Ace comedian Lehri in distress
By Peerzada Salman
KARACHI: Wheeled onto the Karachi Press Club premises, ace film actor and comedian Lehri looked physically frail but was mentally agile as he cracked jokes despite his failing health, at a meet-the-press programme of the KPC on Wednesday.
Speaking on the occasion, comedian Farid Khan claimed that he was the biggest Lehri fan and told the mediamen that once in his heyday Lehri visited Karachi and dubbed him (Farid) the city’s only patakha (firecracker). He said people like Lehri and Farid Khan could neither get retired nor tired, but could get retarded.
He said the top-notch senior comedian was a heart-patient, a diabetic (because of which one of his legs had to be amputated) and suffered paralysis, but despite all that he had not lost his trademark wit and humour. (While mentioning this Farid Khan’s who himself underwent treatment for cancer had a lump in his throat).
He said there were only two world class comedians, Charlie Chaplain and Lehri. Referring to the government of Sindh and the governor of the province, he rued why should artistes themselves tell the authorities that they’re in distress?
Taking the podium, Salma Murad suggested there should be an institution to address the problems related to the artiste community where fundraisers could be held once or twice a year.
She said Lehri was the country’s asset and his humour to date was remembered by film-goers. She said her husband (the late Waheed Murad) used to tell her that Lehri would always make the entire film unit in good spirits by cracking jokes. She recalled the great actor’s remarkable performance in the film Arman and requested the government to take measures so that artistes themselves didn’t have to plead their cases.
Finally Safirullah Lehri addressed journalists and started off by thanking the people who had organised the event.
Wasi Qureshi, a journalist, said Safirullah Lehri was a film legend and the characters he played on the silver screen were still remembered by cine-goers. He claimed that famous comedian Moin Akhtar considered Lehri sahib his guru and Umar Sharif was also an admirer. He said Lehri was not feeling well, and though the legendary actor was being helped by the government, it had not proved sufficient. He said a provincial minister (who had addressed the press prior to Lehri’s sahib’s meeting) had promised to give a cheque for Rs50,000 to the ailing comedian. He acknowledged the ‘legend fund’ introduced by the governor of Sindh but requested that it should be further raised for people like Lehri.
Exhibiting his typical wry wit, Lehri said his family recently received a utility bill for Rs36500, to which he remarked: “kisi ka phone number ho ga” (must be someone’s telephone number). He said the KESC’s dengue virus bit in such a way that its pain was felt at the KPC. Friends knew its treatment but its doctor was the chief minister.
He extended his gratitude to all those who thought about him and said since Farid Khan said it made him feel happy to help him (Lehri) out, he wanted all of them to be more happy. He thanked Farid Khan for being the force behind the event.
He said though the KESC had not disconnected electricity supply to his home, he would request it not do so in the future too.The programme, organised by the Pakistan Film and TV Journalists Association, was conducted by Ather Jawed Sufi. The others who spoke on the occasion were: KPC President Imtiaz Faran, Secretary A. H. Khanzada and PFTJA’s Pervaiz Mazhar.