A day after his rendition of ‘Qaumi Tarana’, the Pakistani national anthem — before the start of the India-Pakistan clash at the Eden Gardens — was criticized on social media, Shafqat Amanat Ali on Sunday rendered an “apology”. The Pakistani singer, in a tweet, however, denied any mistake on his part, blaming “a few audio & technical glitches”.
On Saturday, the singer’s performance had drawn angry responses from Pakistanis. Some accused him of getting the lyrics wrong while others felt he should be “deported if he steps in the country again”.
Before leaving Kolkata on Sunday evening, Shafqat told TOI: “Since some people wanted me to tender an apology, they have one for me. This apology was for not being able to win their praise. But I neither forgot the lyrics nor got my tune wrong.”
So, what exactly did go wrong? According to the ‘Mitwa’ singer, it happened because the weather had denied him a chance to conduct a sound check. Consequently, he took a big risk to sing live in front of such a large — and charged — audience, he said. “Because of the rain, we didn’t get a chance to do a sound check. We went straight into the performance. There was one air monitor in my right ear which was playing the track a little earlier (out of sync). There was a speaker right in front of me. There, the sound was coming with a little delay,” he told Times of India.
It was this time lapse, Shafqat claimed, that was the problem. “I was also trying to not go out of tempo. Many told me that the overall sound of my performance was a little low and that some words might have sounded different. The original words are ‘Parcham-e-Sitara’. Due to sound problems, people heard it as ‘Parcham-o-Sitara’. But that’s incorrect. By no means had I forgotten our beloved ‘Qaumi Tarana’,” he said.
While Amitabh Bachchan got a thundering response for his rendition of ‘Jana Gana Mana’ from both sides of the border, even Pakistani fans were harsh on Shafqat, saying he was at his “poorest and weakest” during a “pathetic rendition”. When asked about the divergent reactions to these two performances, Shafqat said: “I respect him (Amitabh) immensely. Yes, he gave a great performance.”
Some of Shafqat’s online baiters had hinted that the enormity of the occasion had got to the singer — perhaps it was a bad case of stage fright singing to a 67,000-strong crowd at the Eden, more so because it came before such a crucial match. Shafqat, however, dismissed this allegation. “Not at all. I didn’t even want to sing on minus one track (a system of singing along a studio-recorded accompanying track). Had I wanted to do so, I could have easily gone to a studio, recorded the song and lip-synced. But I wanted to sing live though this wasn’t exactly a singing show. Besides, we also lost the match.”
Does he think his countrymen would have reacted differently had Pakistan won the match? “Maybe,” he offered.
Shafqat is thankful to Sourav Ganguly for offering him the chance to perform at Eden. “I want to thank him for the hospitality that he provided. It was heartwarming,” Shafqat said. Virat Kohli, too, received compliments. “He too had been criticized once for not performing well. It was a great comeback for him and I wish him all the best,” Shafqat said.