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Friday, May 16, 2008

Celebrated Pushto singer living a miserable life

Celebrated Pushto singer living a miserable life

Chief Minister Pakhtunkhwa Mr. Ameer Haider Khan Hoti giving away a cheque amount to Rs. One Lakh to renowned Fold Singer Badshah Zarin jan at his office after a news article was published in the Daily The News Internatonal yesterday.zahid>

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Celebrated Pushto singer living a miserable life

Thursday, May 15, 2008

PESHAWAR: Once rightly considered the queen of Pushto ghazal, Bacha Zareen Jan, who was awarded ‘Tamgha-e-Imtiaz’ for enthralling music lovers for four decades, is now living a miserable life; thanks to Philistinism displayed by the people at the helm of the affairs.

The melody queen, who ruled minds and hearts of the millions, has now become a perfect example of the Pakhtun psyche noted by famous Pushto poet Ghani Khan in his book ‘The Pathans’, in which he says, “Pakhtuns love music but hate musicians.”

Born in village Kalpanay, Par Hoti, Mardan, in 1942, Zareen Jan lives along with her nephew in a small two-room rented house in Peshawar. The legendry singer started her career at age 7 when she gave her first performance in a programme aired by Radio Pakistan in 1949.

She has the singular talent of having sung Pushto, Hindko, Punjabi, Seraiki, Potohari, Urdu and Persian songs. Later, she decided for a career in singing but was only after she sung ‘Gila da Khpalo keegi Nakri sook da pradoo na gila’ (complains are made to near ones and not to aliens or unknown) that she came to the limelight. “The song became a hit at that time and won appreciation from all and sundry,” she recalled while talking to The News.

Zareen Jan, commonly known as Bibi Gul, sang thousands of Pashto songs for radio, television and stage, few of which including ‘Za Pana Walarha yama’ Halaka balai ma narhawa Leeday ma na shay, ‘Ma pre sezi, zee pa makizoono yara’ and ‘Allah ho sha Allah ho’ are still fresh in people’s minds and are being hummed even today.

She was the first woman Pushto singer who passed secondary school examination from a local school. Zareen Jan said she got initial music lessons from her elder sister Dilbar Jan Balelai and later on Ustad Pazir Khan-the father of famous Sarinda virtuoso, Munir Sarhadi groomed her talent. Ghulam Farid was her mentor in Urdu singing.

She also performed at All India Radio, Delhi. Apart from singing Bibi Gul played central role in radio dramas like Jalat Khan-Mahbooba and Sher Alam Mamoonai. Bibi Gul won plaudits from her admirers. In addition to dozens of awards and certificates, she was decorated with ‘Tamgha-e-Imtiaz’ on March 23, 2000 for her enormous contribution to Pushto music.

Zareen Jan sang national songs for country’s troops during the 1965 and 71 Pak-India wars. “At that time only live programmes used to be aired so I remained at radio station round-the-clock,” she recalled. She also worked with famous radio producers like Ashraf Maftoon, Arbab Rashid, Younis Sethi and directors like Rashid Ali Khan. She has worked with renowned musicians including Sham Lal, Ustad Pazir Khan and Daulat Khan

Speaking of the present-day Pushto music, she said singers today used old tunes. “There is no creativity except the remixes. New experiments should be done but according to the trend of Pushto music prevalent in our society,” she said.

Zareen Jan did not marry and dedicated her life to Pushto music. As is the fate of other artistes in our country, she is now living a quiet and miserable life in Gulbahar. She has been fighting various diseases for the last so many years. The monthly stipend (Rs2,500) that the culture department used to give her has also been stopped for the last one and half year.

A few days back NWFP culture minister Syed Aqil Shah visited Zareen Jan’s home. Besides giving her Rs3,000 from his pocket he assured her that her stipend would be restarted soon. He promised that the government would try to acquire a plot of land for her.

Interestingly, the visit of the cultural minister to Zareen Jan house invited more trouble for her. When the news of provincial minister’s visit appeared in newspapers, people who had given loans to Zareen Jan from time to time started thronging her rented home to demand a recovery of their loans.

“The minister gave me Rs3,000 and assurances for resolving my miseries but the people think as if I got some hefty amount of the government, which is not the case,” she clarified. Artistes of other provinces received admiration as well as monetary benefits from the government while those from NWFP were always neglected, she complained. She urged the authorities concerned to help her and provide a house where she could live with honour.

The last five years of anti-cultural and anti-entertainment government of MMA dealt a serious blow to the cultural atmosphere of the province. Now, as the nationalist party which claims to be champion of safeguarding Pakhtuns rights was at the helm should provide relief to people who in their own capacity worked for the promotion of Pushto language

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