Saturday, April 5, 2008

Anwar Solangi: State of the Pakistani Artist

Well-known TV and Radio artiste Anwar Solangi, known popularly as Makno Khan after one of the characters he portrayed in Urdu serial Deewarain, passed away yesterday in Civil Hospital Karachi after a prolonged illness at the age of 64. Despite having worked in over 500 TV plays, 1200 radio programs and over a dozen Sindhi films, Anwar Solangi enjoyed neither the fame nor fortune that actors with such a portfolio are able to achieve in other countries. On the contrary, Solangi lived almost hand to mouth in a rented house, supported by small payments made to him whenever he could find some work.

Being very bitter about the system and the lack of acknowledgement for artists in the country, Solangi once admitted that he would never have ventured into acting had he known beforehand how artists are treated in Pakistan. In an interview in 2002 he had said, ” I run from pillar to post each month when my telephone connection is terminated for non-payment of bill. With 5000 or so rupees of cash per episode, I have to keep focusing on how to keep my bills cleared and my stomach full. I live from episode to episode for a livelihood in the most basic sense.”

Once, having received an award for best actor of Sindhi dramas, he had said, “An award is the biggest form of appreciation for an actor and all I received with this award was a total of 4500 rupees with 500 deducted as tax. The award is sitting in my drawing room. I can’t eat it. Don’t artistes have a right to a normal life? I have given this field my best. My youth, my energy, my devotion. And what have I received in return? Regrets, bitterness and poverty.”
Solangi’s example speaks volumes of the state of performing arts and artists in the country. Despite the mushrooming of TV channels in the country, many artists are not able to make ends meet. Some private channels do pay well, however by far the majority of channels, including PTV and especially regional or non-Urdu language channels simply are either unwilling or unable to compensate actors in line with their talent, time and efforts. Most artists therefore either act as a part-time profession or as a hobby - it is becoming rarer and rarer to find full-time actors.

If cricketers can be paid millions of additional rupees and other ’gifts’ for winning matches, surely our actors and artists can also be paid in line with their talents. It is high time that the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism, under whose jurisdiction this falls, revisits and regulates the dismal wage, employment and royalties structure of TV and Radio actors in Pakistan.

Anwar Solangi will probably not be the last artist to die in poverty and bitterness, but may his death mark the beginning of change.
Cross-posted at chawkandi.wordpress


Abdulrahman Rafiq said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Iqbal said...

Sorry to read about this SAD story However living near Hollywood, I have known MANY artists who have struggled & vast majority are NOT able to make it Unfortunately almost all over the world many profs including teaching are NOT given their due worth Cricket has changed just of late only & that is because of TV revenue etc.
Ekbal Qidwai
Los Angeles

Aruna Hussain said...

Thanks. You would however also agree that in Hollywood, an actor who works in as many dramas and films as Solangi, and plays central or key roles/characters, would not by any standard be called one who 'didn't make it'. Furthermore, in the US there is also a concept of social security and royalties. Keeping these in view, in my opinion the situation of artists in Pakistan is by far worse. The state can do more to support and nurture our local talents like him.

Iqbal said...

Aruna, I don't disagree with you, except to make some additional points that standard of living in Pakistan is too low. Even Mehdi Hassan was not getting help until he went public. I think Lehri Film actor went through a hard time We really don't have a social network system and even if we did how much would be lost through corruption!? I am involved in distribution of Federal US Block grants by my city and the agencies like city, county take the max allowed for overhead like 24% right off the top even when they would spend say 10%!
Corruption also hits the artists in Pak as there are almost NO royalties available. It was interesting that you can buy ANY video be it Hollwood or Bollywood but they would NOT sell a copy of Khuda Ki basti as they are enforcing copyright on it in Karachi @ least in Dec!

Ask^Me said...

PTV lost its status due to not supporting the essence of PTV, Solangi was the best actor who really an actor.
similarly many actors & actresses like solangi due to ignorance cant continue their work, its good PTV should encourage new peoples bt never forget it ROOTS Actors, becoz of which PTV drama recognized in the world as DRAMA !
Muhamad ALi, Subhani Ba younas, hamid wine etc., which we forget n they rest in peace in soil.

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