Friends, colleagues, admirers and members of the family of legendary comedian Umer Sharif, who passed away on Oct 2, gathered at the Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi on Saturday evening to share their memories of the artist at a condolence reference held in his honour.
Addressing the large audience, Sharif’s son Jawad said his father was a great man. He represented Pakistan all over the world like an ambassador. He put his country before anything else. Wherever he went, he held the flag of Pakistan high.
“I travelled a lot with him. A few years back I was with him in the US where the mayor of Houston gave honorary citizenship to my father. But he refused to take that arguing that in his opinion Pakistan’s passport was the strongest (mazboot) in the world. ‘I will live in Pakistan, I will die in Pakistan. I will not live in any other country.’”
Family and friends of late legendary comedian Umer Sharif remember him at a condolence reference
Jawad said it was a matter of pride for him that God chose his father as someone who made people laugh. He helped a number of people in his lifetime, and worked with several NGOs. “I remember he had just undergone a bypass surgery, and some days later he was ready to serve those who were affected by the  earthquake. He was a dervish.”
Actor Munawwar Saeed said Sharif had tremendous respect for his senior colleagues. Once when he [Saeed] entered a TV channel’s office for work and saw Sharif sitting there in a chair; he wasn’t feeling well. Despite that the comedian stood up with difficulty to greet Saeed. “Whenever he’d meet his elders he’d touch their feet.”
Actress Salomi said Sharif was like a family member to fellow artists. It was his daughter’s death that hurt him the most.
She requested the Arts Council’s president to name a particular part of the council after Sharif.
Actor Aurangzeb Laghari recalled the time when he was in Lahore working in hit serials such as Waris and Dahleez. In those days he came to Karachi to take part in a show at a local hotel. Sharif came to see it. He approached Laghari and said now that he was in Karachi he should work in a stage play with him. And it happened.
But Laghari spoke mostly about the kind-heartedness of the late artist. He said once when he was in the Sindh capital singer Tahseen Javed and comedian Farid Khan around 11pm asked him to visit Sharif’s house. He agreed. Despite being late in the night, Sharif welcomed them with open arms, served them dinner though they had already eaten, and kept talking and entertaining them until dawn.
Arts Council president Ahmed Shah said Sharif was a great artist. The Arts Council was his home because his career began at the council’s Z A Bukhari auditorium. He had known him for 40 years, a friendship which saw ups and downs. Mr Shah claimed that the late comedian was the only artist who acquired immense popularity despite not working for television and film [in the early part of his career]. He created a new audience for the world of stage.
Salim Afridi, Zakir Mastana, Nazar Hussain and others also spoke.
Originally published in Dawn, October 18th, 2021