LAHORE: Naheed Khanum – the pioneer of commercial theatre in Pakistan has passed away at a private hospital in Lahore on Thursday. The renowned writer and senior stage director had been battling diabetes and cardiac problems for the past 10 years and was 68 at the time of her death.
Naheed hailed from a family of artists, with nearly 50 years of service to the local theatre circuit under her belt. Her mother Parveen Begum was also a popular film actor from the prep-Partition era while her son Ali Raza is currently working as a stage producer in Lahore. Naheed’s sister Anjuman is also an actor.
During her lifetime, Naheed wrote and directed hundreds of stage plays, including hits such as Kaali Kalooti De Nakhre Bare, Time Pass, Ishq Nachaya and Hello Uncle. But she is most revered for introducing new talent to the industry, some of whom – namely Amanullah, Shoki Khan, Mastana, Tariq Tadi, Zafri Khan, Hina Shaheen, Nasir Chiniyoti, Naseem Vicky, Sheeba Butt and Beena Sehar – went on to become very successful. Even during her illness, Naheed did not give up on theatre and her death is likely to be a huge blow to the industry.
Sheeba recalled her first experience of working with the late director. “It was Naheed who made me an actor,” she said. “It was Naheed who started commercial theatre for the sake of entertaining others. It was Naheed who made stars out of so many unknown actors. I bear witness to her countless services to the theatre industry.”
Beena echoed the sentiments, adding, “Whatever we do on stage has been taught to us by Naheed. For me, she was the best director and writer we had. Who else could write and direct a thousand plays? She worked day and night, despite being a woman, and will be missed dearly.”
“Naheed was indeed a force to be reckoned with. She wasn’t just a director or a writer but also well-aware of other aspects of theatre, such as set designing and technical equipment,” added stage director Qaiser Javaid. “And, on top of that, she was a great mentor and an even better human being.”
Naheed was put to rest on Thursday by a large number of people from Lahore’s theatre circuit who had come to pay their final respects to her.
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