Lehri: A comedic legend gone forever
“Kon tujhe yaad kare ga, yahan koi kisi ko yaad nahi karta”
(No one will remember you, because here nobody remembers anyone)
The famous words of Lehri, 0ur ace comedian and brilliant actor, from the famous serial ‘Angaan Terha’. But in contradiction to his words, Lehri is one such legend who can never be forgotten.
Safirullah Siddiqui, which was his real name, was not known to many, but he was famously known and recognised by his filmy name ‘Lehri’. His style of comedy was uniquely his own. He did not need to resort to making funny faces or attacking politicians to make people laugh; it was his straight-faced delivery that would elicit peals of laughter from the audience.
The tragic departure of this comedic marvel left his family and fans weeping in despair.
Lehri passed away on September 13, 2012, at the age of 83, after having suffered through a prolonged illness. Admitted in hospital due to bad chest congestion and water-filled lungs, he was put off the ventilator due to his deteriorating health. His physical condition had been on the decline since 2010 when one of his legs was amputated due to gangrene, but his demeanour never lacked the enthusiasm and his jokes always overshadowed his frail health.
During the last few years of his life, Lehri went through a lot of pain but his fans and the film industry could not stand back and see him suffer. Various funds were set up to support the actor fight for his life morally and financially.
Lehri had been part of the Pakistani film industry for approximately 35 years; his first movie, ‘Anokhi’ having been released in 1956 through his last production ‘Dhanak’ in 1986. He had in Urdu movies and even appeared in many Punjabi productions as well.
With approximately 225 movies to his credit, he learnt early on in his career that depicting himself in serious roles did not suit him and were not acceptable to his fans either. His comic roles, on the other hand, received the highest acclamation and won him 12 Nigar Awards from 1063 all the way through to 1982 for several movies. He is easily recognised as one of the best comedians of his time.
The 70s era would never have been the same without him. They way he created magic through humour and brought a smile on the faces of many, cannot be done by any other. His death has left a void in the Pakistan film industry which can never ever be filled. He was an institution on his own and he was irreplaceable.
He will always be remembered by his fans.
We will miss you, Lehri!
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