Zia Mohyeddin was a British-Pakistani actor, producer, director and television broadcaster who has appeared in both Pakistani and British Cinema has died today on 13th February 2023, leaving behind a legacy of literature behind him. He was 91 years old. A thespian era has come to an end with Zia Moheyeddin.
In Urdu ‘harf-e-aakhir’ (the last word), is something which is considered to be the decisive and final authority on any particular thing or topic. Zia Mohyeddin, whose name starts with Z (the harf-e-aakhir in English language) is a harf-e-aakhir (final authority) in acting, hosting, recitation and direction. There are seldom such personalities, who are equally brilliant on and off the stage, Zia Mohyeddin is one of them.
Zia Mohyeddin was born in Lyallpur in 1931 and spent his early years in a unified Punjab. His father, Khadim Mohyeddin, was a dramatist and a teacher, and he encouraged his son’s interests, which helped him become Pakistan’s most famous orator and actor. Zia graduated from Government College, Lahore (GC) in 1949 and began his career as a radio presenter for Radio Pakistan. After leaving Radio Australia, he joined the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). In 1953, he was admitted to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in London, from which he graduated in 1956. John Gielgud, Anthony Hopkins, Richard Attenborough, Kenneth Branagh, and Tom Hiddleston have all graduated from the RADA.
With the seizure of power by another Zia and the imposition of martial law, the talented Zia left Pakistan and returned to England, where he remained till the mid-90s. Zia Mohyeddin directed Here Today, Here Tomorrow, one of the earliest programs on British TV about the plight of the Asian community in 1979. The film led to the famous weekly show, Central Television’s Here and Now, which Zia presented for quite some time.
He was also a regular performer on radio and television, and his work in these mediums further cemented his place as one of Pakistan’s greatest cultural ambassadors.
Throughout his life, Mohyeddin remained dedicated to the arts, and his legacy will endure as a testament to his talent and passion for the cultural world. He was a true icon of Pakistani culture, and his passing marks the end of an era in the world of entertainment.
In recognition of his contributions to the industry, Mohyeddin was awarded the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, one of the highest civilian honours in the country, in 2012.
Mushtaq Yusufi, Urdu literature’s maestro of humour, wrote about Zia Mohyeddin in a place where he reads the words of a dead writer from a dead person and comes to life. He is the only literary figure whose reading and speaking style has achieved international acclaim. He awakens, wants to read, and we listen.
It is also worth noting that Zia Mohyeddin was influential in the understanding of Urdu literature. ZZia Mohyeddin’s voice is his true personality; with his lovely voice and inspired accent, he has carved himself into a place that no one else has been able to fill. The world has fallen in love with Urdu language.
Zia Mohyeddin was known as the Prince of English and Urdu. He gained fame for the way in which he read the writings of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, a unique poet and philosopher of Urdu language. He was an outstanding artist who has brought numerous facets to art; in addition, he was a high-class eulogist with a unique position in this area.
Dangerman, The Avengers Man, In a Suitcase, Detective, Death of a Princess, The Jewel Pride, In the Crown, and Family are among his English TV dramas. There is no question that he was not only a brilliant artist from head to toe but also a very modest and good human person, for which he is revered across the globe.
With his death, an era of literary marvels has come to an end. It will take a millennium to have someone of his stature to be born again in Pakistan. An era has surely come to an end with Zia Mohyeddin.