August 18 marks the 27th death anniversary of Sindh's versatile singer Syed Suleman Shah who became famous as Sain Suleman among his colleagues and fans.
It is quite unfortunate that despite contributing significantly to Pakistan's vernacular music industry the late singer remained highly underrated, particularly after his death.
Shah was born in a religious family in the village Tarr Khowaja of district Sujawal and after his birth, his family migrated to Mirpur Bathoro where he spent his childhood. At a very young age, he realised his multidimensional skills and moved to Karachi.
His affiliation with a religious family initially halted his way to showbiz but later he proved his mettle and went on to become a famous folk singer, dancer, and actor in Sindh during the 1970s and 1980s.
After reaching Karachi he received basic music training and was introduced on Radio Pakistan by Khuwaja Imdad Ali, while Abdul Karim Baloch gave him a chance on Pakistan Television in 1970. The highly skillful artist was a magnificent singer and dancer, he could sing and dance at the same time by wearing anklets.
According to seasoned host and broadcaster Naseer Mirza, Syed Suleman Shah would also talk with the audience funnily while singing and owing to his multiple qualities he was known as a crowd-puller among his fellow singers. He further said that Ustad Bachu Sheikh was Syed Suleman Shah's first music trainer and was also a fabulous dancer who taught Shah of the basic principles of folk singing. He also taught him how to manage his breathing while singing and dancing on the stage in front of a massive crowd.
One of his visually impaired friends Sher Muhammad Jammari from Sujawal said that Shah also gained fame following his unique dressing style. The septuagenarian singer, he said had a heartfelt affiliation with his friend and other relatives and would frequently visit Mirpur Bathoro during his days of fame.
When the Sindhi film industry was at its peak he acted in over a dozen Sindhi movies and also lent his voice in those movies. His famous movies include Umer Marvi, Shah Feroz, Chandoki and Noori Jam Tamachi.
The song that earned him countrywide fame was a Saraiki song Asan Kun Ishq Marenda Dholan Wal Wal Qatal Karenda. The eminent singer sang songs in Sindhi, Urdu, Saraiki Gujrati, Punjabi, and Dhatki language.
Senior PTV actor Rafique Essani said that Suleman Shah was one of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's favourite Sindhi singers besides Raubina Qureshi and Mahi Baghi. The former PM Zulfikar Bhutto also invited him to sing in front of foreign dignitaries during his government.
The prominent singer performed in countries like Turkey, London USA, and Singapore. His famous songs include Peren Pawandi San, Suhinha Pahenji Akhiyan Khe Jal Tun, Asan Kun Ishq Marenda and Dil Tokhe Dahi.
In recognition of his services, he was bestowed with the Pride of Performance and Shah Latif Award. The iconic folk singer left this world on August 18 1996, and is buried in a local graveyard of Lyari in Karachi. The singer since his death is less discussed in national and local media but he was a glittering name in Pakistan's music industry and this is the first-ever article written about his contributions in English.