Lehri - A Comic Genius!

The wordy retort that Safirullah ‘Lehri' mastered in his Pakistani film career, was unequalled in the sub-continent!

It was superb the way comic genius, Lehri, whose death anniversary recently passed, employed his craft of delivery, and got standing ovations in Urdu movies, right from Dil Mera Dharkan Teri to Nai Laila Naya Majnoon to Aag to Ik Nagina in the 60s. It was the trend those days, in comedy as well as tragedy. But, to continue to polish this trait during the 70s and 80s was something incredible! His brilliant performance, for instance, opposite Munawwar Zarif, Nirala and Khalid Saleem Mota in an out-and-out hilarious comedy, Shararat, from mid 70s, cannot be forgotten. The way he mouthed remarks like “Bete, aap ke haan khawateen main kya kya hai,” or “Ziada deir munh na khula rakho, makhi chalee jaegi”, may seem like routine ones, but the way he delivered them made you laugh like mad!

Lehri used pronunciation, and distortion of it, to fire his delivery. As I said, it was an age-old trait since the beginning of bolti films. But he plied it to innovative perfection till the day he was doing films. You can see that inventive genius in a 1983 movie, Biwi Ho To Aisi. That film ran to its golden jubilee on the basis of Lehri’s dialogue delivery, and copied in India. To Lehri’s credit, the way he performed in tragic tones in Hasan Tariq’s 1970 hit, Anjuman, proved how talented he was. He did such justice to the classical dialogues of Agha Hasan Imtisal that he got the Nigar Award for it.