SYED JAFAR ASKARI and ARSHAD BHATTI - KARACHI/LAHORE – Great Pakistani comedian Safirullah Siddiqui, widely known as Lehri who made millions of people laugh, passed away after a protracted illness on Thursday morning at a private hospital in Karachi.
According to his family members, he was on ventilator for the last many days after his condition worsened. His funeral prayer was offered at the Baitul Mukarram Mosque near Civic Centre and laid to rest at the Azizabad graveyard.
People from every walk of life attended the funeral prayer of the great artist who spent his life to make people laugh. A large segment of showbiz was also there to say goodbye to the legendary comedian, while politicians, ministers and citizens also attended the funeral.
Lehri was born on January 2, 1929. He started his film career in 1950s.
He was one of the country’s greatest comedians who made his name in Urdu films. His first film ‘Anokhi’ was released in 1956, while his last production was Dhanak (1986).
Lehri won the Nigar Award as best comedian for around a dozen films including ‘Paigham’ (1964), ‘Kaneez’ (1965), ‘Mein Wo Nahi’ (1967), ‘Saiqa’ (1968), ‘Nai Laila Naya Majnu’ (1969), ‘Anjuman’ (1970), ‘Dil Lagi’ (1972), ‘Aaj Aur Kal’ (1976), ‘Naya Andaaz’ (1979), ‘Saima’ (1985) and ‘Beewe Ho Tu Aisee’ (1986).
The vast majority of Lehri’s films have been in Urdu, though he did perform in a few Punjabi productions.
Slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto, during her tenure as prime minister, provided him with a monthly stipend of Rs 2,500, which he continued to receive till now, though there has been no increase in the amount.
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf expressed deep sorrow and grief over the demise of the renowned comedian. In a message to the bereaved family, he termed Lehri’s death an irreparable loss.
Lehri, who came from India after partition, worked as labour to earn bread and butter. The witty artist also worked as steno typist. In 1955, he has been given an opportunity to act in a film ‘Anokhi’.
He worked in over 225 films during his 30-year film career. He became famous comedian in no time due to his different style of dialogue delivery.
Comedian Shakeel Siddique said Lehri was a beacon light, who had inspired almost all of them, including him. “I also started my showbiz career after getting inspired by Lehri.”
Rambo (Afzal Khan) said, “He had a unique style of comedy which could not be copied. He had inspired a generation. We also learn by watching his movies,” Rambo said.
Renowned stage comedian Iftikhar Thakar said he was beyond the boundaries of languages as he created fun by his body language.
Actress and film Director Sangeeta Begum, Syed Noor, Nasir Adeeb and others have also expressed her sorrow over the demise of great comedian.