Zia Mohyeddin
Zia Mohyeddin

KARACHI: A documentary titled Some Lover to Some Beloved — Koi Aashiq Kisi Mehboob Se —by Umar Riaz on the life and work of the internationally renowned artist and President Emeritus of the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa), Zia Mohyeddin, was screened at the academy.

The maker of the film, which first came out a few years back, is Mr Mohyeddin’s grandnephew. The director had flown in from Lahore to take part in the event. It was a delight to see a big number of people — the auditorium was packed like sardines — turning up for the screening; and as soon the attendees realised that Mr Mohyeddin was amongst them, they received him with a warm round of applause.

The name of the documentary is taken from a Faiz Ahmed Faiz poem. It is evident from the get-go that the director is drawing a connection between the poet and Mr Mohyeddin who’s had a profound impact on the latter as a creative person.

While the poetic mood runs throughout the narration, the film is much more than revisiting the growth of the legendary actor, poetry reader and director. For example, not too long into the story, the viewer gets to hear the unflattering state that the Urdu language currently finds itself in. The younger generation doesn’t know how to read it and correct pronunciation doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore.

But then, the narration keeps returning to Mr Mohyeddin (who is brilliantly bilingual — English and Urdu — and one knows that he is proficient in some other languages as well), informing the audience about his early days, his first visit to Australia in 1951, his major West End offer as an actor, his association with the celebrated film-maker David Lean, his stint as a talk show host for PTV in the 1970s, etc, to the latter part of his career.

The marked feature of the documentary is that it isn’t flashy. The director has kept things simple, focusing on subjects and people, such as his cousin Dawood Rehbar, that are close to Mr Mohyeddin’s heart.

Prior to the start of the show, Napa chief executive Junaid Zuberi said the evening was dedicated to Mr Mohyeddin. From the time he joined the academy as its chief executive he wanted to screen the film, which he had already seen in 2020, on Napa premises.

He had even watched it on Thursday afternoon and was excited to see it again, more importantly in Mr Mohyeddin’s presence.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2022

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