Farooq Qaiser (left), who ruled millions of hearts by spreading smiles through his work for decades, passed away in Islamabad due to cardiac arrest.
Tanvir Usman, Staff Reporter
There are a few people in Pakistan who are loved by all irrespective of race, region and religion. Farooq Qaiser, the man behind legendary Uncle Sargam, was one of them. He was a beloved to the multiple generations of Pakistanis, who watched his TV shows since 1976.
Qaiser, who ruled millions of hearts by spreading smiles through his work for decades, passed away in Islamabad due to cardiac arrest. His demise left all those in tears to whom he gave beautiful child memories. He is survived by three children, a son and two daughters. His fans say the void left by his death can’t be filled in years to come.
In 1980s and early 90s, when the state-run PTV was the only source of entertainment for majority of Pakistanis, Qaiser’s show got huge popularity and he remained a household name for decades.
His portrayal of "Uncle Sargam," a puppet character, remained immensely popular among people from all walks of life across the country.
He made his debut in a children’s show "Kaliyan" at the Pakistan Television in 1976 and since then never looked back. As the time passed, he became a “family member” for millions of his countrymen. The way he highlighted the social issues and educated the children and youth will always be remembered.
Recognising his services for educating the society through humorous way, the government of Pakistan awarded him the Presidential Pride of Performance award in 1993.
In March this year, he was awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz during a ceremony at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on Pakistan Day.
"Kaliyan," "Sargam Time" and "Putli Tamasha" are popular TV shows of Qaiser. His duo with another character on the show, Maasi Museebatay, achieved legendary status over the years.
Though he shot to fame for his renowned puppet character Uncle Sargam, he was also a columnist, director, scriptwriter and a voice-over artist.
Qaiser remained associated with the UNESCO and wrote several humorous books.
Soon after the news of his death was broadcast, condolences and tributes started pouring in from many public figures.
Notables from politics to showbiz took to Twitter to pay homage to the late artist for the impact he created on society through his work.
Prime Minister Imran Khan and opposition leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif were among the top figures, who paid respects to the beloved Uncle Sargam.
“Saddened to learn of Farooq Qaiser’s death. He was not just a performer but would constantly raise awareness about social injustices and issues. My condolences and prayers go to his family,” Imran tweeted.
Shahbaz Sharif said in a tweet: “Grieved to learn about the passing away of Farooq Qaiser, a legend and icon of our times. He was part & parcel of generations that grew up watching his performances. He spread smiles through his work & his services for television will be remembered for long. Rest in peace!!!”
Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood tweeted: “Very sorry to learn of Farooq Qaiser’s sad passing away. Uncle Sargam to an entire generation he left an indelible mark on our culture. May his soul rest in peace.”
Nadeem Farooq Paracha, a columnist said: “An unsung genius. Developed a puppet show for children on PTV in 1970s which evolved to became highly satirical. He created memorable characters, especially Uncle Sargam. One segment of the show was called, ‘Science bari ya bhense’ which mocked pseudoscience and quackery. RIP.”
Singer and actor Ali Zafar said in a social media post: “One of the most inspiring human beings I knew. A writer/artist that I had the privilege to meet at the President’s award ceremony just recently. Even sitting on his chair, he seemed taller than the rest with a look of eternal love and respect in his eyes. R.I.P #FarooqQaiser.”
Popular singer Adnan Sami said: “I am extremely shocked & saddened by the tragic news that my dear friend the legendary Farooq Qaiser bhai is no more… I knew him for 40 yrs! We even worked together. What an enormous talent & an incredible soul. So long Uncle Sargam.”
Pakistani celebrities and politicians expressed their grief over the news. Netizens also offered prayers for the departed actor and condolences to his family.
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"The only comfort we have is knowing Angus is now reunited with his dad, who was his best friend," said his family.
Parineeti was the first to walk in by herself, accompanied by airline staff, dressed entirely in red in loose-fitting casual clothes.