Folk Singer Zahid Jhanvri Speaks About His Journey, Govt's Neglect

Folk Singer Zahid Jhanvri Speaks About His Journey, Govt's Neglect
"You can never be a complete singer; it requires more than one life to become a complete singer", says Zahid Hussain Jhanvri, a talented Sindhi singer of yesteryear now residing in the outskirts of Pidedan, a small town of Naushahro Feroze, and living a life of anonymity.

Despite being ignored by the authorities concerned, mainly the culture department, his love and affinity for music has not diminished.

Jhanvri, who is known in the locality as Ustad Zahid and Mama Zahid, had once mesmerised a team of Pakistan Television and Radio Pakistan, Khairpur with his magical voice that he gained with constant efforts and practice.

He was born in the village of Muhammad Khan Jhanvri, taluka Thari Mirwah of Khairpur Mirs district, but later, on his family migrated to Pidedan town. This scribe listened to him singing in a marriage ceremony in Pidedan and was so inspired by his voice that he decided to interview him.

The 52-year-old singer seemed displeased over the indifferent attitude of the culture department towards most of the Sindhi singers, especially those who have been promoting classical and folk music.

"We are not invited to sing at local shrines or even at the mega musical event organised during the annual Urs of Lal Shahbaz Qalander'', he said.

He added that this neglect by the department concerned is not a good omen for classical music in Sindh.

Sharing his thoughts about his journey, Jhanvri said that he has been associated with music for the past 37 years. "I was 15 when after being motivated by my uncle Nazar Muhammad, l began to play dholak and kept playing it for around 10 years. Later on, I realised that I can sing too".

He further said that Abdul Hameed Rajpar became his first music teacher, followed by Ustad Gulzar Ali Khan.

"My music teachers introduced me to different aspects of melody and music composition, now I can play different musical instruments including harmonium, traditional Sindhi instrument Algoza (woodwind), tabla and baja".

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Jhanvri shared that he composed music and sung poetry of less known poets of Sindh on Radio Pakistan Khairpur, besides singing the verses of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sheikh Ayaz, and Ustad Bukhari.

"In 2001, I appeared on PTV and cleared the music test in a A-class category. The jury sitting there was impressed with my singing skills and knowledge about the music."

He recalled one of the jury members saying, "We need singers like you to promote classical and folk music".

After being disappointed and dissatisfied with the government, the septuagenarian singer established a music institute in his town, where more than 25 vocalists are currently being trained.

"I don't force my students to pay fees; they give me what they want, my only aim is to promote real music and decent poetry and to prevent young singers from singing lewd poetry", he said.

Talking about his favourite singers, Jhanvri said he feels really attached with Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali, Waheed Ali Khan, Manzoor Ali Khan, and Abida Parveen.

Recalling an emotional event, he said that a German tourist once visited his music academy, he sang a ghazal of Mehdi Hassan, ' Zindagi Mein To Sabhi Pyar Kiya Karte Hain', and when he ended it, he saw the tourist in tears.

Advocate Faiz Ahmed Jhanvri, who arranged a meeting of the author with Zahid Jhanvri, said that singers like Zahid need the patronage of the Sindh government, especially the culture department.

He urged Culture Minister Syed Sardar Ali Shah to launch a platform to promote singers of remote areas of Sindh, and issue monthly stipends for their financial uplift.

The author is a practicing lawyer and freelance journalist. His areas of interest are cultural diversity and socio-political issues of Sindh.