friends. Their deaths should make us realise that whatever we run after — fame, money etc — at the end of the day means nothing. “What a lovely person Durdana was. Both Durdana and Nyla were positive and giving people.”

TV producer Zaheer Khan said he met Ms Butt in Karachi for the first time. She worked with him in a play penned by Anwar Maqsood made for the morning transmission. But with her his relationship was beyond the world of dramas. Ms Jaffri belonged to a later generation. She respected directors and writers.

Actor Khaled Anam said both Ms Butt and Ms Jaffri have not passed on because “a person dies when s/he is forgotten”. He told the audience that both actresses loved humanity. He narrated the story of how Ms Jaffri once helped an actor who had fallen on hard times. About Ms Butt he said she was a malang who was an admirer of Zaheen Shah Taji Baba.

PTV GM Amjad Shah went down memory lane about the period when Ms Jaffri did the part of PTV MD in a drama in which PTV’s history was highlighted. And for Ms Butt, he said looking at her made one receive maternal love (mamta ka piyar).

The programme was anchored by Dr Huma Mir.

Saadat Ali Jafri, Iqbal Latif, Kamaluddin Ahmed, Irfanullah Khan, Bakhtiar Laghari, Rizwan Siddiqui, Shehryar Zaidi, Adil Wadia and Ahmed Shah also spoke.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2021

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