Shua ke Sung - Sounds of Pakistan
By Tahir Ali
Shua Khan Arshad, a promising and upcoming local talent in the Boston area presented an unusual bouquet of popular Pakistani film songs, ghazals, folk and Sufi Kalaam, a style not normally experienced in the local music scene.
Hailing from Saudi Arabia, Shua also spent some time in Pakistan and Beligium. She has been in the US since 23 years. Shua excels in several languages and has captivated audiences in musical shows with her mesmerizing vocals, delivered in her own individual style and appearance.
In 2010 Pakistan was struck with its worst floods in 80 years. The flood - that left Pakistan in need of billions of dollars in aid from other countries – left millions of victims in need of food, shelter and aid to help restore their lives to normalcy.
A year later Sindh, a province of Pakistan, got hit by floods resulting in many deaths and affecting 5.3 million people. The flood water, like the media attention, may have long receded but expatriates aware of the dire needs of the flood victims manage to keep the aid coming in to help in any way they possibly are able to.
Shua in making reference to the floods thanked everyone for their support and announced that the proceeds of the event will go toward the Pakistan Flood Relief Fund.
Shua started the show with the famous ghazal “Aaj Jane ki zid na karo”. Her next two renditions of Tassavur Khanam’s – “tu meri zindagi hai ..” and “agar tum mil jaon zamana chor deinge hum”– set the mood for the rest of the evening. Shua managed to amuse the audience when she imitated Tassavur Khanum’s famous style [adaa] during the song.
Keeping right on the ghazal track she sang Bahadur Shah Zafar’s popular ghazals - “baat karni mujhe mushkil kabhi aisee to na thi” and “Ja kahiyo unse Naseem-e-Sehr mera chein gya meri neendh gayi.”
Among the top choices were those ghazals that were originally sung by Mehdi Hassan. She invited her own teacher, Pradeep Shukla, to sing a few ghazals.
Shua introduced Pradeep as her teacher, “I have started taking singing lessons from Pradeep Shukla Sahib, my ustaad. When I met him, he said that I only need six months of training. He told me that I have it. All my life I heard from family and friends that I have the voice, and with his help I put it to use.”
Pradeep Shukla sang Nasir Kazmi’s ghazal - “Wo dil nawaz hai lekin nazar shanaas nahi” . His facial expression - as he was singing – was proof enough that he was enjoying it and was completely immersed in the ghazal.
Guest artiste Salman Dar’s two famous ghazals sung by Mehdi Hassan were right up there: “Mujhe tum nazar se girahto rahe ho” and “Nawazish karam shukria maharbani”
Siraj welcomed the ghazals and commented that this was a great tribute to Mehdi Hassan, who is fighting for his life in a hospital in Pakistan.
The next guest artiste, Sanchi Mukherjee who sang “Haar Gayi haar gayi” from the movie Bara Baje, was introduced by Siraj and mentioned that her voice is very close to Nishi Kumari who sang the original song 50 years ago. Sanchi set the mood for rock, joined by Jojo Roy on the guitar, and rocked the audience with Pakistan’s Junoon song “Sayyoni”. Later, Shua and Sanchi sang Alamgir’s “Keh Dena”
Shua had promised Sufi kalam and she took the audience to a spiritual level as she sang Abida Parveen’s Raqs-e-Bismil – dance of the wounded. Her other sufi kalaams were an instant hit as well: Tumse Hi Thay Dhage Jude, TumseHi Thay Ye Silsile and “Allah Hoo.”
She continued on this spiritual journey with renditions from Nusrat Fateh Ali and a beautiful Persian Dari song - Bibi sanam janem, anaar-e-sisstanem - originally sung by Zeb and Hania. Shua also sang one of Junaid Jamshed’s hit songs: Aitbaar bhi aayeejai ga - chalo to sahi aithbaar aayeejaiga. The musical evening ended with Shua’s singing “Shabaz Qalandar”.
Shua was accompanied by Shripad Jail on the tabla and Chris Pereji on the keyboard and harmonium.
When Shripad pounded his fingers and palms on the tabla all eyes and ears in the audience turned on Shripad. The attendees swayed back and forth with the tabla beat.
Chris Pereji on the keyboard joined in with Shripad and both of them filled the hall with lively beats and enchanting rhythms. Shripad enjoys performing live. Today was no exception as he enjoyed keeping up with Shua.
Shua have participated in Boston Sargam competition in 2010 and was awarded the second place. She has also performed in many local shows - Geeta Dutt, O.P.Nayyar Nite - to name a few. Shua also maintains an active life in her community in Groton, being a member of the Interfaith Council.
The audience really enjoyed Shua's exclusive debut musical presentation, especially because there was something for everyone – a ray of hope and sunshine, as Javed Zaidi of Bazm-e-Adab recited a dedication spontaneously:
Mizaj-e-Shua roshan hai yehee wajah-e-zindagi hai
hamara hai imaan zaidi naghma-o-rang-o-bu bandagi hai
Siraj Khan, the organizer (who also contributed to the article), thought out loud: "We can speculate from her previous year’s performances that we will be seeing Shua more during this year."