I have no bone to pick with those singing war tunes in the aftermath of the Uri attack and India’s surgical strike in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir. I just feel we are striking a discordant note when we want to black out their actors or muzzle the voices of their singers.
I am not one to swoon over the good looks of Fawad Khan or sigh looking at Ali Zafar. But the bunch of Pakistani singers have given us so much joy over the years that I would argue for turning deaf to demands of those shrill voices who want to keep their singers out.
Just imagine how desolate our musical landscape would have been but for these fantastic singers. Can you imagine qawwalli music without the haunting alaaps of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan? How about the world-class quality that ghazal virtuosos such as Mehdi Hassan and Ghulam Ali lent to the genre? Simply revisit the lyrics of the mellifluous: Ja phir se mujhe chhod ke jaane ke liye aa from Mehdi Hassan’s milestone ghazal Ranjish hi sahi, and you would understand what I am talking about.
Fans of Ghulam Ali, whose concerts in India keep getting banned on the flimsiest of pretexts, keep thronging the venues whenever he sings live: asking for encores of their favourite ghazals such as Chupke, chupke raat din aansu bahana yaad hai and Hungama hai kyon barpa, thodi si jo pee li hai.
One refreshing respite for those connoisseurs of lyrics who were reeling under the onslaught of mediocre songs being unleashed in the 1980s was the powerhouse performer Reshma. When I heard her sing Lambi judaai in Hero (1983), I went up to my mother to ask who the singer with the haunting, powerful voice was.
Growing up, I made acquaintance with Abida Parveen singing Bulle Shah, sang along with Mallika Pukhraj crooning Abhi to main jawan hoon and heard Farida Khanum mesmerise a packed central Delhi auditorium with Aaj jaane ki zid na karo .
And I am not even recounting the frenzy their singers such as Nazia Hassan, Junoon and Strings generated this side of the LoC or the musical gems that Coke Studio Pakistan regularly keeps unearthing.
I might not go to light candles at the LoC with an Aman ki aasha. But I am sure hoping that our neighbours keep producing more accomplished singers from their nursery of brilliant musical talent.
Follow @Aasheesh74 on Twitter
From HT Brunch, October 8, 2016
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