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Vital notes on Pakistani Music and its Signs in India

Vital Signs, the pioneer of Popular music in Pakistan had its first hit 'Dil Dil Pakistan' in early 90s. It was such a wonderful song that it became an unofficial anthem for Pakistanis all over the world. It was so good that India had to respond with the song Dil Dil Hindustan composed for some c grade Hindi film.
Rohail Hyatt from this band gave the wonderful background score for the film Khuda ke liye.

Shoaib Mansoor, director of the film Khuda Ke Liye, too was associated with Vital Signs as he wrote and composed the songs like 'Dil Dil Pakistan' for the band.


Vital Signs proved vital in the growth of popular music in Pakistan and thereby in India. Salman Ahmed left Vital Signs and went on to form the legendry 'Sufi-Rock band' Junoon along with Ali Azmat and another former member of Vital Signs, Nusrat Hussain. They became famous in India for the song Sayonee from their album Azadi (Freedom). Salman Ahmed was at his best playing guitar for the song Khudi from the album. Parvaaz, the fifth studio album by Junoon, didn’t take off well in India because it wasn’t marketed enough and because even music lovers were worried about the Kargil War. I bought this album right when the nation was busy with Operation Parakram. It remains the best album by Junoon. On the cover of the album was a note of thanks from the band, to among others, someone named Vatsala Kaul. It was an unusual tale of friendship between a Pakistani musician and an Indian journalist.


Another name that comes to my mind is Junaid Jamshed, one more ex-member of Vital Signs. His 1999 album Us Rah Par (On that path) was released in India but due to timing of its release suffered the same fate as that of Parvaaz.
I read that he has completely left singing the popular music and become more religious. Now in his melodious thick voice he sings Haamd and Naat


One more name from the 90s that I remember is Shehzad Roy. He had a great voice and an even greater hair, and the ensuring fame led him to do Shampoo Ads and some charity work through the NGO called Zindagi Trust. He was among the first to work with Indian musicians. He sang with Indian pop artists like Sukhbir and Shaan.


String, the band comprising Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia, had their first hit in early 90s with the song Sar kiye yeh pahad. The song had U2 written all over it. It was their tribute to I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. And their music or rather the sound still remains inspired by U2. Their album Duur, the one that made them popular in India, had songs composed by Bilal Maqsood’s father Anwar Maqsood, a multifaceted veteran of PTV known for having written scripts of many popular Drama Series.


I didn't think much of music by Ali Haider , wasn't my kind of music. But, India went crazy wearing his purani jeans. The fellow even worked on Pakistani Television, in one drama series he played an aspiring musician.


I also remember Abrar-ul-Haq, the favorite of Pakistani eve-teasers, who sang about going to Billo’s house asking around if anyone else was interested. Who would have thought that he  runs a tax-exempt charity organization called SAHARA that promotes health and education. Abrar-ul-Haq is also known for his Collaboration with Indian Punbaji actor - folksinger Gurdas Mann, the man with dafli.


I also remember Arif Lohar, the man with the chimta . The jugni singer is a very popular punjabi folk singer from Pakistan. He visited India for the first time only last year and was a big hit.


Hadiqa who shot to fame with her Punjabi folky pop song Boohey Barian. For some strange reason ( I think it was the video) people assumed that it was a kashmiri folk song. The song became so popular that someone in India had to copy it and include it in a forgettable Hindi film.


More recently, the band that comes to my mind is: Zeest of BC Sutta fame. Rumors in India were to claim the band as Indian.


The last Pakistani band that I liked was Fuzon. Bad band name but good music. 


Some obvious omissions:

Jal/Atif Aslam of Aadat fame

Reshma of Lambi Judai fame. Balwant Garg in his semi-autobiography novel The Purple Moonlight wrote a few lines about her . He painted her as a money hungry women with a genuinely soul touching thunderous voice.

Salma Agha , the green eyed woman of Dil ke Armaan fame who starred and sang in a few forgettable Indian films of the 80s.


  1. Shafqat Amanat Ali of Fuzon is a good singer. Really accomplished - as seen from his number "Khamaj". But, dear God, couldn't they have picked a better name for their band?!
    Great blog, yours. Kudos.

  2. True, when I first heard their name (without having heard their music) I decided not to hear them. Then a friend of mine pointed out that (by then already) famous track to me.
    Thanks for the nice comment!


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