February 2004




February 2004 


 The Indian King  Vulture - threatened

Dilip Chhabaria
 - designer forever



 Reshma - "India and
 Pakistan are my two


Shujaat Husain Khan

Faisal Alkazi

India's quaint greens

 Real Issues
Security for women 
 by women

Gujranwala - its
 people & industries


 Coffee break
 In South Asian News


 the craft shop

 Lehngas - a limited collection

 the print gallery


 Between Heaven and Hell

  Silk Road on Wheels

 The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

 Parsis-Zoroastrians of

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in










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Reshma.jpg (78069 bytes)

Ashqaan di gali …as the melodious voice wafts through the hall, there’s a sudden silence. For world-renowned Pakistan folk singer Reshma it’s been a Lambi judai from Bollywood and after almost two decades, fans are welcoming her back with open arms. The Lahore-based folk singer Reshma was in Delhi recently for the release of the film Woh Tera Naam Tha in which she has sung the hummable Ashqaan di gali. Perhaps a measure of her popularity can be gauged from the fact that when she made her entry at the press conference, she received a standing applause from the usually cynical journalists. Even after decades her luminous voice remains the same. It still grabs your attention the way it did years ago.

Excerpts from an exclusive interview with Avinash Kalla

How did you feel receiving a standing ovation from journalists?

R - The sound of the applause shows not just the love that people in India have for me but it also is proof of the cultural ties that bind our two countries. It is an honour for any artiste to receive such admiration. I am indebted to all my well-wishers who keep blessing me and like my voice and singing.

It has been over two decades since you sang Lambi judaai for Subhash Ghai’s film Hero. Do you think a lot has changed in the Hindi film industry?

R - Many times change signifies progress. Yes a lot has changed and a lot hasn’t changed. Someone told me the other day that my voice hasn’t changed. I am thankful to Allah for that. [Laughs] But I find it hoarse and heavy. I sometimes wonder what people find in my ‘bulldozer’ aawaz.

You are in India on a month-long tour. What else have you been doing?

R - I was invited to perform at a function organised by Gaj Singh at his beautiful palace in Jodhpur. It was for the first time perhaps that there was no room even to stand. Now I am looking forward to a visit to my native place, Bikaner where I have a musical performance as well. I will try and go to Ajmer Sharif as well.

How does it feel to be loved and admired in India?

R - Dono desh mere do jahaan hai [India and Pakistan are my two worlds]. I was born in one country and live in another. There is no difference among people on both sides of the border. Our traditions, culture and expressions are the same. People in India are like my brothers and sisters who shower me with the same love and respect that I get from the people of Pakistan.

How did you decide to sing in a Bollywood film after almost twenty years?

R - I have sung whenever I am given a chance. The director of Who Tera Naam Tha, Kuku Kohli came to meet me in London where I had a concert. He asked me if I would sing in his film and I told him, ‘When you have travelled all the way to invite me with so much affection how can I say no.’ That’s how I am back singing in a Hindustani film.

Why was the song recorded in Dubai?

At that time there were travel restrictions between the two countries. So we decided to record the song in Dubai.

Are you open to more film offers?

R - Why not? I am looking forward to coming more often to India to perform on-stage and sing in films. I’ve always enjoyed giving performances in India.

Can you tell us a bit about your background…especially your musical roots?

R - I was born in India in Bikaner to a family of banjaras [gypsies] who moved to Pakistan when I was very young. I received no formal training in music and I still cannot read or write. Be it a folk song, ghazal or a film track, I sing from my heart. But the musicians have to work hard on me as they have to first teach me the lyrics orally because I cannot read.

If you’ve received no formal training then you must have worked very hard on your voice training….

R - Not only have I never received any formal training in singing but I have seldom practiced as well. The only riyaz that I do is the namaz that I offer every morning. Allah has blessed me with this voice.

Since when have you been singing?

R - I’ve been singing ever since I started to speak. But I gave my first formal performance in 1965 when I was 17.

Since your first Hindi film song Lambi judaai was such a hit why didn’t you sing more?

R - As I said I have come whenever I am invited to sing. Apart from Lambi judaai and now Ashqaan Di Gali I have sung in Sanjay Khan’s Sarzameen and Heer Ranjha.

Is it true that you had some throat problems sometime ago and you almost gave up singing?

R - Yes sometime back I suffered a serious throat infection that kept me from singing for a long time. My voice was restored after a surgery. Aap ke pyaar aur duaon ne mujhe nayi jindigi de di aur main gaane ke liye haazir hu (your love and blessings have given me a new life and I am here to sing for you.)

Which in your opinion is your most favourite song?

R - It’s like asking a mother which is her most favourite child. I love all of them. But if you ask me to make a specific choice then I’d say I am particularly fond of the Qawwali Shehbaaz Qalandar.

Who are your favourite Indian musicians and singers?

R - I have great respect for Naushad sahab and I consider him my guru. I am also a great admirer of Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar and my most favourite song is Lata’s Rasik Balma.

Do you think there will be a more frequent exchange of artists now with the improved relations between India and Pakistan?

R - I have always prayed for peace between the two countries so that art and culture can thrive. Only if there is aman will singers like us prosper. So let’s all pray that love and harmony prevails not hatred and tension.




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