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Zarina Baloch — the voice of Sindh no more
« on: November 02, 2005, 09:06:30 PM »
Zarina Baloch — the voice of Sindh no more

By Suraiya Makhdoom

In the death of Zarina Baloch, Sindh has lost one of her great assets. Not only was Zarina one of the country’s most popular singers, but she was a composer, an actress, a writer, a teacher and a social and political worker as well. Indeed she became an institution in her own right.

Zarina was born in Hyderabad as Amina Baloch in a traditional Sindhi Baloch family. After completing her studies, (Class 7 in those days) she asked Dadi Leelan, a well known Sindhi educationist, whether she could get a job. The kind Dadi, whose farsightedness probably saw a great jewel in Zarina, sent her to the radio station. Zarina recalls this event as, “I used to sing the dua at the prayer time and Dadi was the first one to notice my talent.” Continuing with her first experience at the radio station, Zarina said, “Rubina Mustafa Qureshi was there a year before me.”

Zarina was selected to sing and to perform in the radio dramas. Thus she started upon a musical career, which has entertained, inspired and enchanted millions of people in Sindh and abroad. Zarina was a fast learner and in 1961 she won her first award in a radio singing competition. Later on she received many national and international awards, including the Shah Latif, Sachal and Shahbaz Awards, SGA, SANA, Ram Panjwani Awards in different parts of the world. She also received Pride of Performance from former president Farooq Leghari.

In Sindhi music Zarina mainly specialised in the following three fields, folk songs, national songs and Sheikh Ayaz’s poetry.

Folk songs: Zarina is unparallel in the area of folk songs. Indeed her fame started as a folk singer. She has sung many popular folk songs and given them a new life, as Mooru tho Tile is popular in Sindh and all over the sub-continent. Her Chaliro (a traditional ring) is a weakness of almost every Sindhi woman.

There would hardly be a wedding ceremony in Sindh, in which Zarina’s folk songs are not heard.

Among new folk music, who can forget Ali Baba’s immortal song, written for the drama Dangi manjhe daryahu, in which Zarina acted and sang: Kangro tho udehi rhe ala hindoran mein ludhe, Aseen monho lare ja, darya je pachara ja, utererho tho….

It’s due to her great contributions to folk music that Zarina Baloch is rightly called the ‘Queen of Folk Music’.

National songs: Singing the inspiring and national poetry of poets such as, Khaki Joyo, Ibrahim Munshi, Ustad Bukhari, Sheikh Ayaz and Hyder Bux Jatoi, Zarina’s national songs gave great impetus to the Sindhi national movement, be it the struggle against One Unit in the sixties or the struggle for Sindhi rights. Who can forget Zarina’s rendering of Comrade Jatoi’s immortal, “Jeeay Sindh, aeen jeeay Sindh, Jamu muhabat peeay Sindh”. Indeed Zarina was one of those rare personalities who were respected and whose presence and musical contribution was sought after by all politicians and nationalist parties in Sindh.

Zarina also sang Baloch and Palestinian national songs, which made her very popular among the Baloch and Seraiki youth and nationalists. Her Man chuk-e Balochani, Man hakim-e mulakni and Gul Khan Naseer’s Man aas aan grokan shamsheeran, Man tob aan bam aan bandooq aan, Man yagehan man yagehan made her a voice of the Balochs.

Sheikh Ayaz’s poetry: Being a lifelong friend and associate of Sheikh Ayaz, one of the greatest contemporary Sindhi poets, Zarina sang his poetry which many couldn’t. She sung Ayaz when his poetry was banned. Not only did she sing, but she also composed the songs herself. Zarina’s rendering added to the popularity of Ayaz’s poetry. She took Ayaz’s verses to the people who couldn’t read or write.

Zarina’s drama career started with her very first job at the radio station. Later on she acted in very popular TV dramas, such as, Rani Ji Kahani, Guddi, Chand Raheen tho doore, Kedo Karoonbhar (written by her), Banhi and Baleshahi. One of her most celebrated dramas was “Dangi Manjhe Daryahu” (A Boat in the Sea), written by Ali Baba. In this drama Zarina played a fisherman’s (Noor Muhammad Lashari) wife. Zarina thoroughly researched this challenging character, as she said, “I lived in a fishing village for many days to observe the fisherwomen.” This drama won third position at a festival in Munich, Germany.

Zarina was a writer as well. She wrote short stories and dramas. Although Zarina was a professional artiste, she did not make art her only profession. She was an artist with a social and political conscience.

Zarina was also a great political and social worker. She fought for the rights of Sindhis. From anti-one-unit and 4th March movements till the latest MRD, Bhutto Bachayo (Save Bhutto), anti martial law and Anti Kalabagh Dam movements, she was always at the forefront, marching and suffering with the people. She was an active campaigner for women’s rights. She rendered her support to almost all the women and human rights organisations, such as the Sindhiani Tehreek, the Aurat Foundation, the Sindhi Naree Tahreek, the Aurat Sabha, the Shirkatgah and the HRCP.

She remained in Sukkur, Karachi and Hyderabad jails for two years in General Ziaul Haq’s era. She was also one of the few women leaders in Pakistan who faced baton charge, which in her case was in Thatta.

Zarina was a great mother, a wife, a grandmother and a very good friend. She has given birth to illustrious children and grandchildren, like the legendary Akthar Baloch, Ayaz Latif Palejo and the granddaughter Sassui Palejo, MPA. Her friends and admirers will always remember her love and affection, warmth, laughter, understanding and compassion.\10\31\story_31-10-2005_pg7_39
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Re: Zarina Baloch — the voice of Sindh no more
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2006, 10:47:11 AM »
Legendary heroine of Sindh Jeejee Zareena

Ji Ji Zareena Baloch-Sindh's Cultural and Natural Voice
Jiji does not have any shagirds but she is proud of a whole legion of
children that she has nurtured as a primary school-teacher in Hyderabad in
the last twenty-two years. For a woman who set out to gain a formal
education when she was in her twenties, Jiji Zarina has made a name for
herself as a writer too. When she wrote her first story people thought it
was her husband, Rasul Bux Palijo who was ghost writing for her. How can she
become a writer overnight, they asked. "I am an artists. If I can become a
singer suddenly and a teacher suddenly, so I can become a writer."
Jiji Zarina's response is characteristic of a woman who does not dwell on
past glories. She is willing to explore hidden facets of her own personality
and take on new challenges. Zarina wrote with the same abandonment that she
sang with. She even drew plaudits from Shaikh Ayaz, "there is Ismat Chughtai
in Hind and Zarina in Sindh." Though one may well pepper the praise with a
pinch of salt as it is singing which has been her first love.
Jiji Zarina took a break from baby-sitting her grandchildren in Hyderabad
and was in Karachi early this year, singing Sufi waees in the play Roshni ke
Dareechay. Her voice pierced through the darkness as she sang from the
wings. "My voice is not dependent on any musical instrument. Give me a
Thalhi and I will hold it and sing. It is Allah's gift and my people's
love," she says.
Jiji (mother), they call her from a six-year-old who breaks into Mor tho
tille to the sixty-year-old. But Jiji, the singer, writer or teacher was not
born overnight. With each moment of reckoning she took up the challenge. The
test by fire she says, "made her into kundan. Hard times can be educating,"
she says in a simple matter-of-fact tone. Neither is there any
self-congratulatory tone to her manner as she narrates the story of her
life. She clears her throat like a true singer as the spool on the tape
begins to turn slowly.
Nature gave in to the strong-willed girl and things fell into place. Once
she cleared her exams (Class 7 in those days) she told Dadi Lila she wanted
to work. Dadi Lila sent her to the radio station. "I used to sing the dua at
the prayer time and Dadi Lila was the first one to notice my talent. I was
afraid and said baba would kill me but she insisted I go for the audition.
In those days Rubina Mustafa Qureishi was there a year before me."
It was Dadi Lila who gave the wheel of fortune yet another flick. She took
Zarina to the Training College and had her enrolled. There was resistance
but Dadi Lila prevailed, " 'sometimes in life one has to break rules and be
flexible to help out' said Dadi Lila to them. Maybe Hindus are more generous
or it was the respect that she commanded.." Jiji Zarina trails off. Dadi
Lila had swiveled open not one but two doors for her. Armed like Saraswati,
the Hindu goddess of learning with a book in one hand and a musical
instrument in another, there was little that go wrong.
"In radio we were taught the tune a day earlier for four items in the
morning and four to six items in the evening. It was a difficult but a
valuable learning experience. If we made a mistake then we had to begin all
over again." Ask her where classical music is today and she says, "to learn
classical music you have to be rich, the ustad (teacher) has to walk home to
the shagird's (student's) home. How can one expect the poor man to pay and
Earlier the radio station was the repository of culture and music. Maybe
people don't wish to work hard anymore. There is no honesty left. The ustads
in the past like Mohammad Juman, Ibrahim, Niaz Hussain were made of sterner
stuff. There was truth in their voice, they had a compelling presence. No
lies, no pilfering other people's tunes." Zarina says with a silvery laugh,
" they procreated their own children and nurtured them like mothers. Some of
the tunes are so popular like Mor Tho Tile, Dana pe dana, Yar Ladi,
Vashmalle. These songs are in our regional languages but everybody wants to
sing them. When I hear these songs, images of people swim in my eyes.
Manzoor Ali Khan, Jumman, Shaikh Ayaz, Imdad Husaini, Tanvir Abbassi, Ustad
Bukhari. These songs have been sung by Noor Jehan to Shazia Khushk. But when
history will be written the names of the original composer will be etched."
The process of osmosis continues. " I compose my own tunes."
Dr Nabi Bux Baloch compiled a book of folk songs but these did not give any
clue about the tunes. But the words rooted in the socio-cultural milieu
evoked the emotions. I am a mother, daughter, sister too. The happiness and
the sadness inside me gave the melody to these words." Jiji Zarina says she
was suddenly imbued by a sense of urgency to have as many songs recorded as
possible for posterity. I implored them to take the songs from me before I
forget them. I did not seek any remuneration for them too."
This was a sequel to an earlier effort two decades ago when on the
suggestion of Rasul Bux Palijo and with the encouragement of like-minded
people like Hamid Akhund, Agha Saleem, Amar Jaleel, Ghulam Hussain Shaikh,
Imdad Khawaja we tried to preserve the heritage like Lok Geet & Maulood.
Quivering songs like a translucent mirage on the hot sands of Sindh were
lured into the sound-proof recording rooms. Preserving the past and present
became a passion and " the recordings continued for hours like water flowing
endlessly," she says.
Jiji Zarina acted in the award-winning PTV play, Dungi Manji Dariya written
by Alibaba and which made it to the third place at a festival in Munich.
Playing the female protagonist, Jiji took to the role like fish to water.
The life-sustaining waters of Sindh were not alien to her. " I lived in a
fishing village for five days to observe the women." The play was yet
another door that Zarina pried open. " I did fifty more than programs with
T.V. producers Ada Haroon Rind, Iqbal Ansari, Sultana Siddiqui, Mumtaz Mirza
and Abdul Karim Baloch. Mumtaz Mirza was the guiding spirit too. In fact,
the concept of the chorus was introduced by Ada Mumtaz.". Her famous T. V.
dramas & serials include Rani Ji Kahani, Jangal, Guddi, Chand Raheen Tho
Door, Kedo Karoonbhar (written by Jiji Zarina), Banhi & Baleshahi.
She is quite happy with her three children Akhtar, Aslam & Ayaz and eleven
grand children. Her son Ayaz Latif Palijo and daughter Akhtar Baloch are
also well known writers. Names of people pop up in her conversation. She is
loyal to her family, colleagues & friends and she lights the candle of
memory shorn of self-consciousness. There are no wisps of nostalgia that
cloud the picture. It is more of a candid shot. The awards had begun early
in her career, she names a dozen awards in a single breath, including the
Pride of Performance, Latif Award, Shahbaz Award, Rama Panjwani Award.
Jiji Zarina is a committed activist too she has remained in jail for her
political commitment and nationalist role . The women activists in the
Sindhiani Tehreek seek her out to sing for their cause. "I am a fankar. I
have kept myself free, I am a part of them because I am Palijo Sahib's wife.
They do the work, I am with them, I sing national songs like Jeay Sindh,
Maan bi Goliyoon Halayan, Jahan Khe diyo Mubarekoon, Sindh Harre Ji Sindh
Mazdoor Ji, Sindhiani Sindh Ji Jaee Aa, Kafan Mathay Saan Badhi Wadhan Tha,
at their functions because I want people to be aware, to surge ahead."
The feudal stranglehold she says stifles the progress of the country. She
talks about "the wadera's exploitation and the hari's perspiration, the
finger-in-every-pie politician. It is not like India where a Phoolan Devi
makes it to parliament." Ask her about the present lot of singers and she is
very generous with her praise but spikes it with an insight. "Sarmad Sindhi,
Manzoor Sakherani, Shazia Khushk, Samina Kanwal, Taj Mastani, Bedal Masroor,
Fauzia Soomro, Sadiq Faqeer, Shafi Faqeer, Allahdino Khaskheli & Ameer Ali
have what it takes to click. The world is moving at such a frenzied pace,
people are tired of the baggage of life, so if there is a moment or two of
respite and people get to be merry, the credit goes to youngsters. Though
she can't figure out the get-up that Shazia dons," the women in Thar do not
have so many clothes that she wears. But people like it and I wish her well.
Even I want to listen to fast music." However, she puts in a word of advice.
The young singers
 should select good poetry, compose their own music. Abida Parveen she rates
very highly. "There will never be another like her. A great deal of credit,
goes to her husband, Ghulam Husain Shaikh too. Her art is a treasure for the
Jiji Zarina Baloch is an intriguing combination of mellowness and
spiritedness. The fires may not be raging inside but at a just provocation
they could burst into flames that would singe.

Jeejee Zarina Baloch
By Dodo Chandio

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Zarina Baloch n Allan Faqeer
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2009, 07:20:43 PM »