Pakistani ghazal singer Tahira Syed says she loves performing in India because the audiences here are more appreciative of serious music than those back home. But she laments that cultural exchanges between the two countries had had little effect on their governments.
"The Indian audience is more sophisticated, culturally aware and has more knowledge of serious music while in Pakistan only those who have been watching television know me," Syed told IANS in an interview.
"I have recorded more good numbers in this country. My audience in India comprises a few people; however, their response is just flattering. I would happily come here every week to perform," she said.
The gifted daughter of legendary ghazal singer Mallika Pukhraj was in the capital for a concert after a long gap.
Her resonant voice and vast repertoire of Urdu, Punjabi and Pahari folk songs has made Syed a popular singer. Chanjar phabdi na and Abhi to main jawan hun are some of her most popular songs.
She said that for long art had been successful in blurring boundaries between the two nations but unfortunately it had not affected the governments of both sides.
"Culture is the best ambassador and its exchange has been continually going on at an individual level between residents of both nations for years. It is heart wrenching to see that it doesn't affect the governments at all.
"I have friends here, when I visit them they shower me with love and when they come to our country, people fall over each other to welcome them. It is all because our roots are intertwined," added an emotional Syed.
Raving about Indian television serials, she said the soap operas were a huge hit among Pakistani women.
"Women schedule there day according to the timings of serials, shops are full of jewellery and clothes that actors wear in these daily soaps. Homemakers are crazy about them, as they identify themselves with the characters. They feel that the women of the other country face family problems similar to what they do."
Commenting on the media boom, she said: "The diversification of media has changed the lives of music lovers. For instance, via the internet you can see and hear original music, which is sometimes virtually impossible to acquire.
"Moreover, these days I see a lot of youngsters choosing music as a career option, as there are specialised music channels that pay vocalists very well.
"Earlier youth used to find no money in music, so they were apprehensive about taking it up as a career choice."
With youngsters taking up Bollywood singing and pop music, classical music is no more the preference of the new generation, Syed said.
"It is a price you pay for progress. Alas, nothing can be done! But classical music will never lose its audience. Both kinds of music will co-exist as they have their dedicated audience.
"In fact after attaining maturity both pop singers and listeners will return to it. Pop-music can give listeners a momentary high while classical music provides inner peace. Also, singers cannot sustain for long without learning it because it is the base of singing," added Syed.