Shahnaz Begum: Pakistan Zindabad

By Anis Shakur
Tuesday – August 14, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Jab tak hai ye duniya baaqi hum deikhein Aazaad tujhay
‘We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop,’ Is a statement by mother Teresa and it seems to ring too true to the music great, Shehnaz Begum, as well.

There are enough success stories to fuel the fever. Shehnaz is one of them. Shehnaz Rehmatullah, who is widely known as Shehnaz Begum, is a kindred spirit to millions of her devoted admirers.

Shehnaz is, indeed, fortunate that music genius, Sohail Rana, composed the greatest and most memorable national songs in her mellifluous voice.

Most definitely, Shehnaz’s sweet singing voice resonates with the sheer power of songwriter Masroor Anwar’s lyrics and Sohail Rana’s unparalleled music composition that mesmerizes the listeners as nothing else. Here is a magnificent, musical, masterpiece: ‘Sohni dharti Allah rakhay qadam qadam Aabad tujhay.’

Obviously, Shehnaz’s voice and Sohail Rana’s composition gave national songs aliveness unusual in the seventy- one year history of Pakistan. When the national song below was first telecast from the Pakistani television station, the public was remarkably quiet and reflective. Many listeners became very emotional:

‘Jeeway jeeway jeeway Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan, jeeway Pakistan.’

The habit of singing for the stage gave Shehnaz the greatest ability to confront the audience with confidence. The public listens to Shehnaz with a real reverence:

‘Aas bandhi ghar Aaye badara, sawan ki ruth lay kar Aaye, khushiyoan ki baraat ray.’

Five decades later, the music buffs enthusiastically belt out the well-loved ghazals from the very old collection. Shehnaz’s songs and her simplicity did appealed to the masses. Eyes misting, the music lovers listen to the ghazal below:

‘Kahan ho tum chalay Aao mohabbat ka taqaza hai, gham-e-duniya say ghabra kar tumhain dil nay pukara hai.’

Some, who would go on to great fame, remember that to go up is difficult, but to stay on top is far more hectic and painstaking. With talent, dignity and national songs like the one below, Shehnaz captivates the hearts of her adorers:

‘Mauj barhay ya Aandhi Aaye, diya jalaye rakhna hai, ghar ki khatir sau dukh jhelain, ghar to Aakhir apna hai.’

During her monumentally influential years as a singer, Shehnaz tremendously impressed the new generation through her superb songs. Additionally, Shehnaz has done what I think only a few singers have accomplished: Be enormously successful in both the songs and ghazals. One example below:

‘Ruk jaao abhi na jaao, dil ko kaisay samjha’on, aisay mein tujh ko janay day wo dil kahan say laa’on.’ The film ‘Ehsaas,’ theatrical release was on December 22, 1972, music composer, Robin Ghosh. Jubilant fans also greeted the song, ‘Yoon nazrain na.’ The film ‘Ehsaas.’

Those were the glory days, when all Pakistan buzzed with stories of Shehnaz. Her voice did sound the better in the two songs below:

‘Mein kisay pujti, mein kisay chahti tum na miltay, agar, kitni veeran hoti meri zindigi tum na miltay agar,’ The film ‘Dhamaka,’ December 22, 1974, composer, Lal Mohammad Iqbal, lyrics, Asrar Narvi, pictured on Shabnam. ‘Mein to hutoan say kaatoon gee, mein to kanoan say kaatoan gee.’ The film ‘Dhamaka.’

To listen to Shehnaz is to embark on a mission of love and hospitality. I do not believe we have a word for this kind of feeling. We are eternally grateful to you, Shehnaz!