There’s something about architectural spaces steeped in history, as is Yusuf Salahuddin’s famed haveli in the Barood Khana district. But if the guest of honour is the legendary Reshma, then the sound of music in endemic even the barest of movements and pain echoes through the silent walls.
The fact that this event (organised by J&S) was celebrating what can possibly be Reshma’s last video and album further blanketed the evening in a thick shroud of poignancy.
Glasses clinked merrily as Reshma sat, a quite presence, observing friends, fellow musicians and technicians cheer this epic achievement. “I can’t talk much beta,” she explained. “I just had my medicine.
“It was out of love for all these people who are here today that I have come, in spite of my ill health,” her voice cracked heavy with emotion, truly in awe of the crowd gathered around her beseeching her for a photograph.
Noman, a young upcoming talent and the voice behind the Bollywood hit “Mein Chala”, fell instantly to Reshma’s feet. “I love her!” he said, mesmerised. “She’s one of those people who are inspiration for an entire generation. I try to imitate the passion and pain in her voice in my own signing.”
Interior designer Omar Nabi recalled when his grandfather was ill and Reshma had come to see him — he had apparently demanded that she sing for him. “The whole house was reverberating with her voice. It felt like someone had put on loud music. It was just mind blowing. I was 12 years old then.”
Young and old alike were in rapture just at the sight of the living legend. Unable to resist the lure of her own new track “Hath Jore Niyan” playing in the background alongside the video (being projected on screens dotting the haveli), Reshma began singing live, and the crowd ran towards her, cell phones and cameras in hand, to capture the historic moment.
Atif, one of the band members of percussion band Quadrum, ran to her feet, dislodged the necklace around his neck and offered it to Reshma who instantly wore the keepsake. It was gestures such as these that spoke volumes of the far reaching and profound effects of her work.
Izzat Majeed of Sachal Studios (responsible for creating and releasing the video) stood at the side, euphoric. “Look at her! She’s still so beautiful,” he beamed at his friend Yusuf Salahuddin, who has been actively working on bringing folk artists back to main stream culture.
Apart from hosting a show on PTV that recreates the magic of yore, he has single-handedly propelled the careers of many forgotten stars. His next project, he says, will be Farida Khanum and he will still try to push for another video from Reshma if possible. “I’ve decided that from now on all my videos will follow this pattern,” he spoke resolutely. “They should be something that resonate our culture, that everyone can relate to and a middle class family can watch together.”
The video currently sports a very traditional Punjabi look and features upcoming actress, Zaria, pining away for her lover. It’s simple and straightforward, without any artifice and captures the anguish in Reshma’s lyrics perfectly.
“The song “Hath Jore Niyan” was my favourite so I was thrilled when I was asked by Sohail Javaid, the director, to become the lead. I didn’t know if I would be able to do justice to the song, but Sohail Sahib told me to tap whatever is in my heart and I tried my best to portray that,” spoke Zaria, who fits the bill perfectly with her flawless skin and large almond shaped dreamy eyes.
“Her video has created history,” Salahuddin informed me. “Mahesh Bhatt called to say that he was blown away by the video and noted the fact that Hindustan doesn’t do such kind of work anymore.”
Despite her ill health, her voice surges across airwaves. “Hath Jore Niyan” has been playing on all major television networks, including news channels, since its launch.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2011.