LAHORE: Legendary Pakistani actor Ladla passed away in Lahore at the Mayo Hospital on Thursday. He was found lying on a bench in the Mayo Hospital premises by a passerby who called for medical help right after. According to the hospital officials, he was declared dead upon arrival at the emergency department.
The late actor’s body remained at the morgue for over 16 hours until the Film Producers Association finally managed to contact the actor’s wife and two sons. His burial took place on Friday afternoon.
Originally named Muhammad Farooq, Ladla had been living on the streets of Lahore for the past 10-15 years and people who knew him by face could see him drifting around Laxmi chowk and Gawalmandi.
The late actor gained fame from his onscreen appearances alongside Sultan Rahi. After Maula Jutt, the comedian went on to work on Wehshi Gujjar, Kaalu, Charda Sooraj and Sher-e-Lahore. In fact, Ladla also served as the male lead in Shagird Maula Jutt Da and spent some time working in theatres until his acting career took the turn for the worse. This was when Ladla’s wife and two sons forced him to leave their home.
“He was indeed a legend and one of the most famous comedians during Sultan Rahi’s time. It was because of his popularity that Ladla even got to play a hero in a film,” said producer Chaudhry Ejaz Kamran. “Like many of his contemporaries, Ladla ended up suffering due to the decline of the film industry. But, despite living on the streets, he remained true to his ambition and made sure to visit theatres and studios in search of work”.
Kamran’s sentiments were echoed by film-maker Jarar Rizvi, who called out members of the film industry for not supporting its veterans. “Ladla was a hero and a great actor. I think it is shameful that no one from the film community is willing to accept him after his death, even though he gave his life to the industry.”
According to producer Sohail Khan, Ladla spent close to four decades working as an actor. “It wasn’t just films that Ladla made. He also worked for television and theatre and was always a source of happiness for us. But we did not do anything for him in return,” Khan said. “He was the idol of comedians and besides that, a very good human being, for he preferred to walk the roads looking for work, instead of begging. His death is indeed a great loss for the entertainment industry.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2016.