The Benjamin Sisters Phenomenon

Posted on December 17, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Music, People, TV, Movies & Theatre
41 Comments
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Adil Najam

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.

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41 responses to “The Benjamin Sisters Phenomenon”

  1. b bano says:

    I think the ultimate word on the Benjamin Sisters was said one of the sketches in Silver Jubilee itself.
    It was the programme where Sabri brothers were guests (remember their long hair?).
    Well, they turned up for the show with brand new (short).
    haircuts…
    Sketch went something like this,
    Q:_”Woh bayi, maine suna ke Sabri brothers en baal katwa liye hain?”
    A: “Han woh bahut pareshaN thhe, jabhee mahalle me nikalte thhe to log yahi kaha karte thhe, -Benjamin sisters jaa rahin hain, Benjamin sisters jaa rahin Hain…”

    P.S. I have a Silver Jubilee cassette that mixes songs with sketches.

  2. Rafay Kashmiri says:

    Ayesha,

    Of course it is gossip mongering, and you have all
    the registered rights to indulge in it, time to time, nothing
    harmful so far, I have just sent an e-mail to Madame
    and the reply is :

    I swear upon Tahera Sayyed that I have never hindered
    any time the Benjamin mothers of today. To whome it may
    concern.

  3. Rafay Kashmiri says:

    Beena Banjamin,
    since your group was basically dicovered with TV, probly late
    60s or early 70s, although that period when our music
    started to convert to electric organ, guitar, bongos, electric
    pianos, was a bit strange for a staunch classical and semi classical, & thumris, Ghazals fanatic like myself, but indeed,the songs that you girls had chosen was very cleverly selected, the bests among the most popular, thats it.
    Nice hearing from you beena, Pakistan zindabad

  4. ayesha sajid says:

    This is really embaressing for me to ask at this forum and i know some people may take this for gossip mongering but maybe some one will put this to rest for me once and for all ….

    as teens we were all great fans of Benjamin Sisters but later on I heard that Madam Noor Jehan ( pls no offence to her memory or her status as a legend ) was a little annoyed with the sisters for copying her songs and getting fame from them. It was also heard that she had a bit to do with them being banned from the television.
    True or false ??

    ( I have my fingers crossed for being bashed on this forum !)

  5. beena benjamin says:

    dear all,
    it was a pleasure looking at the comments our fans have made to us.well for your information, i am beena benjamin,one of the benjamin sisters. Iam the one who got married and went to canada, the eldest nerissa is in pakistan and shabana is in dubai. we miss our singing and we know there are lots of people who like and adore our singing and want us to come back, but this is not possible as now nerissa and shabana are busy with their household activities and im working in a reputable tv channel. Anyways i think this is enough for today. Once again thanks to all our fans out there, hope to see ur comments on and off on this page.

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