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42 is no age to die, he was a powerhouse of talent, says Sajid Samji of dear friend Wajid Ali Khan

Wajid Ali Khan, one half of popular music composer duo Sajid-Wajid, died on Monday of a kidney infection complicated by COVID-19.

Wajid Ali Khan and Sajid Samji

Keyur Seta

The death of Wajid Ali Khan, one half of popular music composer duo Sajid-Wajid, at just 42 years of age came as a shock to the film fraternity as well as cine-goers.

Wajid Ali, who had undergone a kidney transplant some time ago, died of complications brought on by a kidney infection and COVID-19.

Sajid Samji from writer-director duo Sajid-Farhad had worked with Wajid Ali and shared a good bond with the music composer. His death affected Samji deeply. “It is a big shock," the filmmaker said. "Forty-two is no age to die. He was a powerhouse of talent. It’s a big loss. He would have done a lot more!”

Sajid Samji said the loss of Wajid Ali shows that it is necessary to appreciate a person when he or she is alive. “When a person dies, people say he was such a good person. Sometimes it is so awkward that we realize it only after that person is gone. When that person is in front of us, we don’t express our appreciation as such.”

Samji, writer of popular films like Housefull 2 (2012) and Housefull 3 (2016) — which he also directed — Golmaal 3 (2010) and Golmaal Again (2017), Singham (2012) and Singham Returns (2014), and Ready (2011), Bol Bachchan (2012) and Chennai Express (2013), believes the times we are living in since March have made this all the more clear. “COVID-19 has taught us that we should appreciate someone irrespective of whether he has worked in one film or 25 films,” he remarked.

Sajid-Farhad’s association with Sajid-Wajid goes back at least 20 years, when they had just arrived in Mumbai to look for work as lyricists. “During this time we also met many actors. Salmanbhai [Salman Khan] is our godfather, as you know. He gave us our break. We met Sajid-Wajid when we had gone to meet Bhaijaan [Khan],” he recalled.

The two sets of brothers became fast friends, given the similarities they shared. “Both pairs had one Sajid," Samji reminded us. "And both Sajids are extroverts, funny and keep cracking one-liners. And Wajid and Farhad are similar. Both are somewhat introverted, down-to-earth and not very talkative.”

Sajid Samji and Farhad Samji

During Sajid-Farhad’s initial days in the film industry, they were called by Sajid-Wajid who wanted a demo for some lyrics. The four met outside Mithibai college in Vile Parle in western Mumbai. “I remember that meeting well,” Samji said. “We had eaten the famous vada-pao there and were talking. That time itself we realized these are very genuine people. They had also just started off. They had done a few projects but had not really come into the limelight.”

Samji found that Sajid-Wajid remained down-to-earth and natural even after they achieved fame. “Whenever we have had sittings with them, I don’t remember Wajid ever having lost his temper or speaking ill about anything. He believed a lot in god. He was the most god-fearing person I have met,” the writer said.

Speaking of their work association in later years, he added, “They were commercial composers, just as we are commercial writers. We did some films together for Davidji [filmmaker David Dhawan] in which we wrote and they composed the music. They were Davidji’s favourite music directors.

“I just pray that his family gets a lot of strength," he continued. "Right now we are speaking about him, but after that I will return to my world and you to yours. Only those who have lost their loved one will understand how it feels.”