LAHORE: It takes special abilities to make people laugh, but Munna Lahori popular for his role as ‘Zakoota’ in children’s comedy play ‘Ainak Wala Jin’ did it effortlessly. He was considered as an epitome of multi-talented personality, and his noticeable work on television screen brought him laurels.

The actor passed away on Friday evening at the age of 68.  Munna Lahori was taken to Mayo Hospital, after paralysis; where he took his last breath. The funeral of the veteran actor will take place on Sunday at 2pm at his residence in Rachna town near Shahdara.

Mujhe kam batao, mae kia karoon, mae kisko khaaon was the dialogue that once became Matloob ur Rehman’s (Munna Lahori) claim to fame.

Munna Lahori performed in almost 3,500 stage and TV plays, not only in Pakistan but also in the US, Canada, Norway and Belgium. After 1993, he wasn’t offered any role in any drama serial which made him jobless. His source of earning was school plays. He used to perform in private schools.

Talking to this scribe, Haseeb Pasha who used to play the role of (Hamoom Jadugar) in ‘Ainak Wala Jin’ said that Munna Lahori was a warm and affectionate person who never had any expectation and always welcomed everyone whole heartedly. “His unique mannerisms and the eccentricity of his character became quite popular with the kids. He was not only witty but was extremely camera friendly which made his performances that much more life-like. Today, if anyone recognizes me in Pakistan is because of Munna Lahori,” he said.

Shehzad Qaiser who performed as Nastoor in ‘Ainak Wala Jin’ that he was still in shock as one of his dearest friends had passed away. “He was kind heart person who loved everyone and lived a simple life. It is really sad that our artistes are not even paid for their basic facilities. The government should seriously think about it. Our neighbouring country’s government considers artiste as an asset. It is a tragedy that artistes in Pakistan are not given due respect,” he said.

Lahore Arts Council, Executive Director, Atta Muhammad Khan said, “Zakoota Jin made us laugh with his antics when we were kids. We used to organise plays and invite him at Alhamra. He wasn’t able to perform but his presence was an honour for us,” he said.  

Director of the play, Hafeez Tahir said that when Matloob-ur-Rehman joined television industry he was an unofficial assistant. After joining PTV he changed his name from Matloob-ur-Rehman to Munna Lahori.

“He used to perform small roles at that time and approached artistes for work. When ‘Ainak Wala Jin’ was broadcast after few episodes we required a character of ‘Zakoota Jin’. At that time the first person who came in my mind was Munna Lahori but writer Abdul Hameed refused to cast him. I insisted and gave Munna Lahori the role. After second episode of the play the role became viral and he became a superstar. ‘Ainak Wala Jin’ in a short span of time became a household name and it was considered as the best play of that era. In Pakistan the government doesn’t promote artistes. The race is to earn more and more money,” Tahir said.