Belonging to a family of artists, Sikander Sanam, who started his career as Muhammad Sikander, always found inspiration in his late father Syed Abdul Sattar Shoqeen Jetpuri — a well-known Gujrati poet.
The legendary comedian, who was laid to rest on Monday afternoon in Nawabshah, always wanted to be a singer and was known for his voice at school but when he formally entered the Karachi theatre scene, he realised his real strength actually lied in comedy.
Sanam was diagnosed with liver cancer nine weeks ago. He fell ill during a performance on Eid and was taken to Aga Khan Hospital for treatment but he chose to come under the treatment of local healers in his hometown Nawabshah, where he eventually failed to win the battle of his life.
Sikandar Sanam was one of the rare comedians to have come out from the Karachi theatre scene. Despite his colloquial jokes and street smart improvisational skills like many other theatre comedians, what distinguished him from others was his Pakistani remakes of Indian films amongst which Khal Nayak 2, Sholay 2, Munna Bhai MBBS 2 and Tere Naam Part 2 were the most famous. The craze for these remakes increased so much over time that the cable operators played them on public demand, and later on, a number of mainstream entertainment channels also aired them.
Sanam’s portrayal of Salman Khan’s epic character Radhe Mohan is unforgettable. In the film, the good looking and buffed up Salman Khan was replaced by a dark-complexioned and frail-bodied Sanam adding jest to the film and more than that the way he used to fall for his beloved’s cusses in the film might be offensive to a few people but was publicly accepted humour at large.
The likes of Shakeel Siddiqui, were one of the many contemporary comedians who made their career in commercial theatre, which became a point of criticism for many art lovers on one hand but was loved by many on the other hand. Amongst his contemporaries, Sanam travelled around the world and did a number of shows especially in places like Dubai and South Africa. “Muqabla Hai Pyar Ka”, “Eid Manao Sath Sath”, “Mamun Mazak Mat Karo”, “Bakra Larki Aur Qasai” and “Lal Qile Ki Rani Lalu Khet Ka Raja”, were some of the most popular plays by him. These plays were not only performed live in places like Fleet club and Arts Council, but were also released on video cassettes on public demand.
One of his major achievements before his ailment, was participation in the “The Great Indian Laughter Challenge 4” judged by Shatrughan Sinha and Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Sanam’s biggest success is that not only his fans but even his critics are in awe of his comedy. “I might not completely like his work and the surroundings in which he was working, but I can say that he was the only man who has given me immense laugh on many occasions. Thank you Sikander for the good laughs,” says a fan.
Another fan says, “I did not like his work initially but then I developed an understanding of how he represented a lot of people and how such artists bring laughter and happiness to so many. His Ghajini 2 and depiction of Radhe was well done, or Chulbul Pandey for that matter! He did parodies of superstars like Aamir Khan and Salman Khan effortlessly.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2012.