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The story of a proud puppeteer

December 04, 2010


“Be a puppeteer, not a puppet!” is Farooq Qaiser's advice to future puppeteers. Forty years of puppeteering has given him Pride of Performance, Life Time Achievement Award and PTV's Silver Jubilee Award besides many other national and international titles. At 65, he is contented; yet when asked about the happiest moment in his life he smiled and said: “I'm still waiting for it…!”

He is armed with graduation from NCA (1970), Master's in Graphic Arts from Rumania (1976) and Mass Communication from the University of Southern California, USA (1999).

When Farooq Qaiser graduated from the NCA, his teacher Salima Hashmi involved him with PTV's 'Akkar Bakkar'. Working with puppets and scripts along with Shoaib Hashmi, he spent many hours in their home often meeting Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Farooq Qaiser writes best in stressful times and situations; therefore, he thrives in these stressful times. Due to his work load, he had to give up his job at Lok Virsa and preferred to work on his own. Recently, he completed 'Siyasi Kaliyan' with DawnNews and returned to PTV where his programme will be appearing from January. As a script writer for innumerable programmes, he has done great deal of writing. Three of his Urdu books are in the market: 'Kaalam Galoch', 'Horpuchho', 'Meraypiyaray Allah Mian', 'Meethay Karelay'.

While in Bucharest, Rumania, studying for his Master's degree, his teacher Mr Molnar impressed him. On his return, he made his first puppet Uncle Sargam, resembling him. He sent him a picture of his puppet and made his teacher happy. Today, Uncle Sargam has become a household name in Pakistan. He has a purely Pakistani nature, personality and sense of humor.

Bushra Ansari became popular while working with Farooq Qaiser. She gave her voice for the sheep named 'Sharmeeli'. She exchanged some interesting dialogues with Uncle Sargam in a TV programme scripted by Farooq Qaiser: “I was born after you but received the Pride of Performance before you!”

Farooq Qaiser has taught his art to many students, especially at Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi. He has great hopes from the new generation and believes that they are very intelligent and talented. And whenever the country has been in a crisis, they've always risen to the occasion and defended their motherland at all costs. Intellectually, he finds them so bright that they learnt within three months all he had learnt in 30 years!

Farooq Qaiser wants all Pakistanis to be patriotic. When abroad, they should remember to be responsible and present their country's culture with grace and dignity. When inside the country, they need to work hard and honestly.

The hypocrisy prevalent in Pakistan makes him very dejected. He feels this aspect of Pakistanis has given a bad name to them as well as to Islam. If people here had been more honest with their dealings, things would have been different. Even now, it's not too late; its just a matter of realising. “We need better role models in our country.” He laments that Quaid-i-Azam died too soon.

When asked about the innumerable TV channels, Farooq Qaiser feels that like the country these came into being too quickly - when people were still unprepared for it. “We could not take care of our country properly, as we were not prepared for it. In the same way, we are not ready to be responsible in handling the media. Some channels literally appear to be anti-Pakistan.

The focus on negative issues is so great that they are taking hope away from our people.” He also believes that the media needs to be more solution oriented. There is a great need to show the positive factors in our society along with the negative ones. There is need for a balance in projection of the things.

He feels that there is also a great need for dialogue and communication among different factions in the country. He feels the need of the day is to make better systems in all fields.

In life, he believes the secret of his good health is the fact that he has lived with great contentment. When he loses something, he accepts it wholeheartedly as his destiny. He lives simply in an artistic home being mostly a vegetarian though 'daal-chawal' is his favourite dish.

“Having dreams are vital for life.” Farooq Qaiser says. “When you stop having dreams, you grow old.” This amazing man needs no strings to be pulled in order to bring order into his own life!