2016 has been a very challenging year. It claimed many-a-lives that were a beacon of hope and happiness not just for their families but to the entire nation. Even though death does not spare a single soul on earth but the departure of these renowned figures we greatly cherished certainly left a void.
Fatima Surayya Bajia (1930-2016)
Fatima Surayya Bajia, popularly referred to as Bajia, left this world on February 10, 2016. Belonging to one of the most celebrated families in Pakistan’s entertainment industry, Bajia was certainly a magnetic personality. She was known for her exceptional writing abilities and served the nation as a great playwright, historian, scholar and mentor. Born on September 1, 1930 in Hyderabad Deccan in India, Bajia migrated to Pakistan with her family after partition and her contributions in the field of literature are infinite. She wrote several popular serials for Pakistan’s television industry including Shama, Aroosa, Afshan, Zeenat and Ana. She also wrote scripts for numerous historical plays, programmes centred on women, children and literature. She met everyone with warmth and listened to them even if she did not personally know them. Pakistan, indeed lost a magnanimous individual.
Amjad Sabri (1970-2016)
Amjad Sabri, who was one of the region’s most sought after qawwal singers was shot dead by assailants on June 22 this year. He was the son of Ghluam Fareed Sabri, one of the famous qawwal duo Sabri Brothers. Amjad had an amazing voice and his style of singing and reciting qawwalis resembled a lot to his father’s ways. His untimely demise left the nation grieving after he was shot dead at a young age of 45 in broad daylight during Ramadan. Those who knew him personally vouched about his down to earth and humble personality. The talented vocalist was known to have pushed conventions of Sufism with his music. Most of the qawwalis he recited were a version of his father and uncle’s already popular works like Bhar Do Jholi and Tajdare Haram, while his latest rendition for Coke Studio Aaj Rang Hai left everyone teary-eyed, where he performed alongside maestro Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Who knew it would be his life’s last ever performance.
Abdul Sattar Edhi (1928-2016)
Abdul Sattar Edhi is not someone who can be described in merely a few words. His greatness cannot be justified even if we use the best of adjectives from English grammar. Edhi was an upright humanitarian and philanthropist who established the Edhi Foundation, which operated several hospitals, ambulances, orphanages, old homes and rehabilitation centres for those who needed him in times of trouble. The great man, however, left Pakistanis mourning his death that took him away on July 8th, 2016. He was called the ‘Angel of Mercy’ as he served everyone without bias and never discriminated on the basis of religion, caste, creed and status. At 88 years of age, both of Edhi’s kidneys failed and he left a legacy of serving humanity on his family, who were already helping him run the organisation.
Qandeel Baloch (1990-2016)
Fauzia Azeem aka Qandeel Balcoh is certainly one of the most controversial figures of Pakistan. She was an internet sensation and model – someone not many would look up to, bowing to the norms of the society. She first came into the limelight after auditioning for Pakistan Idol; her audition made her viral on the internet, where she was seen challenging the judges with confidence. However, her death was something that left her name resonating with women rights, as she was strangled by her own brother in the name of honour on July 15, 2016. As claimed by Qandeel, her life was at risk and her plea to the government for protection from those she feared went in vain. Qandeel became Pakistan’s most searched personalities on the internet, which shows the hypocrisy of our society that once shunned her.
Shamim Ara (1938-2016)
Legendary actress and veteran director Shamim Ara died at 78 years of age, on August 5th this year. She had been inactive soon after the new millennium kick-started; however, it was her work during the 80s and 90s which diverted many artists towards the film industry, leading to its revival back in days. She did not belong to a film family; in fact, her real name was Putli Bai until she took up her popular name, Shamim Ara during her teenage years. Her work includes films like Kunwari Bewa, Miss 56, Anarkali, Wah Re Zamane, Jaidad, Aag Ka Darya, Naila, Chingari, Doraha, Salgirah, Lakhon Mein Eik, Dil Mera Dharkan Teri, Aanchal and her maiden production Saiqa to name a few. She also received the President’s Award for her film Saheli. The celebrated performer’s demise has left a void that cannot be filled by any means whatsoever.
Hanif Mohammad (1934-2016)
Born on December 21, 1934, Hanif Mohammad, also known as the ‘Little Master’ in the cricket spheres, encompassed an era in the great game. His soul departed on August 11, 2016 after battling with cancer, chest infection and pneumonia for a long time. While playing against India as a wicketkeeper on October, 1952, he became the youngest Test cricketer. Hanif batted in an era of fearsome fast bowlers, when chest guards, wrist protectors and helmets were not there to protect a batsman fighting to win a game. He played 55 Tests, including the country’s first and held the record to have scored the longest innings in Test cricket.
Shahlyla Baloch (1996-2016)
Shahlyla Baloch, striker in Pakistan’s women's football team, died in a car crash on October 12, 2016 in Karachi. Born in 1996, the 20-year-old striker was also a part of the Balochistan women's football team. She lived with a dream of making it to a football galaxy which is rarely targeted by anyone on this side of the world. Shahlyla took up the mission to persuade conventional mindsets to send their daughters to play the game. According to her supporters, Shahlyla Baloch was an active sportsperson and an individual who served for the betterment of women’s football in Pakistan. From receiving the youngest Asian player award to being the first female scoring a hat-trick in an international league, Shahlyla somehow was on a spin – a whirl where somehow she knew time was on a roll for she bagged and trained, running faster than time, somehow trying to outrun and beat it at its own game of irony – yet, time’s marker turned victorious.
A Nayyar (1955-2016)
Arthur Nayyar, popularly known as A. Nayyar, breathed his last in Lahore on November 11, 2016. He was not just a good playback singer, but also carried the weight of being a top Urdu vocalist at a time when the industry was struggling due to the emergence of Punjabi cinema. Born on April 14, 1955 in Ransonabad village of Sahiwal district, he shot to fame in the early 70s with his appearance on TV (Naye Fankaar) and his first playback song (Yunhi Din Kat Jaye). Nayyar sang for nearly all the superstars of the film industry starting from Nadeem, Waheed Murad, Mohammad Ali, Shahid and Ghulam Mohiuddin to Sultan Rahi, Javed Sheikh, Asif Raza Mir, Faisal Rehman, Ayaz Naik, Jan Rambo (Afzal Khan) and Humayun Saeed. Starting from 1974 till his last hit in 1999, A. Nayyar sang over 4000 songs in his 25-year singing career; he appeared in a handful of films as well but singing remained his passion.
Junaid Jamshed, the pop-singer-turned-religious scholar was someone who enjoyed a musical career that lasted 15 years and was going strong in his religious course when his life was cut short by a plane crash on December 7th, 2016, that also claimed the lives of other 48 people onboard. Born on September 3, 1964, Junaid wanted to serve in the Pakistan Air Force. However, after failing the initial test, he decided to pursue education, but destiny had other plans for the young man. He joined a couple of bands before forming Vital Signs with Nusrat Hussain, Rohail Hyatt and Shahzad Hassan. The four came up with Dil Dil Pakistan on August 14, 1987 and it became an instant hit. Junaid had a lot to offer to the society that adored him, be it as a celebrity, a philanthropist or an evangelist. His demise proves the fact that good people usually go too soon. •