Jugni, Bulleh Shah, Rabbi and Junoon

Posted on August 4, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Culture & Heritage, Music, People, Poetry
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Adil Najam

I am breaking a lot of my own rules with this post.

First, part of this could easily have been a comment on an earlier post; but I thought it deserved its own space. Second, part of this is not exactly about Pakistan; but it is very relevant to Pakistan. Third, I am putting in three video clips with this, which is excessive, but hopefully justified in this case.

Let me first say something about the two less important videos, which are really by way of an update to the earlier ATP post on Bulleh Shah, Rabbi Shergill and Junoon.

Now, for the real inspiration for this post. The third video. This is also by Rabbi Shergill and is based on the traditional Punjabi poetry form of the Jugni. I am a fan of teh ‘Jugni’ genre and I that is how I got to this.

The lyrics are mesmerizing. He has ‘Jugni’ as a young modern Indian girl who goes out to ‘discover’ her country (India). And she ‘visits’ Kashmir, Punjab, Mumbai and Delhi and reports on the travails of existence in each. It is a ballad about modern India, and a very good one. But it could as easily have been a ballad about challenges of existence anywhere in South Asia, including Pakistan, and that is why I am posting it on ATP.

Click on arrow at center, or view it directly here:

Rabbi Shergill – Jugni

Two sections are of particular relevance. First, when she gets to Kashmir, he says:

Jugni jaa waRRi Kashmir
jithay roz marraN das vee
sooni-yan behnan day sohnay veer
oo roo roo puchan,
kiya jhagRa kai-yoN mukna vey
jadouN Jehlum paani sukhna

[Jugni walked into Kashmir
where everyten or twenty die
beautiful sister’s wonderful brothers
and they cry out to ask
when is this conflict going to end
when the waters of Jehlum run dry]

The second selection that is relevant to ATP is the narration when Jugni gets into the Punjab (especially to all us par desi-Pakistanis):

Jugni jaa waRi Punjab
jithay parhay likhay be-kaar
Waich zameenaN jaa-one baaar
uthay maaRaN jhaRRo
Uthay goori laiN we-aaa
pichay taBBar takan rah

[Jugni walked into the Punjab
where the educated stand unemployed
they sell their land to go abroad
and there they end up sweeping floors
they end up marrying a foreigner
while their families keep hoping for their return]

These, of course, are very rough translations and do not convey the intensity of the song, but hopefully they help those who do not speak the language. Anyhow, I hope you find the song as memorable as I do.

Meanwhile, here is the Junoon song Bulleyaa, that I promised. Click on arrow at center, or view it directly here:

Junoon – Bulleya

And here is the longer version of Rabbi’s Ki Janaan Mein Koun. Click on arrow at center, or view it directly here:

Bulla Ki Jaana Main Kaun

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16 responses to “Jugni, Bulleh Shah, Rabbi and Junoon”

  1. Naveed says:

    i would highly rate Rabbi’s Jugni exactly for the reasons that you have articulated, a modern take on a traditional genre….i have enjoyed rabbi’s album for the solid 3 tracks featured on it including Bulla. Adil, we are the remnants of a generation that grew up in an age when radio was still king. Our younger generation (majority of bloggers i would say) are much more creative but their their attention span has been impacted by the video.

    Attention has shifted from content to presentation. The debate on Rabbi (and even Ali Azmat) would be worthwhile if there are signs that they have taken up reading of Bulleh Shah. I do hope that people discover their roots, along with translations to explore the original beauty of the language…ages ago we discussed Ghulam Fariq’s”Meda Ishque vee toon” and this process started with radio and then later with PTV

    when the rains come down on Karachi, the spirit reverberates to sufi music & I have Pathanay Khan to thank for his mesmerizing “Mairay dhadhray saa tay moonjh monjharee, hunjo tay toofan vee toon” (you are my cries, my cold sighs, my restlessness, you are my relentless deluge of tears)

    So Rabbi should open our doors to these toothless scrawny unkempt sages the likes of Pathanay Khan because there is inate endearing pakistaniat about these native sons of our folk culture…

    PS – Watch out for a new sufi singer who was featured on Wasi Zaka’s “On The Fringe”. The guy’s name is Areeb. Either from Islamabad or Lahore. Spent 10+ years in former Yugoslavia in which he was in a band playing the local scene. Very strong vocals. Before I could blog about him, he has come out with his first Video & if I am not mistaken this is kafi by Ghulam Farid. Video is a little taxing for its optical illusions an effect that the artist could have done without which brings to my earlier comment about video overshadowing content. The locale is interestingly shot and could be “androon lahore”…The video has a caption indicating that it is from a recently launched album called “Wajj”

  2. Adil Najam says:

    Naveed. You keep adding to teh list of things I need to catch up on… I WILL look out for Wasi Zaka…..

    Agree entirely with you…… It is really the words that matter to me…. but as with teh MQB earlier with teh Nusrat Fateh Ali jazz fusion, I am learning from our younger friends the magic of simply music ….. On Pathana Khan, as you well know, I have been a die hard fan and groupie for ages and ages now and still find tht he has the ability to amaze me with music that I haev alraady heard not hundreds, but thousands of time….

    BTW, which is teh THIRD Rabbi track that you like……..

  3. Thanks for the updates !

    I agree with your comments on the Jugni genre- it is fascinating to see how it has been contemporarized by Rabbi.

    One of the very good renditions of the Jugni that I have heard is at a concert in Chandigarh by the Wadali brothers, not sure if a recording is available.

  4. Roshan Malik says:

    I liked Bullah by Rabbi than Junoon’s version.

    Areeb is from islamabad.I remember the evenings with Areeb at Civil Junction Cafe (Islamabad), where he used to perform the lyrics from Bullah and Khawja Ghulam Farid. He had very strong vocals and used to sing with great passion and involvement. Its pleasure to know that his album is released as he was working on it in Karachi, when i met him last time.

    @ Adil: I think Pathanay Khan was at the top when it comes to Kafi. Unfortunately, he could not get projection as compare to other singers of his age. He has mesmerizing effects on the listeners.

  5. sabizak says:

    err….Mr. Naveed, that’s Fasi Zaka, not Wasi. Fasi is absolutely brilliant and his show ‘On the Fringe’ is so amazing its hard to believe it runs on the same channel that mostly plays inanities the rest of the time. I would highly reccommend his latest article published in last Sunday’s ‘The News’

    http://jang.com.pk/thenews/jul2006-weekly/nos-30-0 7-2006/instep.htm#6

    Just scroll down until you get to the article ‘What’s in a name’

    Probably the third Rabbi song you may be referring to is ‘Tere Bin’?

    Btw Adil, this blog is sorely missing a proper post on Paki Pop, probably a later phenomenon, so many relative oldies here aren’t that into it? Dont know, just guessing.

  6. sabizak says:

    And i rather disagree with Mr. Naveed on the radio point. Radio is doing raging well in Pakistan at the moment with more and more channels jumping into the fray and many people get their doze of music from radios in their cars on channels like City FM89, Radio1, 91, FM100, 101 and the list goes on. Video did not necessarily kill the radio star.

  7. Owais Mughal says:

    I listened to Rabbi’s ‘bulha ki janaaN’ first when it was first posted here. Today when I heard Ali Azmat’s version, I found it so out of tune that I didn’t even finish it. May be it grows on you after few times but so far I think Rabbi’s version is much better. Feels like he is singing from the heart.

  8. Naveed says:

    Adil, on the contrary…it is your blog that is reminding me of things that I have to catch up on…Pathanay Khan being on top of the list….let me come-up with something for you….

    And I lied. There are more than 3 tracks that I like in the album. Tere Bin, Totia Manmotia :), Heer, Geet Hijar da, Jugni & Bulla

    Roshan – Thanks. Fasi Zaka interviewed Areeb in this bedroom & the room said a lot about his character…absence of any décor & siting arrangement on the floor…he did not look comfortable talking to Fasi but then again Fasi being a good interviwer asked him about the relevance of sufi music and that got the discussion started & the guy relazed a little….one truly does have to be a Sufi to sing and mean the lyrics like Areeb does…the impromptu lines that he sang for Fasi has all the signs that this guys is going to be a force to be reckoned with…i just hope he does not sell out

    Sabizak – Thanks for correcting me. It is indeed Fasi. …What I like about “On the Fringe” is that even though curse words are censored, you enjoy the conversation which at times is too daring for television in Pakistan….If Fasi does not like the way the interview is going you could see him corner the person being interviewed….

    You are absolutely correct that there has been a FM radio revolution but what i meant about Radio was about our own experiences & choices and we did not have many…we listened to AM Radio and on TV, airtime reserved for music was so little that only the top quality artists made it…for us, Tom & Jerry was on only for 5-minutes before the evening news. Today there is a channel that has cartoons on 24×7…we have more than 5 music channels…all this results in attention deficit, poor reading skills and ordinary speech laced with words borrowed from multiple languages….this is not unique to Pakistan…bridging of the digital divide & the onslaught of media has led to local cultures dying out…the younger generation yearning for the cool the sleek and our folk singers do not fit the bill as Roshan pointed out

    FM channels is proliferated with songs that have made it commercially thanks to music videos. I am not aware of any local pop music act that has not made a video but has got huge amount of airtime on…..FM is doing fantastically and will evolve into a potent force both for public awareness and entertainment

    “Relative Oldiesâ€

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