Lehri: Keep on smiling!
By Anis Shakur
A highly talented teenager by the name of Safeer Ullah, who lived in India, migrated to Karachi, Pakistan,
soon after partition.
Subsequently, he learnt shorthand and pretty soon he was hired as a steno-typist in an office.
During evening rush hours, after getting off from his job, he worked as a salesman, selling hosiery items
at Saddar, Karachi.
This is how he eked out a meager existence.
He possessed immense acting potential, but could not find a way to utilize his skills.
In 1955, Lachhoo Seth, Sheikh Lateef of the then renowned film exchange, decided to make the film 'Anokhi'.
Sheikh Lateef's niece, Sheila Ramani, arrived from India to play the lead actress.
Actor Shad was chosen for the role of hero, because his previous film, 'Naukar', was a box office hit.
Further, Lateef selected Safeer Ullah to fill in the character of a comedian.
The film 'Anokhi' was released on January 21, 1956, and Safeer Ullah was transformed to Lehri.
Lehri embarked upon a fabulous show-biz career, which lasted 38 years, during which he worked diligently
in two hundred and twenty five memorable movies.
Here is an all-too-true assessment of the life and times of Lehri:
Lehri is undoubtedly one of the greatest comedian, the Pakistani cinema ever had:
The films 'Insaan badalta hai', 'Raat kay rahi', Faisala', 'Jokar', 'Kaun kisi ka' and 'Aag'. Are vibrant
examples of his unparalleled acting.
Furthermore, Lehri replaced the late comedian Yaqoob and assured the film-goers that he could be as good
The film 'Tauba', 'Jaisay jaantay nahi', 'Doosri maan', 'Ik nagina', 'Ik musafir ik haseena' and 'Choti
Ammi', indeed proved the above mentioned claim.
Lehri is the master of converting fascinating, sarcastic dialogues into every day conversation in his typical
His fans were in for a treat in the following films:
'Tum milay pyar mila', 'Bahadur', 'Naukar', Baharain phir bhi Aayein gee', 'Afshan' and 'Rim jhim'.
The following movies catapulted Lehri to stratospheric heights as a highly distinguished comedian,
he became the necessity of every Pakistani film maker:
'Choti behan', 'Baalam', 'Jaltay suraj kay neechay', 'Phool meray gulshan ka',' Unjaan' and 'Prince'.
Thinking of his thirty eight glorious years of film acting, Lehri got nostalgic. He said in an interview
that he went to great lengths to be there.
Much revered, Lehri reached his zenith in the movies mentioned herebelow:
'Zameer', 'Aanj', 'Saima', 'Dil lagi', 'Aag ka darya' and 'Hamraz'.
The cine-goers in general and the movie industry in particular, always feted Lehri on his highly refined
and sophisticated performance.
His charismatic presence became all the more conspicuous in the following films:
'Dewar bhabi', 'Daagh', 'Nai laila naya mujnu', 'Bandhun', 'Tehzeeb' and 'Dulhan rani'.
The enthused movie buffs were thrilled to watch the inimitable Lehri on the silver screen .
Super-comedian, Lehri, unleashed all his God-gifted talents in the following pictures:
'Zubeida', 'Zanjeer', 'Naya Andaaz', 'Bahu rani', 'Maum ki gurya' and 'Jalay na kyun perwana.
His innumerable fans thank him most of all for his single-minded devotion to his profession.
Lehri did full justice to each and every movie in his prolonged film career.
The Pakistani public watched his films with an obvious hale and heartiness. The following films offer a
glimpse of his enormous acting potential:
'Garhasti', 'Ruswaaye', 'Badal gaya Insaan', 'Apna paraya', 'Do baaghi' and 'Society'.
One reason, among many, for his apparent, highly successful comedy, were his well-measured dialogues.
In his entire acting career, he never over-acted.
Each sarcastic word from his lips was a gem.
Also, Lehri's continual hard work enabled him to attain his cherished goals more efficiently and expeditiously.
The following films speak for themselves:
'Unhoni', 'Subha ka tara', 'Chahat', 'Nanha farishta', 'Gumrah' and 'Paalki'.
Vying for the top spot in the comedy, Lehri overwhelmed his adorers in every single film in which he worked.
His dialogue deliverance were, indeed, superlative in the following movies:
'Esaar', 'Daman', 'Aanchal', 'Paigham', 'Kaneez' and 'Mein wo nahi'.
He underwent a dramatic rise with every new movie.
In fact, he was the best bet in all of the town, when it came to attracting more public to the theatre.
Lehri's sweet, serene, smile was his hall-mark.
In the vast array of his movies, following were outstanding:
'Saiqa', 'Anjuman' and 'Aaj aur kal'.
Lehri maintained his superiority in the presence of such remarkable comedians like Zareef, Nazar, Asif Jah,
Munawwar Zareef, Nirala, Rangeela and Nanha.
First stroke and then vision problems forced him to quit the cinema.
He won the prestigious Nigar award on twelve movies and created a record.
Up until 1999, no other Pakistani comedian had been able to break Lehri's record.
Lehri received the Nigar award for best comedian in the film 'Daman' in 1963.
Nigar award for best comedian in the film 'Paigham' in 1964.
Nigar award for best comedian in the film 'Kaneez' in 1965.
Nigar award for best comedian in the film 'Mein wo nahi' in 1967.
Nigar award for best comedian in the film 'Saiqa' in 1968.
Nigar award for best comedian in the film 'Nai laila naya mujnu' in 1969.
Nigar award for best comedian in the film 'Anjuman' in 1970.
Nigar award for best comedian in the film 'Dil lagi' in 1972.
Nigar award for best comedian in the film 'Aaj aur kal' in 1976.
Nigar award for best comedian in the film 'Naya andaaz' in 1979.
Nigar award for best comedian in the film 'Saima' in 1985.
Nigar award for best comedian in the film 'Beewe ho to aisee' in 1986.
As a small, but very sincere token of their gratitude, the Pakistan film industry presented him a special
award in 1993, for his splendid thirty eight years of flawless films.
Lehri the great has doubtlessly found a permanent place in the hearts
of his countless admirers, which is enough to keep his legacy alive for an extended period of time.