KARACHI: One of the most respected and famous comedians of Pakistan’s film industry, Safeerullah Siddiqui, popularly known as Lehri, died here on Thursday morning after fighting a long battle with ill health and old age.
His funeral prayers were offered at Baitul Mukarram Masjid, Gulshan-e-Iqbal and he was laid to rest at Yaseemabad graveyard.
Scores of people including his fans, film and television artists, politicians and mediamen attended the funeral prayers of the legendary comedian who earned a name for himself with his exceptional performance and outstanding comic characters he played in dozens of films in a career spread over three decades.
Sharing his moments with Lehri, comedian Omar Sharif said that he grew up on Lehri’s film work and was inspired by the dignified attitude and remarkable performance of the legendary comic. “The first film I watched was Aag ka Darya in which Lehri played a superb role,” Sharif said, adding that Lehri was an intelligent man who, before going for the actual performance, would go through the script to understand the situation.
Another stage actor, Shakeel Siddiqui, lamented the indifference of Pakistan’s film industry which failed to offer its senior actors any roles in their old age. “When a artist dies we hold condolence references and observe their anniversaries but we don’t take care of them while they are alive,” he said, adding that, “It would have been much better if we had arranged a programme in Lehri’s life to pay tribute to him for his work and services to the cinema industry.”
Senior TV actor Qazi Wajid said that it was a great loss for the community of the artists and actors. “We can no more produce legends like Lehri and Mehdi Hassan.” He said that Lehri was not only a great actor but also a gentleman to core in his day-to-day conduct and behaviour.
Mohammad Ifrahim said a chapter of ‘well-mannered comedy’ has come to an end with the death of Lehri. “I have no words to express my grief at Lehri Sahib’s death. I believe that in Asia there were only two legendary comedians, one Yaqoob of India and the other one, Lehri.”
Those who attended Lehri’s funeral included actors Anwar Iqbal, Ayaz, Saleem Afridi, writer Anwar Maqsood, singers Asif Mehdi, Mohammad Ibrahim besides Rauf Siddiqui, Sohail Abidi and Shaukat Tareen.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2012.