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Industry mourns the passing of Sultana Zafar

  • July 18, 2021

Actor Sultana Zafar was known for her work with PTV in the 90s, a time many consider to be the golden age of Pakistani television. She was a part of hit television shows such asTanhaiyyan, Uroosa and Akhri Chattan. Starring alongside other prominent actors of the time, including Marina Khan and Behroze Sabzwari, Zafar was part of a generation of actors that put Pakistani television on the global map.

Zafar passed away in the United States, where she had been residing for some time now, running a boutique in Dallas. Her death prompted an outpour of grief on social media and otherwise, with many taking to Twitter to remember the actor and her contribution to television. Popular playwright and TV drama writer Asghar Nadeem Sayed, who wrote extensively for PTV in the 90s, told The Express Tribune, “Sultana Zafar painted an accurate portrait of the educated middle-class of Pakistani woman of that time. She performed roles that depicted the true nature of a Pakistani female. She emerged on screen through PTV at a time when the life and culture of Karachi were being highlighted through the arts, especially dramas.”

He continued, “After Partition and the subsequent creation of Pakistan, people from various areas and cultural backgrounds came together in Karachi and these were the exact people who were the central focus of PTV dramas when Sultana Zafar first entered the field of acting. She was a representative of this new kind of female that had settled in Karachi. She accurately portrayed the family values and traditions of the time and was indeed one of the best actors of her era when it comes to serious acting.”

Senior television and film actor Rashad Mahmood reflected on her experience of working with Zafar. “Sultana was among those female actors of PTV who were truly committed to acting. This was a rare quality to have at the time. She was an incredibly well-mannered lady and her style of acting was rather serious. She was a firm believer that the success of any television show depended on the quality of acting,” he stated. “She was well-educated and came from a family rooted in traditional values, both of which became reasons for her success in this field later. I had an opportunity to work with her and can easily say that apart from being a good actor, she was also a highly sophisticated individual and it is truly heartbreaking that she is now no longer among us. Her services to Pakistani television will be remembered forever.” 

Shiba Butt, a senior television and film actor, also remembered Zafar fondly. She commented on the actor’s ability to deliver dialogues with ease and grace. “Other than being a graceful lady, Sultana had a specific style of acting. Her dialogue delivery was especially beautiful. Her voice and the way she spoke captured the essence of the traditional middle-class woman of Pakistan at the time. Watching her always leaves you with a pleasant feeling.” 

After the news of Zafar’s passing broke, the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) took to their official Twitter to express grief on the actor’s passing. The tweet read, “Another gem lost. Veteran actress Sultana Zafar passed away in the USA. She was a big name in the Pakistani drama industry, known for drama serials Tanhaiyyan and Akhri Chattan. May her soul rest in peace.”

Actor Faysal Qureshi also took to Twitter to remember Zafar. He wrote, “Another pioneer, another senior of our industry leaves us in mourning. How can our industry pay back these game changers for future generations? May she rest in peace.”

Journalist Aalia Rasheed tweeted, “Very decent and graceful lady. Will remember Sultana Zafar sahiba for her peculiar accent and for the lovely saris she used to wear. Allah maghfarat karay. Ameen.”

Actor and TV host Sehar Shinwari wrote, “Thank you, Sultana Aapa, or providing us amazing TV serials. Pakistan television industry and this nation will never forget your services. May your soul rest in peace. Ameen.


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