Alamgir: Late honours for a legend

Set to receive the Pride of Performance award, Alamgir discusses his struggle for financial and medical help.

Rafay Mahmood March 22, 2012


Pakistan Day this year will be a special one for the fans of Alamgir, popularly known as the ‘Elvis of the East’, who will be awarded the Pride of Performance at the President’s House in Islamabad. Decades of sheer hard work and passion for music have paid off as the government finally recognises the efforts of the pop legend whose contribution to the country’s music is immeasurable.

The 80’s singer’s recent comeback to mainstream music scene with a revamped version of “Keh Dena” with Kristie Yung not only made his fans nostalgic but also reminded them of what the maestro is capable of. His popularity was proven by the over 260,000 hits the official channel of his video on YouTube received in just a month’s time. Next in the pipeline is a new patriotic number with the legendary singing trio Benjamin Sisters.

A rough ride

However, despite the success of his latest single, all’s not well at Alamgir’s end. The singer was diagnosed with complete renal failure in 2004 and has been undergoing regular dialysis for the past few years. Although the issue has been taken up by some fans, who have made cause groups on Facebook and formed organisations to collect donations, the pop legend still needs financial help.

The singer, who lives with his family in Atlanta, Georgia, recently came back to Pakistan and has been making appearances on local morning shows in a bid to muster support from fans and authorities for his medical condition. “Although I am on a five-year waiting list in the US, two of my fans in the US have already consented to donate a kidney to help me,” said Alamgir in a morning show on PTV Home. However, the singer clarified that there is no confirmation whether their kidneys will be the right match. Other than worrying about finding a kidney match, the singer is also concerned about the cost of a transplant — which amounts to a whopping $60,000.

Promise of hope

The authorities, however, haven’t disappointed the artist. “I’ll try to help you out in whatever way possible,” said Dr Sagheer Ahmed, Provincial Health Minister of Sindh during a live call in a morning show. When asked whether he will be able to involve the federal government in this case, Ahmed replied, “I’ll try to do that. Additionally, I will see how the Khidmat-e-Khalq foundation can help you.”

Meanwhile, director of Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplant (SIUT) Dr Adib Rizvi also seemed optimistic about Alamgir’s treatment. “I understand that the process of finding the right donor is a long and hard one but there are so many hospitals in Karachi with many people willing to donate. I don’t think it will be a problem to find a kidney donor,” he said while sitting next to Alamgir in a morning show. Rizvi also agreed to give out details regarding Alamgir’s kidney match in order to facilitate the process of attracting willing donors.

Additionally, many artists are planning to collaborate to play at a series of fund raising concerts around the country with Alamgir. This widespread interest from the media and authorities has set the ball rolling and hopefully the singer will soon have some viable solution to his problem.

Legendary musicians with Pride of Performance

Allan Fakir – 1980

Allan Fakir, a Pakistani folk singer, is one of the most well-known names in the Sufi genre. He was particularly known for his lively style of performance — marked with Sufi dancing and animated facial expressions. One of his famous songs is a duet with Mohammed Ali Shyhaki, “Allah Allah Kar Bhaiya”, which was a big hit and increased his popularity in mainstream music industry tremendously.

Abida Parveen – 1982

Abida Parveen is a Pakistani singer of Sindhi descent and one of the foremost exponents of Sufi music. Parveen sings in Urdu, Sindhi, Seraiki, Punjabi and Persian, and together with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is considered one of the finest Sufi vocalists of the modern era. She received the award of Pride of Performance in 1982 and Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 2005.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – 1986

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was primarily a singer of qawwali, who managed to gain unprecedented success at local, as well as international level. He reached out to Western audiences with a couple of fusion records produced by Canadian guitarist Michael Brook. In 1995, he collaborated with Eddie Vedder on the soundtrack of Dead Man Walking.

Nazia Hassan – 2002

She was an iconic first Pakistani pop singer. Her song “Aap Jaisa Koi” from the Indian film Qurbani made her a legend and pop icon in all of South Asia in the 1980s. The singer, who was also known to have redefined the pop genre, managed to sell over 55 million copies worldwide. Sadly, did not live to receive her Pride of Performance award in 2002.


Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2012.


Bina | 9 years ago | Reply

@Balma: Not just Runa Laila, Ahmed Rushdi and Sohail Rana had introduced pop music way before. But if you are talking about a POP STAR, it involves more than singing, It involves youth, dressing style, music videos, peppy beats and everything that goes into making a person an icon. And truly Nazia Hassan was the first teenage ICONIC POP STAR in that sense.

Fauzia Mussarat | 9 years ago | Reply

We're not hero worshiping Nation, and there are alot going through similar situation in life.

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