SOUNDCHECK: SINGING IN THE RAIN

12 Jul 2020

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This is a song that sparks joy. I first heard it this past January at the Lahooti Melo, an annual music festival held in Jamshoro-Hyderabad that brought together indigenous musicians from across the country, along with a few more mainstream pop and rock acts. The group that had produced the song and directed the video requested that it be played during the festival. It had the effect of everyone dancing to it.

A few weeks later, I heard it playing, pretty much on repeat, at a fancy chai dhabba in Jamshoro. Needless to say, the song was quite popular locally. And why not? A music legend from that city had sung the original version.

The original version is no less joyous. Rim Jhim Barsay Badal was first sung by the late legendary singer from Jamshoro, Allan Faqeer. There’s a video available on YouTube on the ‘Sindh Culture Government of Sindh’ channel which shows the late singer performing the song at the Urs of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai in 1983. Two things immediately stand out.

Muhammad Masood’s Rim Jhim is a joyous tribute to the folk music legend that sang the song first — Allan Faqeer

First, just how young Allan Faqeer looks. I’ve grown up watching him with Muhammad Ali Shyhaki in PTV’s Allah Allah Kar Bhayya video that came out as a part of the Rang Tarang programme in 1986 (although I saw it in the ’90s). In three years, he’d aged quite a bit. Second, the quality of the recording is very good for a live show at the Urs of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, which is attended by people from around the country. The vocals and the percussions are very clear.

Other than the fact that Allan Faqeer’s vocals hit you right in the feels, his joy in the song is contagious. He also does some of his signature moves. Moves, that are somewhat replicated in the newer Rim Jhim that came out earlier this year.

This version of Rim Jhim has been composed, produced, performed and directed by Muhammad Masood. It seems like Muhammad Masood wants to make Sufi music trendy again. The description on his channel reads ‘Resketching sufi music and folk with EDM [Electronic Dance Music]’. I’d say that at least with Rim Jhim he’s done a pretty good job so far. He’s featured Sajid Ali, Bilal Mahesar and Wahid Allan Faqeer in the song as well.

It must be noted here that Wahid Allan Faqeer is not related to Allan Faqeer. Allan Faqeer has only one son who’s also launched himself into music, Faheem Allan Faqeer. Wahid is reportedly so ‘inspired’ by the late legend that both he and his son have not only taken to dressing up exactly like him, but also have also taken his musical style and even his name. There’s also a tribute to Allan Faqeer on YouTube in which they’ve covered the late artist’s famous song, Humma Humma, which formed part of the fusion Allah Allah Kar Bhayya. This version also features Bilal Mahesar.

There are lots of covers out there of Rim Jhim Barsay Badal, but Rim Jhim by Muhammad Masood and his gang of merry men marries traditional Sindhi poetry, percussions, rhythm and tunes with modern EDM in a way that’s just perfect. Here’s to spreading more joy in the world.

Published in Dawn, ICON, July 12th, 2020