Farooq Qaiser portrayal of "Uncle Sargam," a puppet character he created and also lent his voice to, became hugely popular in Pakistan.
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Pakistan’s legendary artist Farooq Qaiser alias Uncle Sargam has passed away due to cardiac arrest, his family confirmed. His grandson, Hasnain Qaiser Iqbal, said Farooq Qaiser had been suffering from a heart ailment for some time. He said that his condition worsened after which an ambulance rushed him to a hospital but he could not be revived.
Farooq Qaiser is survived by three children, a son and two daughters. He was born in Lahore on Oct.31, 1945, and was educated at the National College of Arts. He also obtained a Master's in Graphic Arts from Romania in 1976 and another postgraduate degree in Mass Communication from the University of Southern California, USA, in 1999.
Farooq Qaiser was a columnist, director, puppeteer, scriptwriter and a voice-over artist. He also wrote several humorous books and provided educational services in India for two years as part of Unesco.
His portrayal of "Uncle Sargam," a puppet character he created and also lent his voice to, became hugely popular in Pakistan and remained a household name for decades.
Uncle Sargam was first introduced in a television show for kids, Kaliyan, when it was broadcast on Pakistan Television (PTV) in 1976. His duo with another character on the show, Maasi Museebatay, achieved legendary status over the years.
Along with Kaliyan, Putli Tamasha and Sargam Time were Qaiser's most loved TV shows. He was awarded the Presidential Pride of Performance award in 1993 for his craft. Earlier this year, he was awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz during a ceremony at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Pakistan Day.
Prime Minister Imran Khan and other government officials and celebrities expressed their sadness over the demise of Qaiser. The premier remembered him not just as a performer but as someone who "would constantly raise awareness about social injustices and issues.”
Imran extended his condolences on Qaiser's demise, adding that he was saddened to learn of his passing. "He was not just a performer but would constantly raise awareness about social injustices and issues."
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said Qaiser had revived the "centuries old craft of Putli Tamasha" through his "unforgettable" character of Uncle Sargam.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz said Farooq Qaiser would be remembered for "spreading smiles and laughter." "This perhaps is the biggest service you can do to your fellow humans. Thank you for the beautiful, unforgettable childhood memories like Uncle Sargam.”
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid, expressed "deep sorrow and grief" on his death. He praised Farooq Qaiser as a "very intelligent" writer, playwright and cartoonist and hailed his ability to portray national issues through satire and humour.
"Uncle Sargam was popular with people of all ages because of his art and personality. His vacancy in journalism and television will never be filled. His work towards educating children and youth will always be remembered," said Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan.
In 1980s and early 90s, when the state-run PTV was the only source of entertainment for majority of Pakistanis, Farooq Qaiser’s show got huge popularity and he remained a household name for decades.
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