LAHORE: Renowned Punjabi folk singer Shaukat Ali passed away in Lahore after a long illness on Friday. He was 74.

He had been under treatment at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) for the last 20 days. He was suffering from multiple health complications, including liver disease. Shaukat Ali’s health had been continuously deteriorating for the last few years and he was hospitalised thrice this year.

His burial took place at Samsani Graveyard, Johar Town, at 10pm.

He is survived by his wife, three sons and two daughters.

Shaukat Ali was born in Malakwal, Mandi Bahauddin, in 1947, though his paternal family had roots in Bhati Gate area of Lahore. He started his career as a playback singer in 1963 from film Tees Maar Khan. He was introduced in the film industry by music director M. Ashraf.

The late vocalist also acted in two films and wrote two books of poetry

Shaukat Ali got his early training in singing from his elder brother Inayat Ali. He was known for his Punjabi folk, ghazal and geet singing. He was famous in Punjab, both in Pakistan and India, after singing Saiful Malook of classical Punjabi poet Mian Mohammad Bakhsh. His song Kadi Tay Hass Bol Way was remixed by an Indian singer and later included in an Indian movie too, while he gave new heights of popularity to Punjabi folk song Chhalla.

In one of his interviews, he said he was more of a ghazal singer at the start of his career and later turned to Punjabi singing when he was denied entry to a five-star hotel in Lahore for wearing shalwar-kameez.

Shaukat Ali had many national and war songs he sang during 1965 and 1971 wars to his credit. He performed in many countries of the world, including India. He gave a live performance at 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi. He would sing for free to promote the cause of Punjabi.

He also acted in two films Kufaraa and Akbara. Not many people know that he was a poet too and has two books of poetry, Takoran and Hujuaan Dey Aahlany, to his credit.

The late singer was the recipient of Presidential Pride of Performance Award as well as Pride of Punjab and Voice of Punjab awards.

Shaukat Ali was a familiar face at PTV since the 1970s and also sang from the platform of the All Pakistan Music Conference. He also was the host of a Punjabi talk show at PTV named Jee Ayaan Nu. Some of his famous songs include Kiyun Duur Duur Rehnday Ho, Jaag Utha Hai Sara Watan and Jab Bahaar Aai Tou.

A documentary by a Canadian company was made on him that encompasses his singing career.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed deep sorrow and grief over the death of Shaukat Ali, saying that his services in singing would always be remembered. He prayed for the soul of the deceased and patience for his family to bear the loss.

Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture (Pilac) Director General Dr Sughra Sadaf expressed sorrow over the demise of Shaukat Ali, terming him the ‘voice of Punjab’. She remembered him for his association with Pilac, which gave him Pride of Punjab award in 2016.

Lahore Arts Council Executive Director Aslam Dogar said Shaukat Ali had a long association with Alhamra and with his death, an era of great folk singing had come to an end.

Folk singer Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi, Punjab Minister for Culture Khayal Ahmed Kastro, singer Shabnam Majeed, Punjabi poet Baba Najmi, Punjab Council of Arts Director Abrar Alam sent condolences messages on the death of Shaukat Ali.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2021

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