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NAPA Academy: Enduring Legacy of Zia Mohyeddin and Pervez Musharraf


Oct 31, 2009
United States

Veteran Pakistani performing artist Zia Mohyeddin (1931-2023) passed away this week. May his soul rest in peace. Amen. Among the most enduring legacies he has left behind is the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) he helped establish in Karachi in 2005 with the support and funding provided by former President Pervez Musharraf (1943-2023). Zia Mohyeddin not only inspired generations of young Pakistanis aspiring to become performing artists, he also helped build NAPA as an institution where they are formally trained in film, television, dance, theater, music and other performing arts.

Zia Mohyeddin (1931-2023)
Popular Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, a NAPA graduate who was inspired by Mohyeddin, told Al Jazeera the thespian’s death felt like he had lost his own father. “I don’t have enough words to express my words and sorrow at his passing. He helped me at every stage. His life was all about theatre, the all-encompassing passion he had for it. It kept him alive,” Khan said.

National Academy of Performing Arts, Karachi, Pakistan

Zia Mohyeddin was President Emeritus of NAPA at the time of his death. In 2005, he was handpicked by late President Pervez Musharraf to establish and lead a national institution for arts and music. He was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He performed in several Broadway and West End theater productions. He made his West End debut in A Passage to India as Dr. Aziz. His acting credits include roles in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Behold the Pale Horse (1964), Bombay Talkie (1970) and The Jewel in the Crown (1984).

In 2015, President Pervez Musharraf attended NAPA's 10th anniversary celebration of its founding. Zia Mohyeddin thanked Musharraf for founding NAPA and for selecting him to run it, according to a report in Business Recorder newspaper. "To be a part of NAPA's 10th founding anniversary is a very gratifying experience," he said. "I never imagined myself being around long enough to be a part of the celebrations, and see the seed that we planted grow into a healthy plant and about to become a tree."

Urdu monologues delivered by Zia Mohyeddin became the main draw at popular events in Pakistan and around the world. Rekhta.org, a popular web library of Urdu poetry, has hailed them for "taking the art of recitation to unprecedented heights". His performance at the 2011 NED Alumni Association Convention in New Jersey was the the biggest highlight of the event. My friend and fellow NED alumnus Ali Hasan Cemendtaur reported it in the Pakistan Link as follows:

"It doesn't happen often that a thespian keeps redefining himself to remain in demand as he progresses through years. Actors should learn from Zia Mohyeddin how to be successful at such a transformation. Turning 80 in a couple of years, this theater and film actor of yesteryear now uses his deep theatrical voice to recite fine Urdu literature and enthrall crowds. At the NED Convention 2011, Zia Mohyeddin did something new: besides reading masterpieces of known writers, Mohyeddin read a piece he himself authored".

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Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

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