Zia Mohyeddin is a prominent name in the cultural landscape of Pakistan. He was an actor, director, producer, and writer. He contributed significantly to the entertainment industry of Pakistan.

His work spans theatre, television, and film. He has also been influential in cultural diplomacy, representing Pakistan on different international venues.

Artistic journey begins In Hollywood

Zia Mohyeddin, born in Faisalabad in 1933, began his career in the theatre scene in London in the 1950s. He eventually made his way to New York City, where he became a Broadway mainstay, sharing the stage with Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, and Elizabeth Taylor.

In the 1960s, he returned to Pakistan and joined the Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) as an actor, launching his artistic career. He rose to prominence swiftly for his performances and linguistic emotions in Pakistan.

Over his career, Mohyeddin produced and directed several avant-garde TV dramas and documentaries. These initiatives addressed various socioeconomic issues while paying tribute to Pakistan’s rich literary heritage.

His storytelling was very renowned worldwide. Zia started a struggle to make the Pakistan Performing Arts Academy (PNCA) in Karachi, which later became a center for theatrical enthusiasts.

He was instrumental in establishing PNCA to promote and preserve Pakistan’s performing arts in the 1970s.

Zia's Life Journey From Hollywood To NAPA
Zia’s Life Journey From Hollywood To NAPA

By the middle of the 1970s, Zia had immigrated to the UK due to shifting political conditions in Pakistan, where he continued to work in Hollywood movies and on British television.

When he returned to the country in the 1990s, he revived his legendary program, “Zia Mohyeddin Show,” under a new title.

For over 35 years, the city of Lahore hosted a night on television called “Eik Sham Zia Mohyeddin Ke Sath,” in which Zia Mohyeddin recited Urdu prose and poetry.

He introduced my generation to legends such as Ghalib, Faiz, Ibn-e-Insha, Patras Bokhari, Noon Meem Rashid, and Shaukat Thanvi.

In the late 1990s, the telecast of Shoaib Mansoor’s “Dhun Humari Tumhare Naam Hoi” marked the first official meeting between Zia and the youth. He played songs from movies, which have been imitated over the years on both sides of the border.

Revival of Urdu by Zia

Zia Mohyeddin’s voice was highly regarded for its depth and richness. He was considered one of the finest Urdu and English voice artists.

Zia Mohyeddin in NAPA
Zia Mohyeddin In NAPA

His interpretations of literary works, such as Ghalib’s and Faiz’s poetry and Shakespeare’s plays are known for their emotional depth and sensitivity. His readings were highly regarded for their clarity and precision.

He conveyed the full range of emotions in the works he read, from joy and humor to sadness and tragedy. A deep understanding and appreciation of the material always marked his readings.

Zia Mohyeddin’s ability to bring out the nuances and subtleties of the works he read. On his death, people believe that his passing silenced Urdu.

Appreciation of Languages

Zia Mohyeddin’s work has profoundly impacted the understanding of languages and art in Pakistan and worldwide. He has contributed to closing the gap between various cultures and nations via his work as an actor, director, and producer.

He has also raised awareness of the rich literary heritage of Pakistan. His performances & shows served to foster more comprehensive respect for the various linguistic & ethnic traditions of the nation while showcasing the beauty of Urdu, Persian, & other regional languages.

Zia Mohyeddin’s work has been crucial in cultivating a broader appreciation for language and art and establishing links between Pakistan and the rest of the globe.

Love for His Native Language

Zia Mohyeddin was a person who paid close attention to details and took great care to make sure everything was perfect. He was cautious about the spelling of his name, preferring “Mohyeddin” rather than any other alternative.

Until his death, he always referred to his hometown of Lyallpur rather than Faisalabad. This attention to detail and reverence for tradition was a defining feature of Zia Mohyeddin’s personality.

Contribution to Pakistan’s Performing Arts

The theatre in Pakistan has significantly benefited from Zia Mohyeddin. He spent his entire life working to develop Pakistan’s performing arts.

Mohyeddin established the National Academy of the Performing Arts (NAPA). He started the National Theatre of Pakistan, which has grown to represent Pakistan’s theatre.

NAPA organized various international and national festivals and cultural events to promote Pakistan’s music, dance, and other creative forms under his supervision.

Zia doing in Press Conference in NAPAZia doing in Press Conference in NAPA

Shakespeare’s classics, including Othello, Macbeth, Romeo Juliet, and The Tempest, are among his many famous plays as a director and actor.

He also wrote plays, including a well-known adaption of Moliere’s The Miser, which is so successful that it is still performed today in NAPA. His excellent acting abilities and vocal capabilities for bringing complicated characters to life on stage.

Zia Mohyeddin has experience in both television and film in addition to theatre. He has been in several well-known dramas and movies, notably Zinda Laash, an iconic film.

Zia Mohyeddin – Cultural Diplomat of Pakistan

Pakistan’s Cultural diplomacy is indebted to Mohyeddin. He has represented Pakistan on various international stages, including the United Nations and the UNESCO World Heritage Conference.

As the Chairman of NAPA, Zia made the most noteworthy contributions to cultural diplomacy. He has spread Pakistan’s culture worldwide through his theatre work and his words on Pakistan’s art and civilization.

Zia reviewing rehearsal in NAPA Theatre
Zia reviewing rehearsal in NAPA Theatre

Zia Mohyeddin’s impact on Pakistan’s culture was felt well beyond the country’s borders. His performing art revolutionary theater work was very effective & immensely impacting. He successfully conveyed messages through peaceful entertainment.

He was a prominent player in diplomacy. He was an active advocate for cross-cultural exchanges. Through his vision, he utilized his platform to build bridges between Pakistan and other countries.

NAPA crossed the border with its play “Shakuntala” to participate in a festival called “The Bharat Rang Mahotsav (BRM)” in 2011.

Shakuntala reportedly received a great response from The Indian press, with The Delhi Mail reviewing the play under the headline, “Shakuntala comes home via Pakistan.”

As the pioneer of Pakistan’s performing arts, Mohyeddin always strived to give Pakistan’s artists a chance to exhibit their work internationally. He invited foreign performers to Pakistan to perform for the country’s audiences.

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Zia’s efforts have created possibilities for cultural interaction. He facilitated individuals from various nations to learn and benefit from one another.

He claimed that talent would break down boundaries and create understanding between people of different cultures.

In addition to his contributions to the performing arts, Zia Mohyeddin served as Pakistan’s intellectual representative abroad, fostering ties between his country and others.

Mohyeddin assisted in dispelling stereotypes and creating a more diverse understanding of Pakistan’s society through his work in the United Kingdom, the United States, and other nations.

A Cultural Ambassador to France

Zia Mohyeddin was a cultural symbol for International Cultural Diplomacy. Mohyeddin’s cultural diplomacy efforts extend far beyond the PNCA and NAPA.

He tirelessly traveled the world as a representative of Pakistan’s culture, showcasing the depth and breadth of Pakistan’s arts.

Zia in NAPA Festival
Zia in NAPA Festival

A greater understanding of languages and art has resulted from Mohyeddin’s work forged links between Pakistan and other nations.

In 2005, when Mohyeddin was chosen as Pakistan’s Cultural Ambassador to France, he made the most remarkable assistance to cultural diplomacy.

Mohyeddin organized many high-profile cultural events that displayed the best of Pakistan’s arts and civilization during his tenure to enhance links between Pakistan and France on an artistic level.

His work contributed to a better understanding of Pakistan in France and tremendous respect for Pakistan’s culture worldwide.

He received many accolades, including the Sitara-i-Imtiaz and the Pride of Performance awards. He also received the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, one of Pakistan’s highest civilian honors, in 2013 in appreciation of his devotion to the arts.

Mohyeddin worked tirelessly to highlight Pakistan’s rich literary legacy through his work. His international advocacy of Pakistan’s culture and civilization has shaped Pakistan’s intellectual arena.

He has helped raise familiarity with Pakistan’s society on a global scale. His lifelong commitment to supporting Pakistan’s culture and the performing arts has inspired Pakistan’s artists and cultural ambassadors today.

Zia Mohyeddin’s legacy will continue to impact future generations of Pakistan’s artists and cultural diplomats.


*The views presented by the author do not reflect the position of The Diplomatic Insight. Nor does The Diplomatic Insight bear any responsibility for the accuracy of the information cited.