LAHORE: The famous Patiala gharana of singers has ruled the world of music for decades, having complete command over the various fields of music. This family of singers is well recognised and admired all over the world in general, and in India and Pakistan in particular. They have achieved this distinction because of riaz (practice) and their special emphasis on the pronunciation of words, which are delivered keeping in mind the finest details. It was shocking beyond words to see Shafqat Amanat Ali sing the Pakistani national anthem at the recent World Twenty20 between India and Pakistan. Such a blunder on the part of one of the sons of the Patiala gharana was never expected. Ustad Amanat Ali Khan must be restless in his grave as nobody could have imagined that the son of such a great singer would perform so poorly. Even young schoolchildren speaking different mother tongues can sing the national anthem correctly without any pronunciation errors.
It is surprising how a singer of Shafqat’s status and standing could have made such errors. Maybe he was nervous or he took it too easy. Maybe he presented the national anthem before the large crowd without any practice. Whatever the case may be, our celebrities must keep in mind that when they perform outside of Pakistan, they are unofficial ambassadors of the country and every action is observed and noted. Any errors on their part make the whole nation ashamed.
In the past, our cricket “heroes”, on charges of match fixing, made us bow our heads in shame in front of the entire cricketing world.
On the other hand, Amitabh Bachchan, who by profession is not a singer, did complete justice to “Jana Gana Mana”, the national anthem of India. The anthem is in Bengali, which is not Amitabh’s mother tongue, but he presented it with national pride and the appropriate emotions of nationalism and patriotism. Additionally, during the national anthem, some of our cricket team members put their right hands on their chests — a tradition introduced by Ziaul Haq — as a mark of respect, whereas some opted to keep both of their hands open. It is the duty of the PCB to instruct team members on how to display deep respect and regard for the national anthem and the flag.
It is hoped that in the future, the management of such mega events will give due consideration to these details and instruct team members and performers accordingly, so that all present at such occasions behave and act in an appropriate and uniform manner.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2016.