Saleem Nasir: Broken Hearts Broken Dreams

By Anis Shakur
Sunday – April 26, 2020
NEW YORK (United States): 'You can change your life by changing your thinking. You can make anything of your life that you wish and that you are willing to work for.’ This maxim holds so true to the television great, Salim Nasir.

Saleem Nasir was born Syed Sher Khan in an enlightened family on November 15, 1945, in Nagpur, India. After independence, he migrated to Zila Mardan, Pakistan along with his family.

He took pride in being a Pushto – speaking Pathan. The ever-amazing Salim Nasir had all the ingredients necessary to fulfil his ambition in any given profession.

After graduation, he built a successful career as a public relations officer (PRO), in defence housing authority (DHA), Karachi.

His role in the film 'Zaib-un-nisa' was an enjoyable and sharp surprise. Theatrical release of 'Zaib-un-nisa' was in 1976, director, Fareed Ahmed, cast included, Waheed Murad- Shamim Ara- Aaliya- Salim Nasir.

His immense acting potential was soon recognised by Pakistani television. His fabulous acting in the comedy drama serial, 'Aangan tera,’ captivated a nation.

Salim Nasir played the role of a servant, Akbar, in 'Aangan tera'. As the story goes, Akbar used to be a dancer, before he was hired as a servant, by a retired civil service employee, Shakeel, dubbed as Mehboob Ahmed.

Akbar also acted as Mehboob's advisor on different matters. Directed by Qaiser Farooq, writer, Anwar Maqsood, cast included Salim Nasir- Bushra Ansari- Shakeel- Arshad Mehmood.

Salim Nasir was described best as an extraordinary artist and master of the highly specialised field of acting. His competency and artistic skills were unmatched.

His greatness shines through in the television play 'Dastak,' in which he played the role of a very strict lawyer. Cast included Salim Nasir- Ayaz Naik- Shazia Akhtar- Qazi Wajid.

Small screen legend, Salim Nasir, achieved so much fame so soon, which was quite a rarity. One marvels at his comprehension of words, as one watch his performances on television.

He uttered the lyrics with complete understanding. Additionally, his voice had resonance, depth and strength, which was ideal for the various characters he was offered to play from time to time.

He was a man who had no desire to compare his special talents with his competitors because he had faith in his own abilities. One of those days, Salim Nasir hosted a special Eid show. Dressed in all-white, he shared his feelings with his fellow artists.

Moreover, he built a phenomenal career on being versatile. His utterance of dialogues was remarkably authoritative in the prominent drama serial 'Unkahi'.

It is a story of ordinary people trying to make it against all odds. Beautifully written by Haseena Moin and a solidly researched play. Cast included Salim Nasir as mamu, Shehnaz Sheikh as Sana Murad and Jibran.

Talking of his ingenuity, who could forget his resplendent acting in Pakistani television drama, 'Sarwar Shaheed, Nishan-e-Haider. Saleem Nasir played the title role of Captain Sarwar Shaheed.

An artist of uncommon ability and magnetic personality, Salim Nasir was the guest in Anwar Maqsood's renowned stage show, 'Silver Jubilee,’ in 1983. For Salim Nasir, it was not just about working hard. He had to make the public see him in a new way.

Along the way, he picked one success after another. Hence, his road to stardom was replete with success. His ultimate excellence was a product of total commitment and perseverance over the long-term.

Pakistan's fascination with Salim Nasir is boundless. With his national fame at an all-time peak, he published his own entertainment magazine, 'Jalwa'.

Once discussing his splendid artistry, Salim Nasir opined that he did justice to every role that was offered to him. Super-performer of 'Aakhri Chatan,’ Salim Nasir was super smartly dubbed as Sultan Jalal uddin Khwarzim Shah in one of Pakistan television's greatest historical drama serial.

Are we to marvel at the director's uncanny ability to direct 'Aakhri Chatan' or applaud the brilliance of Salim Nasir?

To recap the story, heroic Jalal desperately endeavours to unite the Muslims to crush the hoard of the barbarians, led by Genghis Khan. In fact, Jalal was the last hope of the then Islamic world to defeat the tartars.

Jalal taught his brave soldiers that hope dies last. Hope does not trickle down. Hope springs up.

The heart broken lyrics in the last episode of 'Aakhri Chatan' are worth listening to. Too bad, none of the Muslim rulers came to the rescue of Jalal. In the final moments, Jalal was left alone with a handful of brave soldiers to embrace martyrdom.

Poetry was undoubtedly integral to the success of the mega hit drama serial, 'Aakhri Chatan'. It was this intrinsic poetic content in Mujeeb Alam's vocalising that elevated the background song to a near art form.

The promise of this drama serial-the reason it excites us so much-is that it allows for both micro and macro stories: the intimate dynamics of history.

Writer, Saleem Ahmed, director, Qasim Jalali, cast included Salim Nasir- Zahoor Ahmed- Talat Iqbal- Shaista Qaiser- Anwar Iqbal. We feel Salim Nasir's dialogues in 'Aakhri Chatan' have a special resonance today.

Between 1976 and 1989, Salim Nasir's output could only be described as prodigious. In terms of emotion and prowess, there is no equal to the talents of Salim Nasir.

Pakistani television icon, Salim Nasir, played the character of a cruel brother, in the television drama, 'Jangloos' in 1989, which happened to be his last television play as well.

In Captain Sarwar Shaheed, Saleem Nasir said, “Need to go up to the mountains and that God and His messenger ordered us to straighten out all our accounts before we step out on the journey.”

In Aangan terha, Saleem Nasir said, we all have to leave but he will go soon.

In Aakhri Chatan, Saleem Nasir wanted his soldiers to pray for him lest God does not deny him a respectable death.

In Anwar Maqsood’s stage show, Silver Jubilee, in 1983, Saleem Nasir said everything is going to be good the following year. Anwar Maqsood asked him to clarify. In response to this, Saleem Nasir looked up at the ceiling. Presumably, he meant to say everything will be great, up on the sky.

That said, he suffered heart attack on September 24, 1989, and was receiving medical treatment. On October 19, 1989, Salim Nasir experienced signs of extreme heart congestion around noon.

He was rushed to hospital but he expired before any procedure could be performed on him.

He was laid to rest in DHA graveyard.

May God show Saleem Nasir his place in paradise. Aameen.

He was honoured with Pakistan's highest achievement award in the realm of acting, ‘The President's Pride of Performance Award'. Bestowed to his family after his demise.

He was 44 years of age. He is survived by his wife Ambreen, two daughters, the youngest daughter, Beenish and son Nauman. A grand era had ended.

I thought as I stared with disbelieve at the television telecast the news of his death in 1989.

30 years have not diminished the enormous impact of Salim Nasir. He had developed a reputation that preceded him.

After his death, the innumerable admirers remember him for his single-minded devotion to make Pakistani television the best.

The dream that was is shattered I was time that passed

Jo khawab tha bikhar gaya mein waqt tha guzar gaya

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.