Song Of Lahore

This Memorial Day Weekend, while looking for some movie to watch at home theater, we stumbled upon a documentary” Song Of Lahore”. It is available on demand at Cablevision. This documentary turned out to be a rare treat. It is directed by Oscar winning director Sharmeen Chinoy. It follows classic Lahori  musicians who went through a hard time during General Zia’s regime and later Taliban’s rise that made playing music in public a life threatening endeavor. They recently started to regroup and create their own eastern version of Jazz music, Sachal Jazz. Their journey led to invitation by Wynton Marsalis, famous American Jazz musician, to collaborate with them and perform at Lincoln Center with full Orchestra. It is about 90 minute’s documentary but time flies and especially last 45 minutes are full of drama and joy. It is worth watching with family and friends.

Link to trailer of Documentary;

Posted By F. Sheikh

‘ Waheed Murad & His Fan’ By Nadeem Paracha.

A delicious but sad story by Nadeem Paracha about our childhood film hero, Waheed Murad. (F. Sheikh)

Illustration by Abro

One of the paan shops where I usually buy my cigarettes from once had a fading poster of bygone Pakistani film star and icon, Waheed Murad. I had noticed the poster pasted in one corner of the shop ever since I first began buying my cigarette packs from this place almost 20 years ago.

I know the shop owner well. Today he is a white-haired man in his late 60s and his name is Yameen. He owns three more such paan and cigarette shops in the area and has done well for himself and his family.

He lives in a three bedroom apartment (which he owns) with his wife and three children (two sons and a daughter). The sons are college graduates. One of them looks after two of Yameen’s three shops, while the other son works in the sales department of a tea company. Last year Yameen’s daughter completed her intermediate from a local college.

Yet, despite the fact that I have known Yameen for over 20 years now, I had no idea that before he set up his first paan shop in Karachi’s Boat Basin area 31 years ago, he used to be a barber.

I came to know about this only recently after I finally asked him about the fading, dusty Waheed Murad poster that he just refused to peel off.

He began to laugh: ‘Arey, aap nahi jaantey …?’ (You still don’t know about this?).

One of Yameen’s, employees, Kudrat, smiled as well: ‘Yaar Paracha Sahib, aap nein Yawar Bhai ki dukhti rug par haath rak diya hai …’ (You have hit a sore nerve).

It turns out that the poster is over 40 years old! Yameen bought it from a street vendor in Saddar’s Regal area in 1974 when he was in his early 20s. He was a huge Waheed Murad fan.

At the time Pakistan’s film industry was thriving and Waheed Murad was one its biggest stars.

Yameen had joined one of his uncles’ barber shop in the city’s Guru Mandir area after he dropped out from a government school in the 10th grade.

‘I had become a barber because of Waheed Murad,’ he told me. ‘His hair style was all the rage in those days. Women were crazy about him and all the men wanted the barbers to give them the Waheed Murad Cut …’

In 1979 Yameen managed to set up his own barber shop. But four years later he suddenly sold it to a friend and used the money to open a paan shop in Clifton.

Wasn’t the shop doing well?

The shop was doing very well,’ Yameen replied. ‘I was making good money from it.’

But then why suddenly sell it?

‘Murad Sahib ki wafat hogayee thi …’ (Waheed Murad died), Yameen explained.

After Murad’s demise, Yameen stopped going to the cinema and anyway, by then the country’s Urdu film industry had already begun its downward slide and the extroverted and populist characteristics of the pre-1980s’ society had begun to fold inwards.

‘One day, just like that, I quit being a barber,’ Yameen explained. ‘I was heartbroken by his (Murad’s) death. But more saddening was the fact that people simply forgot about him. He had brought such joy and colour to so many Pakistanis, but very few mourned his death.’

When Pakistan’s film industry began its decline, a number of actors and filmmakers who had been joyfully reaping fame and fortune suddenly found themselves stranded and abandoned.

Some took to drinking and slipped into obscurity; some compromised their egos (and fee) and began doing TV plays; while others ventured into taking roles in loud, kitsch Punjabi films whose stock and popularity rose rather bizarrely in the 1980s. Click link for full article.





A cursed song?- Insha Ji Utho Ab Kooch Karo

Ibne Insha was a nifty character. Poet, diplomat, author and a Marxist. However, he was mostly known for his poems that he regularly published in compilations and literary magazines.

There is one poem that he penned in the early 1970s that greatly heightened reputation. It was called Insha ji Utho (Get up, Insha).

The poem is about a melancholic man, who, after spending the night at a gathering (most probably at a brothel), suddenly decides to get up and leave — not just the place, but the city itself.

Is it the power of poetry that makes the song of death or is it just a coincidence?

He walks back to his house and reaches it in the wee hours of the morning. He wonders what excuse he will give to his beloved. He’s a misunderstood man looking for meaning in (what he believes) is a meaningless existence.

Ibne Insha

(Ibne Insha)

The poem soon caught the interest of famous Eastern classical and ghazal singer, Amanat Ali Khan.

Amanat was looking for words that would depict the pathos of urban life (in Karachi and Lahore).

Someone handed him Ibne Insha’s Insha ji Utho and Amanat immediately expressed his desire to sing it.

He met Ibne Insha and demonstrated how he planned to sing the ghazal. Insha was impressed by the way Amanat actually transfigured himself into becoming just like the forlorn protagonist of the poem.

posted by f sheikh