Rajab Ali — the melodious voice of the ‘70s and ‘80s — Part II

This breakthrough was too attractive for him to refuse especially as the female voice accompanying him was by none else than that of Madam Noor Jehan for heroine Zeba. Perhaps filmdom’s’ lights were too bright for him to opt for life long struggle to become a recognised classical vocalist, especially when his elder brothers were already established in that domain as such. As far as his choice of hero he desired to sing for, it was Waheed Murad. Rajab Ali quoted his Punjabi song for the film ‘Mastana Mahi’ in this regard.
In one of other informal discussions, about being a folk singer also, Rajab agreed that folk music is as much our heritage as is classical music. His only condition is that its impact is long lasting if rendered in ‘Sur’ (tune). Just by appearing in gaudy attire, holding a chimta (pliers) in hand and playing rhythm with it and dancing with it may enchant the audience for a while but its impact vanishes once the audience realises that the performer is out of tune, contended Rajab. He elaborated that most of folk singers of today and the past have paid very little attention to attain a voice level in proximity to sur (tunefulness). Either they sing ‘Kum Sura’ (below the note) or be-sura (out of tune), he said. Rajab’s opinion about pop music is that the word “pop” is a misnomer in our country. Merely holding a guitar and singing on electronic drums and instruments does not make a person a pop singer. Being a frequent visitor to the western countries and now living permanently in UK, he believes that he finds western pop music very appealing being close to its ethnicity and customs. The performers render their lyrics in tune. The dance and rhythm sequel suit their genetic behaviour. The same is applicable to black race whether in Africa or elsewhere. I may add here the charming dancing steps of West Indian teams after winning a cricket match are a treat to watch. 
According to Wikipedia, ‘African popular music, like African traditional music, is vast and varied. Most contemporary genres of African popular music build on cross-pollination with western popular music. Many genres of popular music like blues, jazz, salsa, zouk and rumba derive to varying degrees on musical traditions from Africa, taken to the Americas by African slaves. These rhythms and sounds have subsequently been adapted by newer genres like rock, and rhythm and blues. Likewise, African popular music has adopted elements, particularly the musical instruments and recording studio techniques of western music. Afro Pop is a term sometimes used to refer to contemporary African pop music. The term does not refer to a specific style or sound but is used as a general term for African popular music.’ We, on the other hand are trying to create tunes on guitars, drums and keyboards, which have little melodic base. Indian commercial cinema has destroyed this form further by making a hotchpotch of Punjabi or other folk music turned into dance numbers (item songs) with western instruments and cheap lyrics. It has forgotten its own rich melodic cinema base in music. 
Rajab mostly sang for the movies made in 1970s and 1980s. Looking into just film songs, not the ones sung for Radio Pakistan and PTV, by Rajab, the list seems very impressive. One of the most talked about songs is “Zindigi apni guzar jayegi araam ke saath” with Madam Noor Jehan for the movie ‘Khaak Aur Khoon’ in Nisar Bazmi’s music. This legendary music composer again opted for Rajab along with Munir Hussain, Runa Laila for the song “Khuda hai muhabbat, muhabbat Khuda hai”’ in the movie ‘Meri Zindigi Hai Naghma’ in 1972. Lyrics were by Shevan Rizvi. Music composer Nisar Bazmi this time paired Rajab with Mahnaaz for the song “Teri qasam tere sir ki qasam” for the 1975 movie ‘Zeenat’. This song was written by poet Taslim Faazli.
Legendary music composer Khwaja Khursheed Anwar also used Rajab for the song “Mujh se tujhko pyar hai kitna” for the movie ‘Parai Aag’. This song was rendered along with Naseem Begum for this 1971 movie with lyrics by none else than Habib Jalib. Ustad Tafo Khan used Rajab for the song “Pehlaan kadi main janeda jhoota aei tera pyar ni” for the 1971 movie ‘Ucha Naan Pyar Da’. Tafo used Rajab for another three songs; “Wichre yaar milan te lagda” in 1979 movie ‘Jutt Da Kharak’, “Batti pichle ander di bujh gai” in 1980 film ‘Sohra Tei Jawai’ and “Jaddun vi sharif koi ghusa khanda ae” (with Masud Rana) in the film ‘Attal Faisla’. 
Movie ‘Dil Ik Aina’ with music by M Ashraf and lyrics by Hazeen Qadri had a song “Meri aahon sei muhabbat ka jahan jalne laga”. Another 1972 movie with Runa Laila was ‘Jab bhi sunoon gi teri bansuriya” was for M Ashraf’s movie ‘Main Bhi Tau Insaan Hun’. Continued

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