Mastana departs


LAHORE – Long time TV and stage actor Murtaza Hassan alias Mastana died on Monday, after a difficult three-week fight against Hepatitis C in Bahawalpur’s Victoria Hospital. His funeral prayer was offered at Noor Shah Bukhari graveyard in Bahawalpur after the Maghrib prayers. Mastana was known for his stage comedy. The famed actor had been part of the entertainment industry for the last 35 years, making people laugh with his performances. He was widely regarded as the king of stage and theatre acting and he will be remembered for years to come.
Mastana had been suffering from Hepatitis C since a long time but he was shifted to the hospital on March 22. His children tried raising funds for their father’s treatment but were unsuccessful. Despite appeals by the family, neither his co-workers nor the government provided financial support for his treatment. As a result, complications turned the disease into a fatal liver cancer. Mastana was born in Bahawalpur and spent his youth in Gujranwala, before becoming a top comedian in famous Lahore theaters.
He has worked in more than 2,000 stage dramas in Lahore. His famous work on stage include, Kotha, Rabba Ishq na Howay and others. His co-stars, across the career, include Khalid Abbas Dar, Babbu Baral, Naseem Vicky, Sohail Ahmed, Tariq Teddy, Iftikhar Thakur, Amanat Chan, Amanaullah and Abid Khan.
He gained national popularity for his role of Uncle Kioon (Uncle why) in a TV serial Shabdeg. The role revolved around a man who kept questioning unfortunate aspects of the society, with a ‘kioon’ (why).
In the recent past, he had also announced his retirement from stage saying that he had decided this because of bad practices in stage dramas accompanied with vulgarity. “It is not our culture,” he had said. “We want to provide family entertainment but now the stage environment has changed completely and I don’t want to be a part of this.” Most of the dramas that Mastana did were in Punjabi. Therefore, he has the largest fan base all over Punjab, but is not limited here. He is well known all over Pakistan.
Mastana’s family told Pakistan Today that they had sought financial assistance and support to get his expensive medical treatment, but hardly anyone helped.
His son Sajid Hassan had earlier told news channels that his father had been getting medical treatment in Victoria Hospital Bahawalpur but that the family could not afford Rs 5000 every day for the treatment. He had also said that his father had spent around 45 years of his life in acting but today he was in such a condition that he had to search for friends and admirers for help. “Being a comedian, my father has always given smiles to people throughout his career but now he is waiting for a favour which can bring some relief and joy to his life,” he said. “Today he has left many crying. Yet no one has come to us and helped us.”
Mastana’s sister, Shaheen, said that in the last few days, people had avoided visiting him in hospital. “Nobody came to help my brother,” she said. “It was the government’s duty to help and provide either money or free medical care to one of the greatest actors. It is because of their irresponsibility and indifference that one of the greatest actors died in such humiliation and disrespect and suffering, when he could have gone on for some more time and could have died a peaceful death.”