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Zia Mohyeddin

Zia Mohyeddin (Urdu: ???? ??? ??????; born 20 June 1933) is a Pakistani actor, producer,director and television broadcaster who has appeared in both Pakistani cinema and British cinema throughout his career.

Born Zia Mohyeddin
20 June 1933 (age 83)
Lyallpur, British India (NowFaisalabad, Pakistan)
Nationality  United Kingdom
Occupation actor, producer, director andtelevision broadcaster
Years active 1954-2012
Spouse(s) Azra Mohyeddin
Relatives Alia Mohyeddin (daughter) Ainy Jaffri (niece)
Meher Jaffri (niece) Usman Riaz(nephew)

Early life and career

Zia Mohyeddin was born in Lyallpur, now called Faisalabad, British India (now in Pakistan). He spent his early life in Kasur and Lahore. He was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London from 1953-1956.

After stage roles in Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Julius Caesar, he made his West End debut in A Passage to India in 1960. He made his film debut in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), playing the role of Tafas (the Arab guide who is shot by Omar Sharif for drinking water from the wrong well).

He then made numerous TV and film appearances, and starred as Dr. Aziz in the BBC television adaptation of E. M. Forster’s novel, A Passage to India (Play of the Month, Episode 2; first broadcast 16 Nov., 1965).

 Zia Mohyeddin, age 7 (on the floor, left) with the Central Training College Dramatic Club, Lahore, circa 1940. His father, Khadim Mohyeddin, is seated 2nd from right.

His first wife was Sarwar Zemani with whom he had two sons, Minos Ameer and Risha Ameen.

Return to Pakistan and later career

Mohyeddin returned to Pakistan in the late 1960s. Between 1969 and 1973 he hosted the hugely popular television talk show, “The Zia Mohyeddin Show”, best remembered for Mohyeddin’s rap-style song segment, which he would introduce with his trademark phrase of “zara theka lagaiye” .

He was appointed Director of the PIA Arts Academy in 1973, a role he held until 1977. Around this time, he met and subsequently married the renowned Kathak dancer Nahid Siddiqui. Together they had a son, the percussionist and music producer, Hassan “Moyo” Mohyeddin.

Following differences with the military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq, Mohyeddin returned to the U.K. in the late 1970s. During the 1980s Zia worked in Birmingham,Great Britain, where he produced Central Television’s flagship multicultural programme Here and Now.

He has since traveled the world giving Urdu poetry and prose recitations, and is considered the foremost reader of Urdu literature. In addition, he is also famed for his readings of English letters and literature. In the mid-1990s Mohyeddin married Azra, his third wife, with whom he has a daughter, Alia.

In February 2005 then President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf invited Mohyeddin to form the National Academy of Performing Arts in Karachi, of which he has been President since its inception.

Though now in his 80s, Mohyeddin is still active in the Pakistani media as a speaker and he regularly hosts television programmes for national and private channels. He is also involved in narrating short films and commercials.


  • Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  • Sammy Going South (1963)
  • Behold a Pale Horse (1964)
  • Deadlier Than the Male (1966)
  • Khartoum (1966)
  • The Sailor from Gibraltar (1967)
  • They Came from Beyond Space (1967)
  • Work Is a Four-Letter Word (1968)
  • Bombay Talkie (1970)
  • Mujrim Kaun (1971)
  • Ashanti (1979)
  • The Assam Garden (1985)
  • Immaculate Conception (1992)

Selected TV

  • The Adventures of Sir Francis Drake (7 January 1962 episode “Visit to Spain”).
  • Danger Man (1966)
  • The Avengers (1966)
  • Adam Adamant Lives! (1967)
  • Jackanory (1967)
  • Man in a Suitcase (1968)
  • The Champions (1969)
  • Hadleigh (1969)
  • Detective (12 October 1969 episode Inspector Ghote Hunts the Peacock as Inspector Ghote)
  • Z-Cars (1978)
  • Gangsters (1978)
  • Death of a Princess (1980)
  • Minder (1980)
  • The Jewel in the Crown (1984)
  • Bergerac (1984)
  • Family Pride (1991–92)
  • Dhun Hamari Tumharay Naam Hui (1999)

Awards and recognition

  • Hilal-i-Imtiaz Award, [(Crescent of Excellence) Award] in 2012 by the President of Pakistan

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