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Moeezuddin Mohmand
Moeezuddin Mohmand

PESHAWAR: Back in 80s, when there was only state-run TV, an engineer-turned-singer created waves when sung poems of great Pashto poet Ghani Khan.

Sardar Ali Takar, whose singing style resembled Saigal and Ustaad Nashanas, quickly became favourite with youth. It was not only the poetry and voice but music was also modern. That attracted Pashtun youth to listen to it too. Sardar Ali Takar’s sonorous voice and Ghani Khan Baba’s poetry became somewhat synonymous. Decades later, still Takar is known and revered for singing the great Pashto poet, Ghani Khan.

Now is the age of social media like Facebook, WatsApp and more such applications where youth hardly read poetry books. Moeez’s voice is once again reviving the same love for Ghani Khan’s verses.

Moeezuddin Mohmand is just 24. He has already found a voice as he sings Ghani’s verses. He said that he quickly connected to Ghani when he read his poetry. Youth can get Ghani because his poetry is expression of feelings of youth like him.

24-year-old Moeez is happy to sing in his own way without any professional guidance or help

“Ghani is not just for the learned and the philosophers alone. Young people like us get him too,” said Moeez. The problem so far has been the fact that Pakhtun youth don’t read books in Pashto language.

“I don’t read books much but once I started reading Ghani Khan I was amazed how easy it was for me to get him,” said Moeez. He chooses verses and composes himself. He came up with some very good compositions during jamming sessions with his friends Atif and Ishad Bangash.

His first two compositions on Ghani Khan’s verses “Badshahi De Jehan Se Krhay, Zan La Walay Zyatay Gham” [Why you want kingdom of the world and increase your woes] and his composition of “De Mohabbat Bazaar Ke Ogarzedam” [I walked in the market of love] are just a glimpse of his hidden talent that needs encouragement and an opportunity to bloom.

Youth is already sharing his songs on Facebook and Watsapp. Some even heard these verses of Ghani Khan’s for the first time through his songs.

Moeez like to call his style a mix of rock and Sufi music but sometime some notes hit folk chords of a Tapay-loving Pakhtun. His style, no wonder, is a unique mix because he is a youth, who likes experiments and comes up with something of his own than copying other singers.

Moeez, who has no resources to form a band and complete recording his albums ‘Badshahi’ and ‘ Qismat’, is happy singing in his own way without any professional guidance or help.

He said that folk musical gatherings in hujras in his village were something he enjoyed. There is no mike and no judgments just pure fun singing to the locals in one’s own language. “I had been a bathroom singer for a long time and not have had many concerts,” he said shyly.

Moeez is very humble when he talks about his talent. According to him at times he is not sure if his voice is any good but when youth listen to Ghani Khan in his rock style, they go crazy. His friend Atif vouches for that. Ironically Moeez is not loud rather his voice is soothing.

“I tell audience to focus on the lyrics [Ghani Khan’s poetry] and it is so mesmerising that they forget how I sound,” said Moeez in a lighter vein.

He seems unaware that how once Sardar Ali Takar attracted youth to listen to his songs by singing Ghani Khan. He might be re-doing just that after decades but in a much challenging time to a youth attracted by so many other technologies. He is once again reviving Ghani Khan for the Pakhtun youth.

Moeez is young, unsure and an amateur but surely he has attributes of making of a great Pashto singer.

While in his lifetime Ghani Khan seemed to be frustrated at how his verses were sung. People say he even expressed it openly. Moeez’s songs despite modern music have captured the rebellious spirit of Ghani’s poetry. He has sung Ghani Khan aptly. Perhaps in a manner Ghani Khan himself would have liked Moeez’s songs.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2016