Popular Punjabi singer-lyricist and Bhangra star Pammi Bai (Paramjit Singh Sidhu), who has just received the National Sahitya Akademi Award for his contribution to Punjabi folk music, says his favourite song is the one which he sung with Lahore’s Akram Rahi.
Released on the non-commercial YouTube circuit recently, the song is penned by late Pakistani poet Zahur Hussain Zahur. “For long, I wanted to do a song sung straight from the heart with celebrated singer Akram Rahi from across the border. When I came across ‘Doven Punjab de puttar haan, Punjabi saadi boli hai’, I knew this was a song true to Punjabi soil.”
It took Pammi Bai several years to transform this song into a video because he wanted to show the landmarks of Pakistan’s Punjab as well as those on the Indian side. “So the song was filmed on both sides of the border. The song would not have been complete without Harmandar Sahib, Jallianwala Bagh on this side of the border and Nankana Sahib, tombs of Waris Shah and Bulleh Shah on the other side,” he says.
The song traces the common roots, culture and history of Punjabis saying: “Iss mitti sanu janam ditta, Ihade ahlane vich chunj kholi hai, Asseen doven Punjab de puttar haan, Punjabi saadi boli hai (We are born of this soil, We woke up chirping in its nest, We are both sons of Punjab, Punjabi is our language)”. This song has stirred many hearts across the border and got a tremendous response on both sides of the barbed wire. “It has been beamed on TV channels in India and Pakistan,” says Pammi Bai.
Even as political and military tensions cloud the borders of the two countries, the song continues to get applauded by listeners from both sides. The comments to this song on Youtube are telling. Most of the comments proudly continue to celebrate the spirit of the sons of the soil in the song, which has 1,62,353 views, 462 likes and 55 dislikes.
Pammi Bai holds that the tensions between the two countries have been political and the writers as well as artistes of both countries have always sent messages of love and goodwill to all humanity. “This is the very nature of literature and art to spread, love and harmony. The moment it seeks abhorrence, it ceases to be literature or art,” he adds.
The singer says he visited Lahore the first time in 2004 to perform during the World Punjabi Conference. “Coming from a progressive family as my father was a Communist freedom fighter and my mother a harmonium player, I grew up listening to the love of the people on both sides and their sad uprooting at the time of the Partition. But I did not know the extent of the emotions till I visited Lahore, once the capital of united Punjab,” he says.
Irrespective of emotions running high, Pammi Bai is forthright in saying: “I am a proud Indian, a proud Punjabi but above all a concerned human being. This song is a prayer for peace and a message of love and sharing for GenNext.”