ousuf Kamal, known professionally as Shakeel Yousuf, was a Pakistani actor best known for his roles in the PTV drama series Uncle Urfi, as Mehboob Ahmed in PTV’s Aangan Terha and as Taimoor Ahmad in Ankahi.
Born on May 29, 1938, Shakeel has carved a distinct path that has earned him immense respect and admiration. Renowned for his impeccable acting skills, the late star attained prominence with his memorable roles in various television dramas.
Yousuf Kamal was born in Bhopal, India, Shakeel migrated to Pakistan in the early fifties. Fate intervened, when he crossed paths with film director S.M. Yusuf, who recognised his potential, rechristened him Shakeel and offered him a pivotal role in the film Honehar.
Then in the true tradition of success stories, his first film tanked but not before giving birth to Shakeel the star. With his striking looks and undeniable talent, he soon carved a niche for himself in the film industry. He also quickly picked up on the changing cinematic landscape and made the bold decision to transition to television, a move that would redefine his career.
The seventies marked the beginning of Shakeel’s reign on the small screen. It was during this era that he graced our screens with his unforgettable performances in Haseena Moin’s legendary plays. From “Happy Eid Mubarak” to “Shehzori,” Shakeel’s on-screen chemistry with Neelofer Aleem captivated audiences and became the stuff of legend. His portrayal of Uncle Urfi in Moin’s eponymous play solidified his position as a versatile actor capable of embodying diverse characters.
He collaborated with renowned playwright Fatima Surayya Bajia, and breathed life into numerous unforgettable characters in plays like “Ana” and “Uroosa.” His talent knew no bounds; his impeccable acting skills, coupled with a magnetic presence, made him an integral part of some of the most iconic dramas in the history of Pakistani television.
With an excellent command of the English language and a voice that one could never ignore, it comes as no surprise that Shakeel also worked in radio, where he initially showcased his talents as part of a school broadcast programme. However, radio didn’t become his primary platform and he found his true calling in theatre and eventually television.
As a professional actor from the pre-social media generation who believed in letting his work speak for itself, many may not know that Shakeel was quite the trailblazer in his heydays. Not only was he one of the few actors who managed to excel on both the silver screen and television, he also appeared in Pakistan’s first colour TV drama, “Parchaiyan.” He worked on a children’s sci-fi show, “Tick Tick Company” and broke another barrier when he became part of the first serial shot abroad by PTV. When NTM, Pakistan’s first private channel, decided to make a splash with their big budget blockbuster drama “Chand Girhan,” guess who made the cut?
Notably, his work in the popular PTV drama serial Uncle Urfi (1972) captivated audiences and showcased his extraordinary talent. The legendary drama series Aangan Terha (1984), produced by PTV, witnessed Shakeel’s remarkable performance as ‘Mehboob Ahmed,’ further establishing him as a versatile actor of his time.
However, it was Shakeel’s portrayal of Taimoor Ahmad in the critically acclaimed drama Ankahi (1982) that truly displayed his acting prowess. The depth and authenticity he brought to the character left an indelible impression on viewers and solidified his position as a formidable talent in the industry.
In addition to his television endeavors, the renowned actor has made significant contributions to Pakistani cinema. His versatility transcends mediums, as he has appeared in numerous local films, mesmerizing audiences with his diverse range of performances. Furthermore, his international breakthrough came in the form of the biographical English film Jinnah (1998), where he portrayed the role of Pakistan’s first Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, alongside the legendary Christopher Lee. His character in the film garnered immense acclaim and showcased his ability to shine on a global platform.
And so, a long extraordinary acting journey came to an end when Shakeel passed away on Eid day this year, leaving his fans heartbroken yet grateful for the countless moments of joy, laughter and heartfelt emotions that he gifted us throughout his illustrious career. His performances will continue to resonate with audiences, reminding us of his unparalleled talent and his ability to bring characters to life with authenticity and grace.
Many stars took to social media and mourned his passing. Veteran actors Rubina Ashraf and Bushra Ansari were the first actors to confirm the news of Shakeel’s passing and posted tributes for the late actor.