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People Speak

April 20, 2019

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Shaukat Ali, 35, dhol beater
Shaukat Ali, 35, dhol beater

“I started learning the traditional dhol at the age of 10. Before that I sat at a tailor’s shop at my village in Hafizabad. No one in my family played any instrument. My father was a small landholder and we are eight siblings. Thought my father wanted us to get an education, he never forced us. None of us has ever been to a school. Being the youngest, my parents were very lenient with me. I had always been fascinated by music. Luckily my father also did not object. I started going to a dhol beater in Gujranwala who taught me to play the instrument. Once I learnt the trade, I taught two of my brothers too. They also ended up in this profession.

My first performance was at Lok Virsa when I was 17 years old. I still remember it. Everyone was on their feet when I started playing the dhol. After that I got acquainted with folk singer Arif Lohar who took me under his wings and started teaching me singing.

There was no looking back after that. My music took me places. I have performed throughout the country and even visited Norway, Germany, China, Dubai and Turkmenistan. I will also be part of Coke Studio in its upcoming season.

I had the honour of performing before Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Shaikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman during their recent visits to Pakistan.

I earn around Rs10,000 per event. I have three to four musicians who accompany me at every event.

I have four children and all of them are school-going. Two of my sons have an inclination towards music. My 10-year-old son is learning singing while my younger son is learning to play the dhol.

I have never forced my children into this field, but I would not object to them taking it up as a profession.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2019