Zia Mohyeddin: Epitome of success
By Anis Shakur
In reality, when you have devoted your life, you are no longer the equal
of other men, or rather, other men are no longer your equals. And whosoever has taken this resolution feels his strength and
The above statement holds true to the 'Lawrence of Arabia' famed actor, Zia Mohyeddin.
Super performer, Zia Mohyeddin, was born on June 20, 1933, in Faisalabad, former Lyallpur, Pakistan. He
demonstrated an unusual aptitude for acting as a child.
He migrated to England at a very young age and joined the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London. He stayed
at the Royal Academy for four years, from 1953 to 1956. Events unfolded rapidly as he developed as an artist.
A film career beckoned, and he held memorable roles in numerous movies.
Zia played vital roles in 'Long day's journey into night', 1957, and in 'Julius Caesar', 1957, that put
him on the road to fame.
The masterpieces began to flow, as they would over several decades.
Though Zia has spent most of his adult life outside Pakistan, still he has left an indelible stamp on our
culture and on our society.
In the year 1960, Zia worked in 'A passage to India' and earned encomiums from his fans everywhere.
In times due course, Zia was cast in interesting roles, most memorably in the American television series,
'Danger man.' He played 'Wasing' in episode 'The dead man walks', January 13, 1961.
Through his artistry, Zia has inscribed in viewers mind a sense of humanity that is exclusively its own.
Additionally, Zia may have understood better then most of us that great achievement always takes a toll.
The television series 'Sir Francis Drake' had him cast in the role of the 'King Philip of Spain', in episode
'Visit to Spain', January 7, 1962.
Zia has the strength, gumption and independence to show his artistic talents in various ways. The 1962 epic,
'Lawrence of Arabia', is a case in point, in which Zia was dubbed as 'Tafas'. It was a role and a performance that took Zia
a few feet higher on the cliff climb.
Zia successfully managed to project sadness and the insecurity, if that was part of his personal or professional
Zia played the part of 'Dr. Ahmed Rashid', in the television series, 'The nurses', in episode 'A strange
and distant place', November 15, 1962.
Reverting to Zia's acting, it has been dramatic, uplifting and, at times, sentimental. Over and above, he
can speak the tragic sense of the story, if it is part of his role.
His professional aspirations took him to even greater heights in the television series, 'Armstrong Circle
Theater', in episodes'The journey of Poh Lin, January 16, 1963, and August 14, 1963, respectively.
In some ways, Zia's many roles are just as deluded and committed to his art, as his myriad of adorers would
have expected them to be.
Moreover, most of his characters were written with the brilliance and detail that was synonymous with Zia.
Below are two more success stories of Zia:
Zia played the supporting role, 'Luis, guide of Paco', in the film 'Behold a pale horse', in 1964.
Zia was dubbed as Dr. Hamavid de Silva' in the television series, 'The hidden truth', 1964.
Zia has an extraordinary range. His intensity and his control over it are highly laudable. Most definitely,
he is a person who has a very high degree of credibility. Below are three examples of his versatile acting:
Zia played 'Khan' in episode 'Such men are dangerous', in 'Danger man', January 12, 1965.
Zia played 'Sinclair Jones', in episode, 'The mercenaries', in 'Danger man', November 4, 1965.
Zia's innumerable adorers of the time had marveled at his acting strength.
Ironically, though, most of the people from the 'nostalgic era' are now dead. Below are three examples of
Zia appeared in the television series, 'Sammy going south'...The Syrian, in the episode, 'a boy ten feet
tall,' 1965, U.S.A.
Zia worked in the play of the month, 'The Joel brand story, 1965, U.K. television.
Zia was cast in the play of the month, 'Passage to India', 1965, U.K. television.
Talking of teamwork, Zia found a perfect unanimity of tone with his coworkers.
Reverting to his movies, some of his hugely successful films touched on the themes of love, in one way or
another. Below are four examples of that era:
Zia was cast as 'Zobair Pasha' in a supporting role, in the film 'Khartoum', 1966.
Zia appeared as 'Prince Ali' in the episode 'Honey for the Prince' in the American television series, 'The
Avengers', March 26, 1966.
Zia was dubbed as 'King Fedra' in the film 'Deadlier than the male', 1966.
Encouraged by his teammates in the earlier days, Zia soon developed confidence in his intellect. He rose
to fame through character roles. Additionally, he has the ability to inflame almost any audience. Below are three examples:
Zia appeared as 'Farge' in the film 'They came from beyond space', 1967.
Zia played 'Sheikh Abdul' in the episode 'The Basardi affair' in the film 'Adam Adamant lives'! January
Zia was cast as 'Noori' in the film 'The sailor from Gibraltar' 1967.
Given the mood of his times, Zia could hardly ignore those movies. With the passage of time, his acting
kept improving and his craftsmanship seemed effortless. That was a glorious moment in history, harbinger of good movies to
come like the three below:
Zia played 'Rafael' in the episode 'Night flight to Andorra' in 'Man in a suitcase', April 17, 1968.
Zia played 'Saeed Khan' in the episode, 'Wax fruit' in 'Champion house', June 13, 1968.
Zia played 'Dr. Aly Narayana' in 'Work is a 4- letter word' 1968.
His self-created style made his slightest gestures, onstage or off indelible. As for his acting, Zia embodied
it, propagated it, and imposed a clear discipline and aesthetic in his own innovative art. Below are three examples:
Zia was cast as 'Prengo' in the episode 'Shadow of the panther' in 'the champion', January 15, 1969.
Zia played 'Major Savvas Stylianos' in the episode 'some you win some you lose', in 'Had Leigh', October
Zia played 'Inspector Ghote' in the episode 'Hunt the peacock' in 'Detective' October 12, 1969.
This noted character actor paid a visit to his native Pakistan in the mid 1960s. He presented 'Zia Mohyeddin
Show' which was telecast from the Pakistani television. Hence, Zia is the voice of Pakistan's first talk-show host.
Also, Zia's 'Theka' and 'Shakira ki Maan ye boli, apni larki kay leye bur chaheye' in his singing voice,
is still fresh in the minds of millions of Pakistanis.
In 1970, Zia became the actor - producer - director - of the first and the last Urdu film of his movie career,
'Mujrim kaun', which was released in Pakistan. The popular song, 'Hoantoan pay tabassum nazar sehmi, sehmi, ho gaye ray mujhay
kyon ghalat fehmi' was rendered by Ahmed Rushdi and pictured on Zia.
Soon Zia went back to England and made his presence felt in more English movies and television programs.
He played 'Hari' in the 'Bombay talkie' 1970.
Zia accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan by the Pakistani government in the late 1960s. He is the founder
- cum - director of the Pakistan international airlines Arts And Dance Academy. This Academy presented classical, folk dances
Moreover, Zia began a liaison with the highly talented dancer, Naheed Siddiqui, and offered her roles in
the P.I.A. Arts Academy, which she gladly accepted.
In 1973, at forty years of age, Zia married Naheed Siddiqui.
However, due to conflict of interest with the then Pakistani government, Zia returned to England and resumed
his movie career.
After a while, Naheed also migrated to England to reunite with Zia.
Zia appeared in the television series 'Gangsters' 1975, in which he was cast as 'Iqbal Khan.'
Zia played 'Djamil' in the episode 'Land of no mercy' in 'Ashanti', 1979.
Zia played 'Ibrahim' in the television program 'Staying on' 1979.
Zia is an unobtrusively brilliant man. The hallmark of his acting is fierce concentration and intensity.
The three examples below are perhaps a testament to his exceptional acting prowess:
Zia played 'Tajvir' in the episode 'Diamonds are a girl's worst enemy' in 'Minder', November 6, 1980.
Zia played 'Marvan Shaheen' in the television program 'Death of a princess' 1980.
Zia played 'Adnan Rashid' in the episode 'A touch of eastern promise' in 'Bergerac' January 7, 1984.
Zia is well known for his artistic creativity. He is replete with confidence and exuberance as well. Over
and above, he is the combination of acting, directing and producing that is so rare in the entertainment industry. He also
made his mark in the realm of writing and broadcasting.
Zia played 'Mohammed Ali Mak Kasim' in the mini television series 'The jewel in the crown' 1984.
Zia played 'Timur Hussein' in the television series 'King of the ghetto' 1986.
Zia appeared as 'Father Emmanuel' in the television play 'We are the children' 1987.
The script of his films was exemplary both for their stylistic elegance and for the clarity of their intellectual
distinction. Artistic talents apart, confidence in one's judgment, Zia realized early on, is what matters most. Below are
three more examples of Zia's versatility:
Zia played 'Shehzada' in 'Immaculate conception' 1992.
Zia was dubbed as a 'Dejected detective' in the television play 'Gummed labels' 1992.
Zia appeared as 'Hashim' in the television play 'Doomsday gun' 1994.
Besides working for the films and the television, Zia also performed in numerous stage plays both in London
and in New York. Below are Zia's four stage accomplishments:
Zia played 'Mosca' in 'Valpone.'
Zia played 'Shylock' in 'The merchant of Venice.'
Zia appeared in the 'Guide.'
Zia worked in 'Homer's Odyssey.'
Zia is one of the most devoted admirers of Poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Zia's recitation of the best of the best
Pakistani poems recaptures a glorious age of poetry.
Essentially, his recitation has his trademark wit and rhyme.
Likewise, his recitation glows with a special liveliness that is characteristically his own. Apparently,
Zia is a fabulous speaker. There is such vitality and imagery in his persona. Maybe that is the reason why his accomplishments
leapt over so many national boundaries and still retain an atmosphere of long ago.
Most recently, the government of Pakistan invited Zia to set up the National Academy of performing arts,
in Pakistan. Zia has also been appointed as the chairman of the NAPA.
Zia has had such a rich and interesting life. A modest giant bestriding a half-century of excellence. Someone
who has explored so many interests in life. What more would he like to do?
Well, on June 20, 2005, Zia Mohyeddin will celebrate his
72nd birthday, and, perhaps most important, a person content to see himself as still a work in progress.