An Interview with Farida Khanum

Farida Khanum

Farida Khanum. While driving through the busy streets of Lahore on a Saturday, I was trying to prepare myself for my meeting with the legendary Ghazal singer herself. As it happened, it wasn’t easy to get hold of her. With time and age, she has been very selective in the people she meets. It took me a while to get hold of her contact numbers, and to feel that courage which let me dial her number for the very first time. “Ma’am Farida Khanum baat ker rhe hein?” “Ji mein bol rhe hon” When the first time I talked to her via phone, it was as if I have had known her since ages (While driving to and from work, I listen to her melodious voice on an almost daily basis, so for me she is pretty much a regular part of my life). While driving towards her residence, I was thinking about all these things, breathing deeply to prepare myself for the moment when I will be in the presence of Malika-e-Ghazal. To be honest with my readers, I was not sure what to expect. Women in performing arts can be too plastic for my liking. Will she be the same? And within my heart I was hoping that it will not be the case. After talking to her a few times via phone, I was sure it will not be the case. Farida Khanum, Malika-e-Ghazal, will not be a disappointment, I told myself before ringing the bell at the entrance of her bungalow. Read more..

Mir Shahdad Rind and Mehnaz-Pakistani Folklore

Mir Shahdad Rind and Mehnaz

Mir Shahdad Khan Rind belonged to a prominent family from Balochistan. He was a brave warrior who had helped the Moghul King Humayun regain his throne by defeating the Suris.

Mir Shahdad Khan was very fond of his second wife Mehnaz who loved him too. The couple was leading a happy life but their happiness was short lived. Mir Shahdad’s first wife was jealous of Mehnaz and was always thinking of ways to lower her in Shahdad’s eyes. One day she succeeded in her evil plan; she disguised herself as a man and somehow convinced Mir Shahdad that Mehnaz was involved with Umer, a shepherd. Mir Shahdad was furious and hurled accusations at Mehnaz. There was nothing Mehnaz could do to prove her innocence so she went back to her family.

Now as a custom in Balochistan, anyone who wants to prove his or her innocence has to undergo an extremely tough test. Mehnaz was asked to put her hand in a pot of boiling oil and recover a ring. Mehnaz did so without hurting herself.

Mir Shahdad’s joy knew no bounds and wished to take her back with him. Mehnaz on the other hand was deeply hurt by his accusations and refused to go with him. She asked him to divorce her and with a heavy heart, Mir Shahdad Rind had to comply. Mehnaz later married the shepherd Umer leaving Shahdad to spend the rest of his life in regret and remorse.

Pride of Pakistan – Mehnaz: The Pakistani Songbird

Famous Pakistani songer Mehnaz Begum

Mehnaz Begum is a famous singer of Pakistan who dominated the film music scene from the late 70s to the early 90s. Mehnaz’s mother Kajjan Begum was a good singer too and so music was in her genes. She started her singing career in 1970.

Mehnaz was well trained in classical music and she could sing ghazals well. She also recited the marsiyas and nohas during Muharram. Her claim to fame however remains playback singing. Mehnaz’s voice was beautiful, soft and melodious. She could portray emotions well and the composers approached her to sing songs whenever there was a dramatic moment in the movie. A true artist she sang with intensity and delivered every note high or low with perfection. Her lilting voice best suited romantic songs. Her romantic solos and duets were very popular and touched the hearts of the people. Mehnaz could create any mood with her flexible voice. Mehnaz is the only singer to have won 10 Nigar Awards, 7 of them consecutive.

Mehnaz was also a prolific ghazal singer. She sang Ahmed Faraz’s ghazal Jana so well that he dedicated it to her; an honor indeed.

Mehnaz is now married and settled in the USA. Mehnaz will always be remembered for her innumerable contributions to Pakistan’s music.