LAHORE: It has been 32 years since the poster boy of the urbane Pakistani film pizzazz left us. He may have lived a short life but cinema posters, VHS, home DVD, Ahmed Rushdi songs and above all, the countless memories associated with the man who perhaps defined stardom in the country immortalised him. The ‘Chocolate Hero’ started off his film career in 1962 and went on to work in around 124 films that include the likes of Armaan, Zanjeer, Zameer et al.
Now that the industry is once again locating a vantage point for inspiration, it is his very legacy that is playing the leading light. Waheed Murad was an icon with no parallels and this is the very reason why accolades poured in from around the country on the occasion of his 32nd death anniversary on Monday. It seems the tax-funded bastions of cultural activities in the country are now catching their breath and looking back at what they have been missing out on. Two ceremonies were held in Lahore to pay respects to the giant.
Alhamra Punjab Institute of Language Art and Culture (PILAC) put together a ceremony in collaboration with the All Pakistan Waheed Murad Lovers Club. Notable film bigwigs like Bahar Begum, Ghulam Mohiuddin, Jarrar Rizvi, Pervaiz Kalim and PILAC Director Dr Sughra Sadaf were seen recollecting fond memories of the time when Waheed was present among us.
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Veteran film actor Zeba said it is the very charisma of Waheed whose charm has not faded despite decades waving past. “I was the one who pushed him into starting a film career and I am lucky to have paired up with him for countless hits. I have no qualms about the fact that he was the best,” she said.
Bahar elaborated on Waheed’s enormous contribution to Pakistani films and said that he moulded our cinema with his incredible foresight. Ghulam concurred and added, “Waheed was an acting academy in himself. He was unique in his style and approach and this is the very reason why his films are still alive in the hearts and minds of the people.”
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The second ceremony was held at Lahore Press Club where veteran actor Habib was the guest of honour. The event was conceived by the All Pakistan Waheedi Organisation. During his elongated speech that was punctuated by both watery eyes and broad smiles, Habib said if anyone asks what the term ‘hero’ means in Pakistan, the answer to that is Waheed Murad. “He was a man of honour. A man who was honest to his work and had a grip over everything that had to do with acting.” Habib said it was nothing other than Waheed’s persona that shouldered films to the top at that time. “Today the industry needs another Waheed. The intial boost was given by the man who now rests in his grave,” he added. Giving a comparative overview of Waheed’s dominance on film culture across the region, he said Bollywood achieved a lot yet it was never able to give a Waheed Murad to the world.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2015.
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