LAHORE: Monday morning took away some of Quetta’s brightest minds during the Civil Hospital bombing.
While a majority of the deceased, whose numbers are increasing by the hour, belonged to the city’s legal fraternity, there was one among them whose talents exceeded those of an average lawyer.
Ashraf Sulehri, or Chachu as everyone in the artist community called him, was indeed a high court advocate of some repute, but his legal practice did not stop him from becoming a man of the arts. The deceased had been a renowned TV and stage actor for the last 40 years and was among Quetta’s most respected showbiz personalities.
The Sibi-born Sulehri put together a band of actors every year, for stage performances at the Sibi Festival. This was revealed by actor Imran Tareen. “Despite his work as a legal practitioner, he was very active when it came to both TV and stage. He never forgot his roots,” he added.
It is not long that PTV Quetta centre producer programmes Javed Shah met Sulehri. Only three days ago, the two were occupied with Independence Day shows. “He was so enthusiastic about our August 14 recordings and was in a great mood,” he said. Shedding light on Sulehri’s acting prowess, Shah said, “He was so good. Over the years he has performed equally well in all kinds of roles,” adding, “Sulehri was also an excellent host and could even write well.”
Starting out with stage, Sulehri also forayed into radio and eventually established himself as a TV man. Saanwari, Tapish Mitti Ki, Aahung and Sham Se Pehle were some of his famous TV dramas. Moor actor Hameed Sheikh was on great terms with the deceased. Sheikh said the death has come as a shock to him. “He was very humble and I do not recall him having a disagreement with anyone. He was a nice friend and we will miss him forever,” he said.
Actor Shiba Butt played his wife in what was Sulehri’s last TV play, Suraj Baba’s Eid Hulchal. “Quetta has produced a number of great actors but Sulehri was different. It is a huge loss for us,” she said, adding, “The death will hit PTV Quetta centre’s janitorial staffers the most. He used to financially support dozens of them.”
Being one of the city’s senior most artists, Sulehri was the go-to person for any and every newcomer. His nickname explains his position quite aptly. Actor Shaista Sanam said she was devastated by the news of Sulehri’s death. “I have no words … It was the worst day of my life,” she said. Sanam said in Sulehri she lost a very sincere colleague who mentored her for a major part of her career. “He did a lot for the people of Quetta. There is a reason why everyone in the city’s entertainment circuit loved him so much.”