PESHAWAR: “I could never imagine that people would still like to listen to us,” said Ahmad Gul, a veteran Pashto singer, as he sat in Nishtar Hall in front of a big crowd talking about music.
First it was Ahmed Gul, then Gul Meena, Gul Sharaf, Mehjabeen Qazalbash and finally Almas Khalil, who has once again gained popularity after singing a song “Pregeda Ma Pregeda” (Let me do it!).
“Terrorism has pushed us further back and we don’t know that we would be singing in gatherings or what Pashtun call ‘mailus’ again,” said Ahmed Gul while speaking about his life and music at the function entitled, “Perzawana” or tribute organised by Latoon organisation and sponsored by provincial culture and tourism department to pay tribute to the living legends of the Pashto music by reviving the old songs through holding live music sequencing of the old singers with new musical instrument and singers.
Applause by participants of function instills new life in elderly artists
Bakhtiyar Khattak and Janas Khan, young Pashto singers, said that the programme was meant to pay tribute to the living legends and revive Pashto folk music.
Ahmed Gul, an elderly Pashto singer, was brought to the stage by two helpers. He went on to proudly claim that he sang along legendary singer Ahmad Khan for more than 15 years. Not only his namesake, Ahmad Gul still has a strong resemblance in his singing style with Ahmed Khan.
He proved it by singing “Khana Razaa”, “De Khapero De Bagh Malyara” -- folk Pashto songs, which were applauded by the audience. It seemed that the applause and singing rejuvenated the old singer and he went away looking light hearted and motivated on his own two feet.
Then came Gul Meena. The coy middle-aged woman looked no different than any other village woman in her simple attire. However, when she uttered “Ya Qurbaan” she sounded like a nightingale.
Years ago she had quit singing yet when she sang the love-tale of “Yousaf Khan and Sherbano”, two young singers and hosts Bakhtiyar Khattak and Janas Khan could not match beats with her and stood stunned alongside her.
Then another living legend, Gul Sharaf, with Santa-look, mesmerised audience with his magical voice taking back audience to the good old past.
It was astonishing that even Gul Sharaf, who had stopped singing some 16 years ago, could revive the audience with his upbeat song, “Yo Ishq Wo Naway Naway”. The old romantic Pashto songs with rich deep voices of the living legendary singers with upbeat music were appreciated by the audience.
Mehjabeen Qazalbash looked enthusiastic to see the audience and sing her popular songs like “Goongay Shway Walay Na Waye Haloona” but she interacted more with audience about how one clap of a listener heartened a singer. She said that there was little applause for the singers, who kept music alive.
However, the audience was very appreciative when Almas Khalil took the stage. He had been singing since 1965 when he was just 16. However, as pop and rock music gained popularity, folk singers like Almas Khalil went into oblivion. Many like him quit singing.
Almas Khalil himself started farming but recently when a young singer Bakhtiyar Khattak started live music sequence shows with old folk singer, he shot to popularity once again for his song “Pregeda Ma Pregeda” (let me do it!). He recently signed a contract to sing for a Pashto film.
He looked charged with his newly regained popularity and sang even a song “Charsyaan” (The intoxicated) requested by the youth from the audience.
Some of the new singers like Shawn and Laila Khan, who were also given a chance to sing, could not stand against the rich and natural rustic voices of the legendary singers.
Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2015