Ali Azmat’s rant

Trashing an iconic figure won’t get a has-been any kudos

Onetime Junoon lead singer Ali Azmat tried to make everyone sympathize with how tough a childhood he had by saying that his generation was brought up on PTV, with Madame Noor Jehan appearing in full make-up. When there was uproar at the dragging in of one of Pakistan’s most successful singers, he issued an apology that was no apology, but a restatement of his claim. Mr Azmat does not have the excuse of being a historian of music, in which he might speak about a musical icon however irreverently as he wanted.  It is perhaps not surprising that Mr Azmat should pitch into someone who is no more, and thus unable to reply herself, but it is surprising that he should have chosen to attack someone from the same industry. Perhaps he was displaying some of the brashness of the rock music he played, as opposed to the more structured (and better mannered) tradition that Noor Jehan represented.

Perhaps Mr Azmat might ponder her longevity. She started her career, as singer and actress, well before Partition, and continued well after. In fact, at the stage where Mr Azmat is in his life, she was still very much active. It was only when she was physically incapable that she stopped singing professionally.

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Mr Azmat and his whole generation of rockers did not bring to PTV, or its audience, anything like the impact that Noor Jehan had. To mock her is to mock an entire tradition, not just of music, but also of cinema, a field to which Mr Azmat did not contribute. Perhaps Mr Azmat does not want his rant to be taken as a cry for attention by a has-been whose own career is over. Perhaps Mr Azmat might profit from Noor Jehan’s own example when, after so many decades of ruling the music industry, she was no longer able to contribute: she maintained a dignified silence. But then, she had a huge body of achievement, which could be left to speak for itself. Even his most diehard fan could not say the same about Mr Azmat.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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