He stumbled upon his love of music in college and since then he has never really looked back. Rahim Khan, a lawyer by profession, sang his first song in Nishtar Hall, “Da Zama Pa Tamasha Wa” (She Was Looking At Me With Love) in 1991 in a grand show organised by Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF).
The song kick-started his career and pushed him into the limelight. He started participating regularly in PTV Pashto language programme, remixed an Afghani song “Khumar” and went on to record his very first original track “Lambay” in 2007 which became big hit on Deva radio. “Music is a complete therapeutic for me. It makes me explore my inner strength and makes me want to keep trying,” says the singer.
En route to success
Rahim also featured in a string of television shows and live performances in Peshawar, Islamabad and other parts of the country. One of his songs, “Khudaya”, was even picked up by Mehreen Jabbar to be the theme song of her TV drama “Daam”.
In 2011, the singer was specially invited to perform for Ayesha Alam Khan’s intellectual platform The Knowledge Factory on its inaugural night in Lahore. Rahim sang “Lambay” and “Khumar” with passion and was lauded by audiences. The singer, who is the unsung hero of the Pashto industry, says, “I try not to be inspired by anyone, rather I want people to be inspired by my journey and the obstacles I had to overcome to achieve my goal. But as far as music favourites are concerned, I like listening to songs by Junaid Jamshed and Michael Jackson,” Rahim told to The Express Tribune.
The artist expressed displeasure over the fact that the music community always associates traditional dances such as Khattak with Pashtuns who are trying so hard to modernise. “Music is synonymous to life and it should be beyond culture and beyond the tabla and the rabab. Pashto players have been kept limited only to Khattak dance, rabab and mangay. The Pashtun should not let people frame them,” says Rahim.
Pashtun against music
When asked what Pashtun society thinks about a singer, Rahim repeats Ghani Baba’s famous saying that, “‘The Pathans love music but hate the musician’.” He adds, “It is hypocrisy and only education can change this way of thinking/mindset.”
Expressing his views about the current Pashto music industry he states, “Pashto music is currently the hot topic in the music industry of Pakistan as a number of national singers like Hadiqa Kiani, Naseebo Lal, Fariha Pervaiz and other have attempted to sing in Pashto.”
Rahim says that the Pakhtuns are by nature a talented clan especially the girls and he believes that rudimentary education can help polish their skills. “The government of K-P should declare education emergency in our province, especially for women. Education and knowledge will definitely bring a positive change in our society.” The singer cites his own example, and says that he is blessed to have parents who convinced him that education is the bridge to everything good.
The way I like it
Rahim prefers performing live in front of an interactive audience instead of recording in the closed confines of a recording studio. “If I were not a musician, I would have been nothing since music is everything for me.”
In Pakistan and especially in Pashto music industry there is no concept of copyrights protection, which is why hit songs of one singer are immediately on another artist’s lips. “I believe in originality and I believe the copyrights of every singer and composer must be protected by law,” stresses the artist. “Pashto music has been corrupted by the commercial aspect that has seeped into the industry.”
Currently, Khan is recording his soon-to-be-released song “Meena” (Love). The singer who pens the lyrics and composes the tunes of his songs himself, says, “I want to promote Pashto music in Pakistan and in the western part of the word. I aim to modernise Pashto music by incorporating jazz, hip hop, rock and roll into it,” states Rahim.
He reveals that he will revamp and perform Ghani Baba, Hamza Baba and Rahman Baba’s poetry.
“I want to sing for people. I want to see the pen and the guitar in the youth’s hands instead of bombs and Kalashnikov. Such light-hearted and creative entertainment will prove to be a respite for the people in such politically troubled times,” he concludes.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2012.
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