When laugh kings leave us crying

While the whole country has been focused on Imran Khan’s Long March and the COAS’ appointment, tragedy has struck the world of comedy. Tariq ‘Teddy’ and Ismail Tara died within five days of each other last week. Tariq Teddy was the ornament of the Lahore stage, while Ismail Tara was that of Karachi’s.

He was probably better known, for he exploded into public view in Fifty Fifty, it must be now about 50 years now. Teddy on the other hand, was a stage comedian par excellence, and did not have such a long career. It is not known, but I’m sure the young Teddy must have been influenced by Tara, whom he must have seen on TV even before he had made it in his native Faisalabad. Of course, Faisalabad was not enough, for he had to come to Lahore, where he made it big.

The passing of these two puts me in mind of a decade ago, when in April 2011, Babbu Bral and Mastana died within five days too, of one another. Tariq had been their junior, but the loss of those two at the saame time shook Lahgore’s theatre to its foundations, for they were two of the premier comedians of the Lahore stage.

Tariq was known as Teddy because he was a small chap, just like a teddy bakra, a breed of small goat. Tariq’s size provided much grist to the mill of scriptwriters, and he turned this apparent disadvantage to comic advantage.

Tariq and Ismail were never paired together, though both were parts of celebrated pairs. Tariq Tewddy had a pairing with Mastana, though that was broken by Mastana’s death. For those who saw them on stage, it was apparently a love-hate relationship, for though both engaged in jugatbaazi (exchange of quips, preferably one-liners) with other comedians to great effect, the jugatbaazi they engaged in with each other was not just wildly funny, but reacherd a new comic level, almost as if theory inspired each other.

But then Ismail Tara too had an incredible pairing on Fifty Fifty, with Maajid Jehangir, when they played a pair of elderly Karachi businessmen.Ismail Tara was 73, which meant a generational difference with Tariq Teddy, who was only 46. Tara died of kidney failure, Tariq of liver. They will both be sorely missed.

Will Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa be sorely missed? He was hardly a comic figure, and had the glowering presence of an army officer. Like his previous two predecessors, he was the son of a soldier. Just as he was going, there was a report about his and his family’s accumulation of assets. PTI people think that is why he replaced Imran, and while he was in office, prevented him from taking action against the Sharifs or Zardari. Is that going to be his new narrative?

But what’s the point of re-electing him if the new COAS will prevent him pursuing the corrupt? And he will, because there’re already stories swirling about shakedowns of leading businessmen when he was Corps Commander Gujranwala.

Meanwhile, there’s turmoil in the Bahasa-speaking world. Malaysia has been through an election, which has had some odd results. First of all, Dr Mahathir Muhammad lost his seat. That’s a bad thing to happen to any 97-year-old, let alone a former PM. Imran should learn from that example, though he must be heartened by the example of Anwar Ibrahim,who has finally become PM at the age of 75. A long, long time ago, he had been brought in by Mahathir to attract the youth vote. Anyhow, he later went to jail for assaulting his driver. However, he has made it. Somebody Imran can learn from.

Of course, Imran is too busy these days to learn stuff. Now that he has got the Long March out of the way, telling people he will dissolve the assemblies and force elections. That sounds like a formula for fresh elections, but it depends on Ch Parvez Elahi agreeing. Will he? Did his mother raise any stupid sons?

 

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