Even on a sunny day, his room has a very gloomy feel to it. Countless moments are spent staring at the walls; an ordinary quiet shrouds the space, as if words too, have lost all motivation here.

‘Master’ Ashiq Hussain, who composed a myriad of unforgettable melodies for the Pakistani cinema for almost five decades, now, prefers a songless silence.

Few are aware that Hussain is also the man who composed what can safely be called the world’s most famous dhamaal: Lal meri pat for Pakistan cinema. The sufi masterpiece has propelled numerous artists from the subcontinent to international fame.

Amazingly, Hussain composed this dhamaal in just a few minutes at the request of Saghar Siddiqui – an eminent poet, also known as the ‘Poet of Pain’ – who wrote it.

Once a top notch music director in Pakistan, Hussain now lives in a slum at the Bazar-e-Hakiman near the Bhatti gate in old Lahore.

Electricity is too much of a luxury to demand, while food is a godsend at the ‘Master's’ home.

This dire financial situation forced Hussain’s son Asif Ali, a talented keyboard player, to start selling pakoras at the roadside to feed the family. Ali, a heart patient, passed away a few days subsequent to this interview, after a hard life of toil.

Hussain’s contribution to Pakistan’s silver screen cannot be eclipsed but he gained very little appreciation in contrast to his contemporaries, like Nisar Bazmi and Rasheed Atray or Robin Ghosh.

But it is not just the music world that forgot Hussain, the government and even his friends turned a blind eye to Pakistani’s finest melody maestro.

True to his self, Hussain, now in his 90s, has never sought help from people “who do not care about artists.”

Echoed gloriously across the world in the voices of Noor Jehan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Runa Laila, Jagjit Singh and Abida Parveen, Dama Dam Mast Qalandar is Hussain’s masterpiece.

Lollywood owes him gratitude for composing evergreen music for movies like, Jabroo, Aakhri Dao, Billo jee, Azmat-e-Islam, Shaam Savera, Aadmi, Kaale log, Jaib Katra and Waris Shah.

Listen to various versions of Lal meri pat:

Clarification: Lal Meri Pat was not written by Ashiq Hussain, but his compositions of the famous song featured in Pakistani cinema. The origins of the first composition lie in the history of the Sufi shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh.


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