Pakistani Showbiz

In the past, dramas would have a lesson, says veteran actor Nisar Qadri


Renowned actor Nisar Qadri will be awarded the President’s Pride of Performance on March 23 in recognition of his 50-year acting career.

Mr Qadri started his acting career with Pakistan Television’s (PTV) drama serial Deewarein in 1966 and since then he has played a variety of roles on TV, in films, theatre and in radio dramas. For a few years now, Mr Qadri has not acted in new dramas because of his health condition. He is suffering from facial palsy and says he plans to return to TV once he has recovered.

The actor often visits the Rawalpindi Arts Council and Pakistan National Council of Arts. Dawn caught up with the actor and talked about how the industry has changed with time.

Q: What is the difference between performing arts of the past and now?

There was only one television channel in Pakistan 50 years ago, which was PTV, and it would present just a few dramas. But things have changed so much since then. With the growth of the industry, the number of dramas has increased and the industry is so commercial now. In the past, few dramas would be written and writers would work hard on the story while actors would strive to bring emotion to their characters.

Intellectuals like Manu Bhai, Amjad Islam Amjad and others wrote dramas and they would always have a lesson at the end. The dramas would attract audience because they were based on real problems. Directors would also work hard to understand the story and the message in it and actors put on better performances.

Q: How would you compare actors of today to actors of the past?

In the past, actors would come to TV either from theatre or from radio. For actors, radio served as an academy, where senior artists would teach us dialogue delivery and how to improve our pronunciation. They would teach us how to master different expressions.

With growth in the media industry, actors are stepping directly into their first dramas without having been properly guided and this is not their fault. There are no performing arts academies in this country. It is the government’s duty to set up academies where senior artists can share their experiences with new performers. In the past, college and university students would take part in extracurricular activities like dramas and singing and poetry competitions which would be held regularly. They had a chance to explore their talents, whether that be writing, acting, singing or directing and they had a chance to practice.

However, I think television dramas will be improving in the future.

Q: Is there a difference in films and dramas in this country?

There is a limited audience for our films whereas a lot of people watch dramas. Our dramas have played a major role in bringing improvements to our society and in reviving our culture. However, films are just made for entertaining a certain audience. Our film industry has been in decline for the last few decades and need to be revived.

Although new films have been made, they still need to be improved.

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