Music composer Wazir Afzal dies in Lahore
One of the legends of the golden age of Pakistani film music, Wazir Afzal, died in Lahore on Tuesday after a long illness. He was 87 years old.
According to circles close to Afzal, he presented with multiple medical complications and had been admitted to Shaikh Zayed Hospital a week earlier.
Funeral prayers for the deceased were held in Masjid Khurasaan, Iqbal town and he was buried in a cemetery in Allama Iqbal town. The funeral was attended by musicians Akbar Abbas, Qadir Shaggan, Khawar Abbas, Moin Butt, Baila Nasir and many more.
Wazir Afzal was born in Patiala in 1934. His family originally belonged to Amritsar but had moved to Patiala. Her brother had a sports store where they also sold musical instruments. Young Wazir started playing Sarod, which was available at the store. After the partition of India, Wazir Afzal came to Lahore and then to Karachi to join Radio Pakistan as an instrumentalist. He quit work after a year and returned to Lahore where he started playing Sarod at the Standard Hotel on The Mall, owned by Khawaja Khurshid Anwar’s father. One day, the music composer Master Ghulam Haider saw him play Sarod and asked him to start playing the mandolin, instead of Sarod. Wazir began to play the mandolin. This led to his journey in film music where he used to give background music, mainly, at first, at the Pancholi Studio in Muslim Town. He learned film music composition from Khawaja Khurshid Anwar and worked as an assistant.
Wazir and Afzal were actually two friends who made music together. They were Wazir Ali and Muhammad Afzal and became famous as Wazir Afzal. Before starting their musical career, Afzal played the violin while Wazir played the mandolin. They continued to work together until 1968. However, despite their separation, Wazir continued to compose music under the name of Wazir Afzal and continued to gain recognition. He continued to use the name and was identified as Wazir Afzal for decades to come.
Wazir Afzal composed 209 songs in 37 films, including 31 songs in five Urdu films and 178 songs in 31 Punjabi films. Some of his films have not been able to come out. His first film as a freelance music composer was Chacha Khamkhwa in 1963, produced by Aslam Irani. For this film, he composed three songs. When actor Allauddin started making films, he hired Wazir as a composer, which cemented his place in the film industry.
Wazir had many immortal songs to his credit. Some of his memorable compositions include “Shikwa Nah Ker Gila Nah Kar”, “Sayo Ni Meray Dil Da Jani”, “Ja Ajj Tu Mein Teri Tu Mera”, “Kehnday Nay Naina” and “Neendraan Nahi Aandian”, “Chhap Tilak Sub Chheen ‘and’ Yeh Rangeeni-i-Naubahar, Allah Allah ‘. Most of his songs were sung by Noor Jehan who sang 104 of his compositions. He continued to compose music for films until 1987. He then worked at Radio Pakistan and PTV as well.
Musical circles and singers have expressed their deep sorrow at the passing of Wazir Afzal. Singer Anwar Rafi has said that Wazir is an institution in himself and the void left by his death cannot be filled.
Instrumentalist Sajjad Tafu called Wazir a great mentor to many musicians, including himself. The Lahore Arts Council, the Punjab Arts Council and the Punjab Institute of Languages, Arts and Culture have sent their messages of condolence.
Originally posted in Dawn, September 8, 2021