Famous Pakistani Dhol player Zulfikar Ali, known as Pappu Sain has passed away in Lahore following a prolonged illness. He was diagnosed with liver cancer and stayed on a ventilator for over a month.
Sain lead a 40-year-long career and was internationally recognized for his powerful Sufi drumming. He played at the shrine of a Sufi Saint Baba Shah Jamal every Thursday night. The government of Pakistan also awarded him Tamgh-E-Imtiaz for Cultural Production in the country. The legend also performed in other countries including the US, UK, Canada, Germany, UAE, and Sweden.
Pappu Sain Leaves Shah Jamal Silent
The flag-bearer of Sufi drumming in Pakistan has fans all over the world. His spiritual attachment to the Lahore city and Shah Jamal shrine is nothing short of a folktale for locals. Pappu Sain said in a media interview in 2016 that he was on a duty assigned to him by Baba Shah Jamal. Describing his experience in the performances, he said the connection was so native and effortless that it was like someone else was playing the Dhol for him.
His funeral prayers were offered at the same shrine before being laid to rest at his ancestral village, Chak Juhmra, as he requested.
Never Went Commercial
Despite being a part of a rock band, Overload, Pappu Sain never used a commercial style of music. He was a staunch follower of Sufism and followed it all his life. One of Sain’s band members Farhad Humayun also passed away earlier this year in June.
After Sain’s death, his son Qalandar Baksh will continue his father’s legacy at the Shah Jamal.
A Mentor to Many
Besides being an amazing player himself, Pappu Sain was also the teacher to so many aspiring drummers.
One of his students was a girl named Horeya Asmat, who stayed with him at the hospital in his last moments. She said that Sain always worked hard to promote a soft and tolerant image of Pakistan on global platforms. She also told that Sain was reluctant in the beginning when it came to teaching women, said it would be difficult for them. However, his mentorship increasingly became inclusive and started teaching the art of Dhol to many girls. In the end, Asmat mentioned that Sain told her how proud he was of her achievements.