Google Doodle honors late Farooq Qaiser, celebrating the iconic Pakistani puppeteer behind Uncle Sargam

Google has joined Pakistanis in celebrating the 78th birthday of Farooq Qaiser, the beloved Pakistani puppeteer, artist, writer, and voice actor, whose contributions have left an indelible mark on the hearts of children and adults alike.

In his honor, the Google Doodle on November 1, 2023, paid tribute to Farooq Qaiser and his iconic creation, Uncle Sargam and Maasi Museebtay. The puppet character Uncle Sargam remained a household name in Pakistan for more than two decades.

Farooq Qaiser – the iconic puppeteer

Farooq Qaiser was born on November 1 in 1945 in Sialkot, Punjab. His journey into the world of puppetry began during his time at the National College of Arts in Lahore, where he studied Fine Art. It was there that he first delved into the fascinating world of puppetry, igniting a passion that would define his life’s work.

He was educated at the National College of Arts. He also attained a Master’s in Graphic Arts from Romania (1976) and another postgraduate degree in Mass Communication from the University of Southern California, USA, (1999).

Major creations

Qaiser was a puppeteer, columnist, scriptwriter, director, producer, voice-over artist and author.

One of Qaiser’s first major contributions to the world of children’s entertainment was his role as a show writer and puppet maker for the popular children’s television program ‘Akka Bakkar” in 1971.

In 1976, Farooq Qaiser took the leap to create his own children’s show, which would soon captivate the hearts of a nation. “Kaliyan,” which means flower buds in Urdu language, made its way onto Pakistani Television (PTV) screens and quickly became a household favorite. This delightful show seamlessly blended humor and satire to impart valuable life lessons to its young audience.

Along with KaliyanPutli TamashaSargam Time and Daak Time were also Qaiser’s most loved TV shows.

Idea of Uncle Sargam

Uncle Sargam was the most popular character that Qaiser created. This character was introduced in a PTV show for kids “Kaliyan” in 1976. Qaiser started working on this show soon after studying puppetry in Romania, where Qaiser was perhaps so inspired by his teacher in Bucharest, Professor Molnar, that he became the inspiration for the appearance of Uncle Sargam.

Farooq Qaiser with statues of his puppets
Farooq Qaiser with statues of his puppets. (Image Credit: Courtesy of Ali Farooq)

Uncle Sargam charmed and resonated with parents and children alike, fostering a shared experience of entertainment and education.

Using Muppet-like puppets, Qaiser created Uncle Sargam, Maasi Museebatay, Rolla (his best student), Haigaa (played by Rashid Khan), Sharmeeli (Bushra Ansari) – characters that became popular throughout the country.

Farooq Qaiser aka Uncle Sargam passed away in Islamabad in May 2021 due to cardiac arrest at the age of 75. 

Awards and other contributions

Farooq Qaiser’s talents extended beyond the realm of puppetry. He served as a columnist and cartoonist for the Urdu newspaper, Daily Nai Baat, and dedicated his knowledge and expertise to the students of the Fatima Jinnah Women’s University in Rawalpindi as a teacher.

Additionally, he played a pivotal role in the founding of the Pakistani branch of Union Internationale de la Marionnette (UNIMA) and served as its vice president for an extended period.

For his remarkable contributions to Pakistani culture and the world of puppetry, Farooq Qaiser received numerous accolades. In 1993, he was honored with the Presidential Pride of Performance award and was later awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz. In 1997, UNICEF bestowed upon him the title of “Master Puppeteer”. In 2010, he received the prestigious PTV Lifetime Achievement Award, a testament to his enduring impact on Pakistani television.

Happy 78th birthday to Farooq Qaiser! 🎂

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