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Farooq Qaiser

Farooq Qaiser, born on October 31, 1945, in Lahore, Pakistan, was a multifaceted artist whose contributions have left an indelible mark on Pakistani culture, as a renowned as a columnist, director, puppeteer, scriptwriter, and voice-over artist. Farooq Qaiser's journey in the world of arts began with an education at the National College of Arts. He further honed his skills by earning a Master's in Graphic Arts from Romania in 1976 and a postgraduate degree in Mass Communication from the University of Southern California, USA, in 1999. These academic pursuits laid the foundation for his artistic endeavours and his commitment to promoting the arts.

Qaiser's talent led him to work on the children's TV program "Akka Bakkar" as a show writer and puppet maker. In 1976, Farooq Qaiser embarked on the journey of creating his very own children's show. This endeavour led to a significant broadcasting opportunity on Pakistani Television (PTV), where he introduced Kaliyan, a program that quickly became a staple on family TV screens nationwide. Kaliyan, which translates to "flower bud," stood out for its remarkable blend of humour and satire, cleverly imparting valuable life lessons to its young viewers. Besides Kaliyan, Putli Tamasha and Sargam Time were Qaiser's most loved TV shows.

A segment in Kaliyan named ‘Science bari ya bhens’ (Is Science Bigger or the Buffalo) cleverly mocked pseudoscience and quackery, advocating for critical thinking and rationality. Uncle Sargam, in his satirical and humorous manner, played a vital role in providing a dissenting voice during General Zia-ul-Haq's dictatorship in the 1980s. His fearless critique on state television was a testament to the power of satire and humour in challenging oppressive regimes.

Farooq Qaiser's talents extended beyond puppetry. He ventured into the world of print as a columnist and cartoonist for the Urdu newspaper, the Daily Nai Baat. Moreover, he dedicated his expertise to education, serving as a teacher at the Fatima Jinnah Women's University in Rawalpindi. Qaiser's commitment to the arts reached international heights when he co-founded the Pakistani branch of the Union Internationale de la Marionnette (UNIMA) and served as its vice president for an extended period.

Uncle Sargam and Maasi Museebatay, will forever be remembered as iconic figures in Pakistan's cultural history. Farooq Qaiser's legacy lives on, as Uncle Sargam continued to make appearances, including hosting a television talk show, Syasi Kaliyan, on Dawn News in 2010. The character also featured in events organized by institutions like the Pakistan National Council of the Arts and NGOs such as Mashal, and a show at the University of Peshawar to educate children about the difference between authentic and pirated books. In 2018, a diorama of Uncle Sargam was inaugurated at the Lok Virsa Museum in Islamabad, paying homage to both the characters and Farooq Qaiser.

In recognition of his remarkable contributions, Farooq Qaiser received the prestigious Presidential Pride of Performance award in 1993. UNICEF also acknowledged his mastery of puppetry, bestowing upon him the title of "Master Puppeteer" in 1997. Furthermore, in 2010, he was honoured with the PTV Lifetime Achievement Award, a testament to his vital role in both educating and entertaining the people of Pakistan through the medium of television. In 1993, he was honoured with the Presidential Pride of Performance award, acknowledging his craft and influence in the world of entertainment.

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