Pre-post: Importing the following post from the old blog (click for a great discussion in comments on the state of Pashto music today).
I love my language, I love Pashto music (generally), I love my people (for the most part), and I’m a generally happy Pukhtana. So the post below isn’t an attempt at self-hatred or bashing my beeblez. Honestly, I love you all, I really do. BUT there are some things that I’m embarrassed by, and one of those is some really, really lame, stupid stuff that happens in Pukhto songs/music videos, especially the ones from the Pakistan side of the Durand Line. Most Pukhtuns would be embarrassed by them, really. These include:
1) the ridiculous dancing style of the damaan (men or women) … wait, lemme try to show this with a GIF. OMG MY FIRST GIF, YOU GUYS!!!
2) the embarrassingly whitened faces of the females (typical to South Asian, Middle Eastern cultures, depressingly. I’ve written about this before: Beauty Ideals in Pashto Music and just the overall role of the female in Pashto music). In the GIF below, note the difference between skin tone on the girl’s face and hands…
3) the “hey hey hey hey hey” in some otherwise good songs (like Pekhawar kho Pekhawar dey kana and my current most favorite Lewani mosam la yaara lewani kali ta raasha – seriously, why does the “hey hey hey hey” have to be there? That doesn’t go with Pukhto songs, losers. That style goes well with most Punjabi and some Urdu songs!)
4) the “lalalala” that somehow becomes “laralaralara” when a female singer’s singing it! Is it linguistically, phonetically impossible for a woman to say “lalala” in Pukhto? What’s the deal here, exactly?
5) the elongation of “kanaaaaaaaaaaa” (or “rashaaaaaaaa”) done by female singers like Nazia Iqbal and Sitara Younas et al – again, WHY!!! Maybe the music producers think it’s attractive to men? If so, what’s WRONG with men for liking this? Besides, what about us women? We don’t like it, okay? And we exist, and we matter, too, just like the men.
This song, Ghaley ghunde rasha, is a perfect example of the “hey hey hey” and “lara lara lalalala” and “a” at the end of words like “rasha” or “kana” – in other words, I can’t stand this song.
6) the complete sexualization of our women in these videos and songs (yes, yes, I know this is a universal issue, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it in the Pukhtun context alone)
7) autotune! Seriously? Why? Like here – that doesn’t at all sound like Nazia Iqbal’s voice; who are they tryina fool?
8) the way that our women and men dancers behave with each other onstage or onscreen. Indeed, we hate the musicians and the dancers, but we’re not ashamed of watching them do things that we find so … I don’t know, annoying, disgusting, indecent, etc., and we’d never let our own sisters/daughters/wives/other close female family members do any of those things, but we have NO problem getting pleasure out of the ones we see on screen…. assuming, here, that they don’t do these things out of choice. I’m a firm believer in choice, though, so if the women and men do these things per their own volition, that’s cool. We’re all at different places in life, and everyone does whatever they believe is right (or, in possible cases like these, whatever is necessary), and everyone’s trying to do whatever they can to survive, be happy, find their role and meaning of life, and so on, so whatever helps you rock your boat, that’s cool with the qrratu.
Here’s an example. Ugh, this Jahnagir guy makes me vomit.
9) all the stage performances have a typically all-male audience. WHY? Akhir waley?! Kyunnn?? Lesh?! Limaadha?! The few times you have women in there, who tend to sit in the front row seats, you can so easily tell that they are from the upper class only. Naghma points that out in her song “Pukhtun dey ka Afghan”) (she says while introducing the song and speaking on Pukhtun unity, “Dear brothers and sisters – albeit there are hardly any sisters here. I wish we’d give our women the right to enjoy these performances, too, and stop thinking it’s just for men’s pleasure” or something like that. I love this woman for so many reasons. Here’s a GIF from that performance:
10) I quote a friend / blog reader of mine here, verbatim because he put it all so well. And I am not going to post examples of what he’s talking about because I found a few, and they’re so indecent I don’t feel comfortable subjecting my readers, especially the non-Pashtun ones, to it all! (You might be interested in searching for them yourself – google literally any of Badar Muneer and Musarrat Shaheen films, for instance.) To quote my friend:
“OK, saw your gifs you are missing at least 2 classic moves… the Extra-Healthy-Stork-Crotch-Close-Up pose. The woman side pose stand, with the facing leg lifted (foot to the knee or as close has humanly possible with all that extra-health), close up to the upper thigh(along with a thunderous boom), as the foot goes down the shot pans out to show the full profile… this is done in quick succession for at least 3 times or till the watcher gets a headache or falls victim to an epileptic session.Second is the Crouching-Split-Leg-Open-Crotch shot…. The heavy set/extra healthy woman falls from standing position to the on-the-comode position(sometimes using one hand behind for support) then the knees are brought in and out with utmost effort together and apart with a panned shot and then the knees spread apart, you get a close up… sometimes instead of the knees you get the butt thrust.”
11) too many of our songs are just … really meaningless and shallow. It often feels as though the only good ones are those that were originally poetry written by legends like Ghani Khan, Hamza Baba, Ajmal Baba, Sail, et al. The rest are like “sta sara meena kom” (“I love you”) or “ta zama janana ye” (“you’re my sweetheart”) in their many variants, and then they rhyme stupidly. And stuff. No, thanks – the qrratu isn’t impressed. Give me something that speaks to me, that speaks to a society that’s immersed in violence, hatred, intolerance, arrogance, ignorance, extremism. Give me something that speaks to the almost utter lack of education, good educationists, erudition, valor. Something like this:- Nasihat (for those in Pakistan, here’s a link you can access since crazy-ass Pakistan still has Youtube banned), by Bashir Maidani. A beautiful English translation, along with the Pashto script, of this song is available here: Dialogue between a suicide bomber and his mother by Azad Pashtun
– Maa la Ranra Rakai (“Give Me Light”)
– Margiya ma raaza darzama (this link directs to a brief history of the Babarra massacre as the background of this stunning song)
– Allaho sha Allaho, by Naghma
– Ilam kho sta haq dey Pukhtana bibi shirena ye! (“Education is your right, you’re a beautiful Pukhtana”), by Sardar Ali Takkar
– Niqab, by Yasir and Jawad (a poem by Ghani Baba)
– Pakhwa, by Ismail & Junaid (a poem by Hamza Baba) There’s only one problem with the music video of this song, though: you don’t see any women in it, despite the speaker’s vow that he’s Pukhtun and will always keep himself in the company of Pukhto and Pukhtuns. But for some reason, the creator of the video figured that meant only Pukhtun men and Pukhtun children. Excellent job in keeping women as invisible and hidden from the public as possible. Because we’re so beautiful the evil eye might hit us, khwdey de na ki. Or because we are too weak and powerless to take care of ourselves, and our men need to keep us hidden in our place so that no one harms us. Uh. No. Go away.
Actually, I should just create a separate list of some meaningful Pukhto songs instead of listing them all here in a post where I’m more interested in sharing my complaints about some of the worst things to be happening to Pukhto music right now. So stay tuned for that, but you all get the point, ya? Cool.But let me clarify something here: I don’t want my criticism of the lack of meaningful Pashto songs to be understood as: “only meaningful songs should be produced!” I must point out, in case it’s already not obvious from this blog, that I am a huge fan of diversity in all its forms and am perfectly fine with meaningless music so long as there’s a decent balance between meaningless and meaningful songs such that we have a good taste of both, not just one or the other. I’m also more concerned with the fact that most of our female singers tend to sing one type while most of our male ones tend to sing another type. The next time you hear a song that touches you, that speaks to our society, note whether the singer is a male or female.
All right, then. If you’d like to add other things that YOU can’t stand in our songs today, please feel free to share! Or also share whatever songs you like best, as in the above list, that I can add to my next post about the beautiful, meaningful songs our music has to offer.