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Muslim Legends

Kamal Ahmad Rizvi

Actor and Playwright

Syed Kamal Ahmed Rizvi (1 May 1930 – 17 December 2015) was a Pakistani television actor and playwright. He was born in Bihar, British India, and died in Karachi, Pakistan. Rizvi wrote and starred in the comedy series Alif Noon (1981-82 TV season), he also showed the essence of characterization on radio and stage and won a Pride of Performance Award in 1989.

Kamal Ahmad Rizvi was born on May 1, 1930, in Gaya, a town in Bihar, India. He came to Pakistan in 1951, stayed in Karachi for some time, and then moved to Lahore. He started his theater career in 1958 at the age of 19. And in his 60 years of artistic life, he made his mark with memorable dramas. In 1965, after the establishment of the Lahore studio of Pakistan Television, he started Alif Noon for the first time in which he played the role of Alan and Rafi Khawarne Nanhe. Alif Noon was the most popular program on PTV and was telecast four times in different years. It was a sign of Alif Noon’s popularity that people waited for a week and left everything to see Alif Noon. Kamal Ahmad Rizvi wrote more than twenty plays and directed them himself and also showed the essence of acting in them.

Kamal Ahmad Rizvi was also associated with the popular children’s magazine and he was also the editor of magazines like Shama and Aina.

Remembering his past, Kamal Ahmad Rizvi says my father was very fond of reading. You can imagine that only books were seen in our house. Apart from reading books, if my father was fond of anything, it was theater. In those days, it was the only entertainment in the public sphere, but at that time it was not a theater but a gimmick in which the workers were looked down upon in the society. I was never interested in reading or writing but my home environment was such that I could not imagine staying away from education. Anyway, at least I didn’t go down without explaining myself first. When I was an eighth-grader, I read a play, I liked it very much, then I read it again, and then I read it, until I forgot that play. The school staged Shakespeare’s play Merchant of Venice.

I played the role of a Jewish clockwork in this play. During my school days, I sent a fiction in a literary magazine ‘Jamalistan’ which was also published. I had sent this fiction in the name of Kamal Rizvi. My father praised him after reading it. I started writing plays from Radio Pakistan Lahore in 1952. At that time, eminent poet Hafeez Hoshyar Puri was the director there while playwrights Shaukat Thanawi, Imtiaz Ali Taj, and Rafi Pirzada were also present. Among these people I learned the style of drama writing, I think drama has always been in my subconscious. Aslam Azhar was the General Manager of PTV in 1965. He saw my play ‘Dream Traveler’ at Al-Hamra Arts Council in Lahore and invited me to come to PTV. The Pak-India war of 1965 was over and the Lahore TV station was in its infancy, so I started working on TV from Lahore.

Kamal Ahmad Rizvi appeared in the role of A, i.e. Alan, who was also its writer, while Rafi Khawar alias Nanna appeared in the role of Nun. Alif was a character who would make fools of others while cheating was the work of his left hand but all his aspirations would be thwarted when Nun (Nanha) would put cannabis in the ring with his simplicity and foolishness. The popularity of ‘Alif Noon’ can be gauged from the fact that when it was aired, the streets would be deserted and shops would be closed.

If Kamal Ahmad Rizvi had satirical phrases on society, then Nanna’s outrageous actions would have robbed everyone. The drama series continued till November 30, 1965. It was the charm of Kamal Ahmad Rizvi’s scathing writing and then the interesting dramatic events that made the series resume in 1968, three years later, on public order. Which ended on March 18, 1969. Kamal Ahmad Rizvi said that the drama would have six days of rehearsals, one day of camera rehearsals, and then regular recordings. It will definitely be the only drama series on PTV to be aired in four seasons. The various games of the drama series were also presented in book form.

He once said, referring to the bitterness reflected in his personality: Give me a drink of boiling water, and when I scream, ask why you are screaming.” The bitterness in my mood is not because I have ever failed in love or something like that but because society has made me bitter. I am very sensitive; I will feel the abuse of someone so my heart would want me to go and kill him but I can’t do that. I sometimes ask God why I get angry when I can’t do anything but God has given me the feeling, the intellect that makes me think and write like this. Let me also tell you that this happens to every human being but because I am a well-known person you make me feel bitter.

Kamal Ahmad Rizvi passed away on December 17, 2015, at 8 pm in Karachi. He was 85 years old at the time and was buried in the local cemetery in Karachi, but he is still alive in the hearts of fans thanks to his art.

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