Pakistani Singers Carved a Niche for Themselves in Indian Movies

Music lovers enjoy music irrespective of language differences whether they comprehend the lyrics or not. If it appeals to the listeners’ senses, it is a great success or super hit to quote reviewers. While browsing through YouTube for melodious music, I realised that there is an influx of singers from Arabic or Urdu background judging from their names. Each singer had ‘top ten songs in Indian movies’ music video montage. On researching, I was initially surprised to learn that the singers are/were Pakistanis but on second thought realised that it was unsurprising as they share the same legacy of art, culture and music as pointed out by a virtual acquaintance.

My exposure to talented Pakistani singers commenced in 1980 when I went with my family to watch a blockbuster film ‘Qurbani’ in which Zeenat Aman, the film’s lead actress lip-synced “Aap jaisa koi mere zindagi mein aaye” a song sung by Nazia Hassan. Although most songs of the film were regarded as a success, the above-mentioned song was a standout. A few years later “Hawa hawa ye hawa khusboo loota de” became very popular and to say that every teenager, child and adult hummed the tune wouldn’t be an exaggeration. The song’s popularity has not diminished even in this century as the song has been revived in the film ‘Mubarakan’. Now the list has become long with many newcomers storming the Indian music industry with their passion for music such as Reshma, Atif Aslam, Momina Mustehsan, Imran Khan, Nursat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Ghulam Ali, Ali Zafour, Adnan Sani (acquired Indian citizenship later on), Nazia Iqbal, Juniad Asghar …

Classical music is synonymous with culture both in India and Pakistan. Indian film Industry being one of the largest film industries in the world is continuing to provide Pakistani singers with more opportunities than their home industry ever could. These singers do not come to Indian film industry just for name, fame or monetary benefits but to establish their identity on their home soil or their ancestral place of origin. Theirs is an existential search for recognition among one’s own community despite the geographical divide. One cannot find a more ardent fan for Pakistani singers than I and I am sure that’s the case with thousands and thousands of Indians. If we had not embraced them, setting aside our differences, they could not have tasted success or achieved the heights at which they are today. Pakistan may be our most esteemed rivals when it comes to cricket matches but it is a different story when it comes to music.

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