KARACHI: Despite a burgeoning entertainment industry, it is rather common for Pakistani artists to have to fend for themselves, no matter what their contributions to the country. There are many who dedicated their lives to entertaining Pakistan but are now barely making ends meet. Most recently, news of actor Matloob ur Rehman — better known as Zakoota from Ainak Wala Jin — struggling to survive surfaced and attracted much attention from the media and fans of the legendary show. In fact, reading Rehman’s heartbreaking story prompted sports journalist and cricket statistician Mazher Arshad to establish a fund to support him. Now, Ajlal Bukhari — who worked as a child star on the PTV hit — has set up an organisation titled Save My Star to help others with similar fates, focusing on sports and entertainment personalities only.
Speaking with The Express Tribune, Bukhari revealed that his charity will collaborate with the Aasra Welfare Society, which was established in 2006, and provide healthcare and education-related costs for the children of those selected. Aasra’s Chairman Qavi Khan, President Sohail Ahmed Azizi and General Secretary Asim Bukhari are all on board. “The project is very much in the initial stages. We are planning to make it membership-based and hold fundraisers and charity dinners to collect the funds,” shared Bukhari.
Although he is the only one managing Save My Star thus far, Bukhari remains focused on his goals. “What is important is how those in need can approach the organisation for support,” he said. “The stars will have to write an application to Aasra and we will check their backgrounds, difficulties and their respective cases, overall. Once they qualify, we shall start the process of delivering whatever help they require.”
Selection depends upon each individual case as some artists need healthcare or education while others are struggling to get basic necessities of life. “As I mentioned earlier, each case will be different. We will support the stars according to their needs. There is no quota system on the amount of support.”
Considering how stories like that of Rehman’s are rampant, one wonders whose responsibility it is to alleviate the stars’ troubles. Many a times, it is the stars themselves who bring upon difficulties due to poor judgement. Acccording to Bukhari, this kind of self-destruction is common to theatre artists in particular. “I understand where this perception comes from and agree that it is often one’s own fault,” he said. “Nonetheless, there are many who deserve to be supported; many who have done everything they can to create a sound future for their children but received no assistance from the government. They served Pakistan and should be taken care of.”
Save My Star is already well in motion. This Eid, Bukhari sent cheques worth Rs20,000 each to Rehman and Shehzad Qaiser as well, who played Nastoor in Ainak Wala Jin.