Actor Nashila, a pioneer of musical parody in local theatre, passed away at the age of 65 on Sunday following a heart attack.
Born in Lahore as Shaukat Ali, Nashila received a minimal education and began his acting career by performing at small events like weddings and festivals, said his son Noorul Hassan.
He became attached to the theatre scene that developed around the creation of Alhamra in the 1970s and worked closely with writer and director Naheed Khanum. He was also heavily involved in the developing commercial theatre in the early 1980s.
Khanum said that it was her collaboration with Nashila which led her to introduce songs for the first time in stage plays. The popular Qawal Challa that Nashila became known for debuted in Ek Say Bara Ek.
“At the time, plays lasted for several hours. I felt that by introducing a song, we were able to give the audience a break. It proved very successful,” said Khanum.
Nashila also took up small roles in productions outside of Alhamra at the Mehfil and Naz theatres in Lahore. He appeared in several minor roles on television and film, but his career in front of the camera never really took off.
“He was the type of artist who never asked for work. I suppose that he never got the recognition that he deserved,” said Khanum. “I think ... he did his best work with me. He maintained a sort of purity in the work that he did.”
Stage director Qaiser Javed, who was a close friend of Nashila, said that he had developed the concept of the one-man show, which provided the basis for future styles of parody in Pakistan of the kind now generally seen on television.
Javed said that Nashila had a very good voice as well as an inherent creativity. His qawwal parodies included musical legends such as Shaukhat Ali, Alam Lohar and Tufail Niazi.
“He was well respected amongst his peers. I think his role in pioneering the one-man show and qawal parodies left a lasting impact on theatre and acting,” said Javed.
The actor was a diabetic and had been suffering from several ailments, said his son Noorul Hassan. He had five children including three sons and two daughters.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2013.
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