Celebrated drummer Zulfiqar Ali, popularly known as Pappu Sain, passed away in Lahore on Sunday after a protracted illness.
He had been suffering from liver cancer and admitted to the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Transplant Institute (PKLI) for almost a month.
His funeral prayers were held at the shrine of Baba Shah Jamal and he was later laid to rest at Mai Sahiba’s shrine at his ancestral Chak Juhmra village. His qul will be held at 3pm on Monday (today) at his residence near Lahore’s Shalamar Gardens.
A recipient of Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, Pappu Sain won accolades for his skill not only in Pakistan but also abroad and came up with performances at local and international festivals.
He had fans all over the world, those who love to listen drum beating woven into Sufi tradition. He was a flag-bearer of Sufi tradition in playing on a drum.
Above all, he had special attachment with Lahore where he lived and entertained large audiences at Baba Shah Jamal’s shrine every Thursday.
His spiritual association with the shrine never faltered and he would never play commercial beats on his drum because he was a staunch follower of the Sufi tradition and followed it throughout his life.
During his performances spanning almost four decades, he also performed on the platform of the Rafi Peer Theater Workshop.
Sadaan Pirzada, the moving spirit behind the RPTW, told Dawn that Pappu Sain had first interaction with the Rafi Peer Theater back in 1992 and there was no looking back.
He was the finest drummer Pakistan has ever produced and he entertained large audiences at our festivals and on tours with us to different countries.”
Pirzada said, “we have lost two finest drummers this year – Goonga Sain and now Pappu Sain”. Goonga also started his career with Pappu Sain as a young boy and was then introduced by the Rafi Peer Theatre for the first time in their production, ‘Patay Khan’ in 1992.
Pappu Sain also remained associated with music band Overload. His international performances witnessed huge crowds at the US, the UK, Canada, the UAE, Germany and Switzerland.
He had been fighting against liver cancer and the government recently announced Rs200,000 succour for him. His son Qalandar Bakhsh is also a good drum player and pledges to carry on his father’s legacy.
Condolences poured in from far and wide after the news of Pappu Sain’s death. Minister for Culture Khayal Ahmad Kastro expressed grief over the death of Pappu Sain who, he said, was an asset to the country.
The students of the Alhamra Academy of Performing Arts also expressed grief after hearing the news of maestro’s passing.
Dhol player Arishma Maryam paid tribute to him by saying he (Pappu Sain) had the same stature in his skill which Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had among singers.
Originally published in Dawn, November 8th, 2021