The Folk Smith

Arif Lohar,a popular name in the Pakistani folk scene,will perform in Delhi on October 11.

Written by Suanshu Khurana | Published: September 11, 2012 12:14:42 am

Arif Lohar,a popular name in the Pakistani folk scene,will perform in Delhi on October 11

Much before cult television show Coke Studio made its Indian debut on MTV,a video floating around YouTube grabbed attention by registering more than five million hits. An unshaven,plump man with long locks,played a chimta and crooned Jugni — a never-heard-before version

of the famous traditional Punjabi song — in his deep voice.

The drums,guitars,dholaks and keyboard joined the chimta,along with some oomph thrown in by singer Meesha Shafi,whose red lipstick was as unmistakable as her wonderful voice. The result — a track that had people on both sides of the border bonding on social networking sites. Recently,we heard a polished version of the song in Homi Adajania’s film,Cocktail. Lohar will be in Delhi on October 11 for a performance organised by ICCR in collaboration with the Delhi-based organisation,Routes 2 Roots.

“I come from a low-caste lohar family. My ancestors used to be blacksmiths for the Mughals. But it was my father,Alam Lohar,who made a name for himself by singing Sufiana qalam. I sing for Allah and I hope people in Delhi will enjoy my performance. Yahan ke logon ne hamesha izzat hi baqshi hai (People here have always showered me with respect),” says Arif,adding that besides Jugni,his list for the Delhi performance includes folk numbers and Sufi qalams.

Arif grew up in Lalamusa,a small town in Pakistan’s Gujarat province,150 km away from Islamabad,listening to his father’s music. He says that it took some time for the people of his region to warm up to the idea of a lohar singing in praise of God. Arif loved the sound of the chimta and remembers fiddling with it for years before perfecting it. It was folk music and the earthiness of it that had him hooked. “A folk singer is born,You can’t make a folk singer,” says Arif.

“The artiste community has requested the government many times but obtaining a visa is a huge issue,” says Arif,who had to record Jugni for Cocktail in Lahore and send it to music director Pritam Chakraborty’s office online. Though he is fine with the “e-exchange”,Arif feels that recording in the presence of music director is a more rewarding experience for a vocalist.

Arif Lohar will perform at Siri Fort auditorium on October 11

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