LAHORE: Pakistan’s iconic playback singer Arthur Nayyar was given a tearful send-off here on Wednesday as he was laid to rest at Christian Graveyard on Jail Road in the presence of his friends, relatives and family members. He died on November 11 at the age of 66.

Eminent singers and film personalities attended his funeral at Central Cathedral of Praying Hands. They termed his death a great loss for music industry and also raised concern on mistreatment of artistes in Pakistan.

The church choir presented religious songs for the departed soul. The Bishop Azad Marshal announced that it was an unusual funeral. “On ordinary funerals, the family and friends would sing the special prayers for the departed soul but in Nayyar’s case the song the legend singer recorded for church himself was played”, he said.  

Arthur Nayyar will remain with us through his eternal voice,” his wife told the media at his funeral service with sobbing eyes. Qayyum Nayyar, elder brother of A Nayyar recalled his school days at Arifwala when Nayyar’s teacher discovered his singing talent and informed our father. “On the very same evening, our father asked Nayyar to sing a song, and from that day then there was no stopping to it”. 

Sitting quietly at Cathedral’s wooden benches and looking at the coffin of A Nayyar, Daud Shams, one of his fans, took a deep breath before sharing his thoughts. “Nayyar was more patriotic than others. I must say Nayyar refused multiple offers from India to perform there but he always declined such offers”, he observed. The religious songs which he had recorded for church are masterpiece of music apart from his commercial singing, Daud said. 

Nayyar started his playback singing on show Naye Fankar in 1974 after that his singing career enthralled every ear that hears his song and successfully reined the Lollywood’s music arena. His popularity reached at his peak for duet song ‘Pyar to ik din hona tha’, with Naheed Akhtar from the film Kharidar. He won five Nigar Awards for outstanding playback singing for his songs in films ‘Aag’ (1979), film ‘Jeenay naheen doon gee’ (1985), ‘Ghareboan ka badshah’ (1988) and in ‘Taqat ka tufaan’ (1989).

Singer Sajjad Tafu said that he had worked with A Nayyar since 1974 and since then the unforgettable journey with the great friend continued till his death. His demise has jolted the music and film fraternity of Pakistan, he added. Expressing his emotions, political activist Joseph Francis said that he was a great asset for the country and he has lost a valuable friend and a great human being.

Former Managing Director of PTV Naeem Tahir said he was a great human being first, and then a great playback singer. “God Almighty had gifted him with great voice which he utilized to earn a good name for his country. He would be remembered for his kindness, and greatness as human being.”

His class fellow and friend Prof Abdia Elvin  summed up Nayyar’s whole life journey in a line saying that he was a man of integrity and dignity.”

Singer Shoukat Ali said: “Our government should have started encouraging and supporting our artistes in their lifetimes instead of waiting for their death”. He said government should make coherent policy for their financial assistance.  Sahoukat Ali also sang Sufi poet Mian Muhammad Baksh lyrical poetry which sheds light on the man’s ultimate journey to death. “Whatever he sings, he sings it beautifully,” he said

“The vocalist case for Pride of Performance has been moved lastly in 2013 through Pakistan Television Network, the institution which he served for long time, but no development has been made in this regard,” Evangelist singer Haroon.

Singer Babar Anjum was of the view that Pakistan government ignores artistes when they are alive but later after their death they are bestowed with honour and given awards like Pride of Performance. “I am sure A Nayyar will now be award the prestigious award and his family will receive it. In his lifetime, however, no one bothered to give him this honour,” Babar said. (Photos by Mohsin Raza)