Farooq Qaiser passes away at 75

Islamabad – Agencies:

Farooq Qaiser alias Uncle Sargam passed away in Islamabad on Friday due to cardiac arrest, his family confirmed.

His grandson, Hasnain Qaiser Iqbal, said he had been suffering from a heart ailment for some time. He added that his condition worsened on Friday after which an ambulance rushed him to a hospital but he could not be revived.

He is survived by three children, a son and two daughters, according to Iqbal.

Qaiser was born in Lahore on October 31, 1945, and was educated at the National College of Arts. He also attained a Master’s in Graphic Arts from Romania (1976) and another postgraduate degree in Mass Communication from the University of Southern California, USA, (1999).

He 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.

Qaiser’s 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-i-Imtiaz during a ceremony at Aiwan-i-Sadr on Pakistan Day.

A chapter of art closed: President

President Dr Arif Alvi Friday expressed condolence over the death of renowned writer and artist Farooq Qaiser saying that with his passing, an important chapter of art in Pakistan has been closed.

He said later Farooq Qaiser had rendered invaluable services in the field of art and the conferment of Pride of Performance and Tamgha-e-Imtiaz national awards were in fact a matter of honor for the state.

Through his character Uncle Sargam, late Farooq Qaiser had highlighted various social issues besides achieving distinction in the field of puppetry, the president remarked.

He also prayed for peace of the departed soul and strength to the grieved family to bear the loss with fortitude.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan 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.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said 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,” she said.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid, meanwhile, expressed “deep sorrow and grief” on his death. He praised 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.

PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal said he was deeply saddened by the “demise of our legendary artist and thinker”.