However, as is the state with Pakistan, we as a nation failed to honor them during their last days, which were of misfortune and poverty for these stars. Here’s a brief look at the list of artists who were poor at the time of death:-
1. Habib Jalib
From braving prisons to taking out processions against Hudood Ordinance, Habib Jalib stood up in the face of atrocity like none other. A revolutionary poet, his poems incited hatred against societal ills such as corruption, nepotism, feudalism and capitalism. An advocate of the leftist ideology, Jalib’s poems were a hallmark during his lifetime and continue to be relevant even to this day and age. His famous poems Musheer and Dastoor are still in use even today, in the face of tyranny and oppression. A charismatic poet who drew audience by the thousands only due to the prowess of his poetry, Jalib eventually succumbed due to illness. As a poor man, when Benazir Bhutto offered to take him abroad for treatment, he wryly replied to her,” ye jo baaqi ward pe paray hain woh nazar nahi arahe?” (Can’t you see the rest of patients in the ward?)
His son Yasir Jalib used to run a small poultry shop and earna meager Rs.400/day before going to Saudi Arabia for a job. His daughter had to run a driving school in order to meet the household day to day expenses. Such was the dismal state of affairs of Pakistan’s most celebrated poets.
2. Mehdi Hasan
Mehdi Hasan, the Ghazal legend who astounded millions by his melodic voice and drew in huge gatherings across the subcontinent. Born into a family of traditional musicians, he traveled to Pakistan and mastered the art of singing in mostly Urdu poetry. After singing a couple of times on Radio in the early 50s, Mehdi’s popularity skyrocketed both within Pakistan and in India. The famous Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar said regarding his vocal talent that ‘his is teh voice of God’. Leading poets such as Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Faraz and Qateel Shifai were happy to have their verses set to haunting music and sung by him.
The Ghazal maestro succumbed to multiple organ failures, after checking in and out of hospitals for the past three years of his life. The government of Pakistan did not live up to the standards that were expected of them in honoring the artist who had represented Pakistan with so much passion. He passed away due to multiple organ failure.
3. Maqsood Hasan
The little master who enthralled audiences on various mediums such as radio, stage and television, was an immense talent. Having worked with legends such as Mohammad Ali and veteran Behroze Sabzwari, he was a celebrated individual of the Pakistani artist community. Maqsood used his height to his advantage and made audiences roar with laughter in various television and radio shows. His latest show, Quddusi ki Bewaa featured him in a role which was also very much appreciated by the audience. Maqsood left behind a wife he had married six years prior to his death and nothing else of note. The actor, like many neglected artists of Pakistan, was not affluent enough.
4. Sikander Sanum
One of Pakistan’s most famed comedians and stage artists of all time, Sikander Sanum also met a tragic end. After enthralling and mesmerizing audiences with comic legends such as Umar Sharif and Moin Akhtar, Sanum garnered critical acclaim. However, what set Sanum apart from other comedians was his hilarious and entirely successful parodies of famous Indian movies such as Tere Naam and Ghajini. After battling liver cancer, Sikander Sanum passed away amid appeals of his family for financial assistance to seek treatment were ignored by the government. It is tragic and unfortunate to know how such a talented and popular artist was left alone and penniless in his time of need.