LAHORE: It seems to have been a tough year for famed performing arts group Ajoka Theatre. After the passing of its founder Madeeha Gauhar in April this year, news of another subsequent personality's demise has emerged.
A senior member of Ajoka acting troupe, Arshad Durrani, passed away at his Lahore residence yesterday. The 83-year-old was suffering from a prolonged illness which eventually led to a cardiac arrest. His funeral prayers were offered at a mosque in DHA with colleagues, close friends and family members in attendance. He is survived by a son and two daughters, one of which is renowned painter Sumaya Durrani.
Many of the star's colleagues including Ajoka's executive director and Gauhar's husband Shahid Nadeem, and members of the cast and crew including Nirvaan Nadeem, Usman Raj, Nayab Faiza, Nadeem Mir, Bilal Mughal, and Kanwal Christopher spoke of Durrani's contribution to theatre. Ajoka will hold a memorial event in the actor's honour tomorrow.
The Lo Phir Basant Ayee star had been suffering from cancer for the past few years but continued to perform on stage in order to entertain audiences. Nonetheless, last month saw a drastic deterioration in his health due to which he could no longer work. He spent some of his last few days at a military hospital in Lahore but was unable to recover.
Durrani was born in Lahore back in 1935 and was the son of famous scholar and journalist Maulana Tajwar Najeebabadi. He studied at Government College, Lahore, and went on serve in the Pakistan Army.
He began his acting career in the late 60s and played various leading roles in his college plays. These included Imtiaz Ali Taj’s Ispahan Ke Tuk Band and Bakheel, the latter being an adaptation by
Zafar Samdani of Moliere’s The Miser, directed by Naeem Tahir. Durrani also worked as a writer and actor for Radio Pakistan and featured in Tahir’s Jalsa Urdu Dramay Ka at PNCA back in 2005.
He began acting for Ajoka in 2014 with Lo Phir Basant Ayee in
which he played the lead role of an old kite-maker rendered jobless by
the ban on kite flying. The star also appeared in prominent roles in Ajoka’s Anhi Mai Da Sufna in 2017. Furthermore, Durrani won a profound applause in India for his spirited performance during Ajoka's Humsaya Festival last year.
His last performance was his role in Charing Cross held in Lahore early this year. It was a musical epic based on Pakistan's current political and social landscape. Alongside Durrani, the cast included Raj, Sohail Tariq, Mohammad Qaiser, Muzammil Shabbir, Hina Tariq and Nabeel Butt as well numerous newcomers.
Ajoka Theatre founder Madeeha Gohar passes away
While narrating his views, Nadeem stated that Durrani was a towering personality and a source of inspiration for all young actors. The director went on to say that his passion, involvement and devotion for the theatre and acting was beyond comparison. "He performed the memorable roles of Hara Saeen in Charing Cross, Ustad Mauju in Lo Phir Basant Ayee and Ustad Rangu in Anhi Maai Da Sufna with great perfection and command," Nadeem told The Express Tribune.
Edited by Ramsha Vistro
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