Neelofar Abbasi: Basking in the afterglow of success

By Anis Shakur
Tuesday – September 29, 2020
NEW YORK (United States): Samuel Johnson, author of A Dictionary of the English Language, once opined, “What is easy is seldom excellent.” That said, let us see how Neelofar embraced one demanding challenge after another in her dazzling career to attain excellence in show business.

Pakistani luminary of yesteryear, Neelofar Aleem, became Neelofar Abbasi, after marrying the then Radio Pakistan Karachi’s assistant director, Qamar Ali Abbasi.

Neelofar’s extracurricular activities included but not limited to playing cricket and pittu, she took immense interest in school plays and after-school activities since childhood.

Hence, little Neelofar, encouraged by her dedicated parents’ blessings and permission, wrote down the script meant for a stage drama.

Next, Neelofar and her girlfriends endeavoured to stage a mini-play in her home. For some reason it did not work out well.

Going forward, Neelofar was well acquainted with the Karachi radio stations artists from her earliest days. Primarily, because her mother happened to be a radio artist as well.

Years passed by and Neelofar completed high school.

Soon Neelofar secured admission in D.J. Science college.

Subsequently, she successfully completed Masters in Microbiology from Karachi University.

We seldom meet someone so young who made such a difference. All through these times, she was in constant touch with the radio and television stations.

Reverting to her school days, Radio Pakistan Karachi’s Lumineers, Talat Husain and Sajida Syed, were incessant source of inspiration to Neelofar.

While Neelofar studied in D.J. Science college, Karachi, Radio Pakistan Karachi conducted audition for “Jashn-e-talaba,” Neelofar also participated in the audition.

The voice judges unanimously approved Neelofar. Thus, Nilofer’s superb fulfilment in “Jashn-e-talaba,” earned name and fame both to Neelofar and to the D.J. science college.

Truth said, Nilofer’s “Have a gratitude attitude,” fetched laurels to her from far and wide. Undoubtedly, few artists possess the charm and grace of Neelofar. As for Neelofar, she continued wholesomely.

One of Nilofer’s earliest drama was broadcast from studio number 9, Karachi Radio station, namely, “Hisaar,” penned by Haseena Moin. Regarding Neelofar’s tasks, truth shines through every frame. Thanks to Neelofar’s enormous artistic skills.

The dialogues which Neelofar uttered throughout her occupation will be remembered for decades. As one reminisces the days gone by, one come across Nilofer’s Pakistani television’s earliest play, “Khumaar zeher alood.”

The true emotions conveyed by the depth of Neelofar’s mellifluous voice is exemplary. Neelofar’s love and devotion towards millions of her admirers proves for the umpteenth time the spirit of the eastern cultural values thrives to this day.

Neelofar’s second television drama was “Jahan birf girti hai,” that brings in my mind the emotionally charged phrase, “Babu jee phool logey.” In the realm of ingenuity, Neelofar had achieved almost near reverential status.

What is more, Neelofar remembers to this day, the experiential knowledge she received during her childhood days.

Quite obviously, fans and critics alike remember Neelofer’s true legacy, her absolute, unequivocal, dedication, discipline and most of all, her utmost commitment, during rehearsals, takes and the decisive moments after the shots were eventually approved.

In all probability, those of us, who have listened to her radio programs and watched her television drama are the fortunate ones.

Experience and expertise can mean different things to different people. It seems to me that to Neelofar, it meant doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.

Possibly what could be a better instance of Neelofar’s flair than the 1969 television play, “Inspector.”

It is quite discern-able that Neelofar had poured her heart and soul into acting, as is evident in the November, 1970, television drama, “Khabar hai Aanay ki,” cast included, Neelofar, Zooni Butt.

Presumably, Neelofar must have felt ecstatic in 1970, when little master, Hanif Mohammad,  presented her the “Tyfon,” award.

In reality, during those days, working for the show business was a calling like no other, and Neelofar took enormous pride in her assignments. A befitting example is the May, 1971 PTV play, “Intizaar hai unka,” cast included Neelofar, Nasreen Azhar, wife of former Pakistan Television (PTV) Karachi general manager, Aslam Azhar.

The stupendous strides Neelofar made to ameliorate her acting paid dividends in the PTV play, “Resham,” the cast included Neelofar, Zeenat Yasmeen.

Apparently, Neelofar, smartly dubbed as the bold and bodacious “Tara,” in Hasina Moin’s 1973 super-duper television drama serial, “Shehzori,” earned accolades from the Pakistani community all over the world.

47 years later, as we reflect on Nilofer’s repartee, “Mein bohut buri Aadmi hoon,” we realise that it reached a crescendo in 2020.

In all her perennial plays, and heartfelt drama serials, remarkable Neelofar left us an indelible, eternal image of a better and gorgeous world.

Truth said the 1969-1970 were significant, glorious moments in the annals of Pakistani television, harbinger of comforting, persuading performances to come.

In 1969, Neelofar’s first Eid-ul-Fitr play, “Eid Ka Jora,” penned by Hasina Moin, for the Pakistani television, in which Neelofar and Talat Husain played the lead. Neelofar was dubbed as “Kaneezan, while Talat Hussain played “Karim.”

Overwhelmed by Neelofar’s immense talents in “Eid Ka Jora,” Begum Nusrat Bhutto became one of her most ardent adorers. So much so that, Nusrat was the special guest in Neelofar’s wedding ceremony.

Essentially, all of Neelofar’s performances holds incredible interest, basically because of her truly convincing presentations. Perhaps, in some ways, all of Neelofar’s memorable characters are just as commitment to her art as possibly it could be.

In a more fulsome tribute, Neelofar judiciously prided herself on her extraordinary, unpretentious, creativity, as is conspicuous in her second 1970 Eid-ul-Fitr play, “Happy Eid Mubarak,” written by Hasina Moin, for the Pakistani television.

Neelofar – Shakeel played the lead. Qurban Jilani played Shakeel’s elder brother.

Indeed, every second of the final moments of “Happy Eid,’ are worth watching, when Neelofar and Shakeel wish each other “Happy Eid Mubarak and “Eid Mubarak,” respectively, just before the credits starts rolling.

Moreover, Neelofar graced the show business, with her unparalleled personality. To date she remains the emblem of intelligence and good judgement.

Further, Neelofar who possesses a natural instinct for dramatics, offered superb  work in a serious, didactic drama, “Burda Farosh,’ in which Neelofar appeared as a kidnapped girl.

Furthermore, in the realm of tragic plays, Neelofar’s standout brilliance is highly laudable. What could be a better occasion of her skills other than “Burda Farosh.”

Pakistani television viewers who share enthusiasm and aptitude, agree that Neelofar excels in all her plays. Neelofar’s character in Hasina Moin’s television play, “Rumi,” has an enduring quality, so is its production.

Through all those years, Neelofar’s passion for presentation never ebbed. Per proverb, “Setting a good example influence people more than precepts.” A case in point is Haseena Moin’s Radio play, “Hisaar.”

As we commemorate and honour the celebrities of yesteryear, it brings in my mind Neelofar’s outstanding performance in Haseena Moin’s radio play “Tah-e-Daam,” in 1970, which was recorded for “Jashn-e-tamseeel.”

As the years passed, Neelofar kept working diligently as always. The clarity of the story and Neelofar’s brilliant acting keep the viewers glued to their seats. As it did in Haseena Moin’s television drama, “Naya Raasta,” which happened to be Shakeel’s debut drama as well, Kanwar Aftab Ahmed directed the drama.

“I have always delighted most in my work as an artist.” Neelofar once remarked. Moreover, Neelofar took acting that had been at a certain level for quite sometime and worked out things up.

Reverting to her plays, Pakistani television offered Neelofar in good faith to be part of the drama serial, “Zeir, zabar, pesh.” However, due to her firm commitments in the Pakistan national centre, Neelofar had to decline the invitation with a heavy heart.

In the same tone, soon after marrying Qamar, Neelofar was unable to accept an offer for the television drama “Guria,” as well.

Strictly speaking, Radio Pakistan Karachi, was, in fact, Neelofar’s  second home. The drama serial, “Faaltu Aadmi,” was one of Neelofar’s earliest Radio plays.

Neelofar’s singular appearance and highly refined etiquettes persists to this day. What is more, for millions of listeners, Neelofar has been long celebrated as a pivotal point in the Radio Pakistan Karachi’s eventful history.

Interestingly enough, those were the most exciting, exhilarating, moving and outstanding moments, when Neelofar used to present the daily Radio Pakistan Karachi’s morning program, “Subhe-nau.”

First and foremost, thanks to Neelofar’s utmost dedication, her fingers were always on the pulse of what the public were desirous to hear on the Radio. Second of all, Neelofar would not just permit failure.

Third of all, as the saying goes, “There is no substitute for a friendly face,” Neelofar’s friendly face, coupled with the poise and intelligence Neelofar displayed each day of her life, was quite clear in “Subh-e-nau.”

After marrying Qamar, Neelofar said farewell to the Pakistani television. Soon afterwards, she was hired as director, Pakistan national centre.

Years ago, Radio Pakistan Karachi intended to initiate audition to pick up future talented to be artists. Hence, “Aakhri Chatan,” famed Qasim Jalali’s elder brother, Hashim Jalali, who happened to be Neelofar’s mentor as well, persuaded her to appear for an audition.

Neelofar agreed, and pass the audition. Going forward, Neelofar’s earliest Radio drama was “Faaltoo Aadmi.”

Likewise, equally impressive was Neelofar’s poignant dialogue,”Babu jee phool logey, in her next play, “Jahan barf girti hai.”

Yet, another conspicuous facet of Neelofar’s career is one-hour Pakistani television documentary on her, while she studied in Karachi University.

The avowed purpose of the highly informative documentary was to create awareness amongst the young inquisitive generation that educated enlightened artists like Neelofar are an integral part of the Pakistani television.

Undoubtedly, those formative years had been a truly rewarding experience and imposing Neelofar was already looking forward to the next arduous challenge.

Vivid memories about her hectic schedule is worth mentioning. When on the one hand, Neelofar studied in Karachi University, and on the other, the then Karachi radio director, Yawar Mehdi, had her trained on various aspects like regular radio programs, including voiceover. 

Further, one of Neelofar’s classmates, Perveen Shakir, penned a script for Karachi radio’s student week and Neelofar produced it.

In 1991, Neelofar along with her immediate family, settled down in New York, and worked for the cable television’s “Good morning Pakistan,”

Academic, as she is, Neelofar wrote down her monumental work, her memoirs, “Kahi Unkahi,” in which she dealt at length with experiential lessons, encountered with her fellow radio and television artists, directors, producers, friends, and, most of all, her loving parents.

“Kahi Unkahi,” was officially launched during her visit to Pakistan.

Additionally, during her illustrious career, Neelofar also contributed articles to the Pakistani weekly Urdu digest, “Pakeeza.” 

Most important of all, Neelofar always showed eagerness for tapping into the moods of the times with well measured strategy.

Talking of rewards, Dr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, minister of state for capital administration, presented wonder women of the year Award, 2015, to Neelofar.

Perhaps, from thousands of tributes paid to Neelofar, Haseena Moin said it best with certitude, “From day one of her spectacular show business career, till the last day of her splendid act, Neelofar’s star did not fade,” and hopefully it never will.

Next in TDR’s Classics, “Mala Saheba”

Info: Eminent storyteller, Anis Shakur, is a Pakistani born United States (US) citizen. He works for the US federal and State government. He resides at a stone-throw distance from the darting shores of the Atlantic ocean in New York, for the past three decades.