Pakistani puppeteer, cartoonist, author, journalist, scriptwriter, producer, director, and television figure. Born in Sialkot, Punjab, Pakistan, Farooq Qaiser (also spelt Qaisar) attended Punjab University (BA, 1971) and the National College of the Arts in Lahore (1972). In 1971, he started writing and making puppets for the children’s television puppet programme Akka Bakkar (Eeny, Meeny) and studied puppetry at the University of Bucharest, Romania (MA, Graphic Arts, 1975) where his teacher, Professor Molnar, became the visual model for Uncle Sargam, a central comic character in Qaiser’s most famous television puppet series Kaliyan (Political Petals, 1976-1980 and 1989-1990). In 1999, Qaiser studied Mass Communication at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, USA.
Farooq Qaiser’s popular Kaliyan on PTV (Pakistani Television) pleased Pakistani children and adults. Other shows include Putli Tamasha (1984-1986), Sargam Time (1993-1994), Sargam Sargam (1994-1995), Daak Time (1995-1997) Kaliyan Plus (2002-2003) and Khab Sitaray (2004-2005). Kaliyan was revived in 2010 in a weekly show that pokes fun at such topical issues as stalemates between the judiciary and the President or the fake degree scandal of legislators. During a period of martial law, Farooq Qaiser’s “soft” approach to political issues and satire made the show a national craze.
Using Muppet-like puppets, Qaiser created Uncle Sargam, Rolla (his best student), Haigaa (played by Rashid Khan), Sharmeeli (Bushra Ansari) and Maasi Museebatay – characters that became household names throughout the country. Uncle Sargam taught that there were three “b’s” that needed correction: baap, boss aur baadshah (dad, boss, and king), and that dou (justice) was needed in every part of life.
Farooq Qaiser has taught at the tertiary level at Fatima Jinnah Women’s University and the National College of the Arts Theatre programme (2007-2010), both in Rawalpindi. He has earned numerous awards and recognitions, including the President’s Award for Pride of Performance (1992), Life Achievement Award from PTV (2010), and the Pakistan National Council of the Arts Award (2012). In 1997, UNICEF honoured him as “Master Puppeteer” for the 2,500 live performances he has given around the country for UNICEF and the Ministry of Health, Education, and Population, delivering social messages in comic formats.
Farooq Qaiser is also a co-founder and long-time vice president of UNIMA-Pakistan.
- “Farooq Qaiser”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farooq_Qaiser. Accessed 14 April 2015.
- “Jim Henson of Pakistan”. 2010. http://afghanistan.blogs.cnn.com/2010/07/12/the-jim-henson-of-pakistan/. Accessed 27 July 2012.