For many of us the 1980s talk-show Silver Jubilee was the very best of all of Anwar Maqsood’s television shows. And that is saying something given the many brilliants endeavors he was been part of. That the other maestro of Pakistan Television(PTV), Shoaib Mansoor, was the producer of this memorable series is another reason why.
The PTV show is memorable, most of all, for its selection of guests; especially for bringing back people from a bygone era of greats (Naeem Bokhari’s Yaadesh Bakhair was memorable for the same reason).
Another reason why it is memorable is because it launched the Benjamin Sisters phenomenon. This earnest trio was essentially brought in to simply re-render the great songs related to whoever was the guest that week. Over time, it was not just the songs but the Benjamin Sisters themselves who became the sensation.
There are some lessons to be learnt – not just about the performing arts but about life – from their success.
- First, and most important, they sang really really well; moreover, by just looking at them singing you can see that they worked really hard and were very serious about singing well. The lesson here is that performance matters, talent matters, and hard work matters.
- Second, in Anwar Maqsood and Shoaib Mansoor, they had two nurturing mentors. In a society where we are generally so insecure and unsure of ourselves that we are threatened by everyone else’s talents, here is a an example which shows that mentoring the talent of others not only gives them a break, it also makes you look better.
- Third, the selection of the songs they sang was truly remarkable. I do not know for sure but my sense is that Anwar Maqsood might have had the largest role in this selection. It is too simple to say that they pulled at our nostalgia chords. For some, they did. But for many, especially in my generation, they introduced the great music of an earlier generation. And, lo and behold, it plucked at our hearts as much as it had at our parents. The lesson here is that things that are crafted properly (in this case, songs) are timeless. This lesson – I would like to think – is applicable well beyond songs.
Since then, the sisters (at least two of them) disappeared. One heard they got married. I do not know where they are and Google did not give me any clues. If you know, do share. But wherever they are, I hope they are well and prosperous and happy.
All of this was triggered by a stash of recently-loaded Benjamin Sister songs I found on YouTube.
Included in this post are two particularly catchy melodies. Note also the other guests sitting there. A young Javed Miandad and an ageless Shabnam in the first, and an older Waheed Murad in the other.