By Sher Alam Shinwari
courtesy : Khyber Watch
PESHAWAR: Popular Pashto singer Gulzar Alam has pledged to donate to flood affectees fifty percent of money earned from his new album to be released on the coming Eid.
Gulzar Alam had made his debut in early 90s and shot to unprecedented fame when he sang revolutionary poems of Rahmat Shah Sail and Ghani Khan laden with Pashtun nationalistic emotions blended with romantic thoughts. Hailing from a music family in Peshawar he received proper training and learnt delicacies from great music maestros late Rafiq Shinwari and Ghulam Ali both in classical and light ghazal singing. He has released more than 800 albums and played back signing in 400 Pashto movies. He has performed on numerous TV, stage and radio shows and has represented Pakistan in USA, UK, Gulf Countries, Afghanistan, Germany and Belgium on many occasions.
Gulzar Alam is the recipient of 600 awards and certificates from various literary and cultural organizations in recognition to his tremendous contribution to Pashto music. Talking to this scribe he says that he recently recorded a Pashto album ‘Shamay’ (Candles) after a lapse of five years in order to renew his traditional style which was eclipsed earlier due to too much commercialism and substandard contents. “It was my sheer compulsion owing to popular market demand and financial constraints. Once you sign a contract with a sponsor or financier then you cannot go back on it. My financial worries doubled when MMA government imposed ban on all kinds of cultural activities in Peshawar, I was forced to give up the profession.
I used to receive threats from militants. Some unknown militants even sprayed my car with bullets but I survived life attempt. I settled in Karachi with only option left to drive a taxi and for three years I was I taxi driver. After ANP led government came into power I was offered safety, free stay and a decent job. I came back to Peshawar along with my family way back in March 2009,” Gulzar recalls. Born in Ramdaz, Peshawar Gulzar Alam did his graduation from Peshawar University and most often he used to take part in singing competitions held at College.
He says that he wanted to do something for the flood affectees including artistes and the best he could do was to record a Pashto album, fifty percent money earned from the project would go to the affected people.
“This album contains numbers of most popular poets Khushhal Khan Khattak, Rahmat Shah Sail, Ghani Khan, Khatir Afridi, Abdur Rauf Zahid, and Prof Dr Sahib Shah Sabir. I have selected unsung and unique verses from these great poets and I am sure once the album zoom s out it will make a record business because after a very long time listeners and especially my fans which run in millions will get quality music with standard content. Nazir Gul ustad has arranged its music composition; I have used traditional Pashto orchestra –rabab, harmonium, tabla with electronic instruments like saxophone, keyboard, base guitar and clarinet to add modern flavour to it” he explains. Pashto music he says has changed over the years and many young singers appeared on the music scene but ‘it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, he observes. “I advise the new comers to get proper training from a music ustad and then plunge into the era. Good music arrangement, fine voice and quality content always give perfect results. It is I believe is a social contribution to the art and to the public taste,” Gulzar maintains.
He adds he is ready for free charity shows for the welfare of the artistes and singers. “I have always been taking in charity services once I did an album and donated the whole amount round about .5 million for the treatment of a cancer patient a fine guitar player. By the grace of Allah he still walks around hale and healthy. I appeal to the high-ups of the cultural institutions, charity organizations and my artiste’s community at large to come forward for the timely help and assistance of flood affected people,” Gulzar supplicate.