Songbirds of Punjab Stagnancy Is Setting In!

It’s been decades the quails of Lahore have just kept their reputations intact! Their musical talent is unquestioned, but lately they have hardly anything to show for it!

It was over two decades ago that Saira Naseem sang those brilliant numbers for Syed Noor’s Chooriyan and Mehndiwaley Hath. The poetry of those songs was by Ahmed Aqeel Ruby and Rukhsana Noor. Both of them are no more in this physical world. Almost same time ago, in 1997, late great Robin Ghosh picked Shabnam Majeed as the best new voice from Lollywood for Nadeem-Atiqua starrer, Jo Dar Gaya Who Mar Gaya! She sang a lovely hit for it, titled Zindagi Mein Mujh Ko. Shabnam’s melodic rendition of Allama Iqbal’s La Phir Ik Bar Wahee Bada-o-jam Ae Saqi is still my favourite. A stunning voice, Fariha Pervez entered the fray with Patangbaz Sajna Ne. Similarly, Humeira Arshad’s pop and folk hits reverberated all over the country during late 90s. Shahida Mini was also singing popular songs then. The horizon was quite chirpy.

But, time seems to have stopped for them these last couple of decades. Stagnancy is setting in now. They should have moved on as singers into better categories. Sadly, they are still singing those boring khilandrey songs, with very ordinary lyrics and no novelty.

The favourite singer of all of them is Noor Jehan. They grew up singing Madam’s hits. And yet, her caliber hasn’t rubbed off on them. Neither they can pick good poetry for their albums, nor do they have good ghazal tunes. Since 2000, the only lady who has shown growth is Fariha Pervez. None else has given any geet or ghazal of class! At least, Humeira Arshad contributed a number to Coke Studio, but Shahida, Shabnam and Saira have not come forward with any meaningful number. Even, a great artiste like Shazia Manzoor has disappeared. Most of them are sitting on their past achievements!

When Noor Jahan was at her peak, she was challenged by singers like Naseem Begum, Zubeida Khanum, Iqbal Bano, Naheed Niazi, Runa Laila et al. Sadly, today, that calibre and zauq shauq is long gone.