Nida Faraz recapitulates the excellent
career of a veteran actor
Demise of Shakeel – Veteran actor Shakeel was known for his sophisticated and suave manner of the TV screen and had a large fan following. One of the best looking actors of his age he was greatly admired for his poise in a large number of TV dramas he acted in. With his baritone, his manner was not only charming but conveyed a sincerity rarely found in actors. Born Yousuf Kamal in Bhopal in 1938, by 1965, he was working at an ad agency in Karachi and would quench his thirst for creativity by appearing in theatre productions. He was offered to play a role in film Honehar as the younger brother of legendary film hero Waheed Murad and while the film tanked but he sailed along. Sometimes during this phase he was given the name Shakeel that remained his identity till the very end. Though by 1970 Shakeel had plenty of film offers but he was convinced that it was not where he wanted to work and this decision proved fortuitous for television.
It was in the early 70s that Shakeel got noticed with Haseena Moin’s long play Happy Eid Mubarak. It was here that his talents flourished and he soon became a household name. The success of TV drama Shehzori brought Shakeel countrywide fame and his name became a token of success. This was the golden age of PTV and actors like Shakeel were breaking new grounds and one of it was his titular role of Uncle Urfi where he had no qualms about playing a middle-aged person, despite being in his mid-30s at the time. The drama series was a national favourite and after that Shakeel never looked back. By this time he became part of extremely productive TV professionals and his presence in a production was a sure sign of guarantee. His dramas Afshan, Ana and Aroosa became household favourites and were also applauded on the other side of the border. With Aangan Tehra Shakeel reached a high scale of performance and he became a legend in his lifetime.
Shakeel continued to enthrall audiences for over half a century and played a multiplicity of roles that became his forte. His plays were always well received and assumed iconic characters. His realistic portrayal of characters endeared him to the audiences and his popularity never waned. He was given an opportunity to play the role of the first prime minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan in Jamil Dehlvi’s Jinnah in the late 1990s that was widely appreciated. He was also awarded the Presidential Pride of Performance award for his contributions in the field of acting in 1992. Shakeel had a unique record — he was the first actor from films to excel on TV in both serials and long plays, he appeared in the first coloured TV drama Parchaiyan, worked on children’s show sci-fi Tick Tock Company, appeared in the first serial shot abroad by PTV and was the first of many actors who appeared in the blockbuster Chand Girhan the big budgeted serial from Pakistan’s first private channel NTM.
Shakeel started out in radio when he went over as part of the school broadcast programme. Due to his command over English language he did some shows on radio but could not keep up with it. Theatre seemed more appropriate for him but ultimately he settled for TV and it proved to be good omen for the medium. Shakeel carved out a niche for himself in the highly value field of public performance arts and his presence was very valued. He lived a full life and contributed fully to the profession he chose that well-suited his innate talent. The Weekender