Punjab, the land of five rivers, can take pride in its rich collage of Sufi poetry. And its people know by instinct what is meant by ‘living in the moment’. No wonder, poetry of Bulle Shah, Sultan Bahu, Baba Farid, Khawaja Ghulam Farid, Waris Shah and Hashim, with their raw, intense appeal and forthrightness, finds instant takers in the ordinary folk.
COLORS OF JUGNI
Adil Najam & Afat Qiyamat
Punjab is the land of the Sufis. Its also the land where Heer, Sahibañ, Sohni, not to mention Dani Jatti, the all female characters [and the list goes on and on] weave its folklore.
Its also the land where Waris Shah, Hazrat Bulleh and other Sufi poets / saints dominate, and of course there is Data Ganj Bakhsh, the patron saint of Lahore, Hazrat Miañ Mir and Baba Farid, or transcending the boundaries of religion, is Guru Gobind Singh, and where in accompaniment of musicals, rhythmic body movements like Bhañgrha, Luddi, Tappay and Dholki rule the roost.
Enter Jugni, an entirely revolutionary genre of music, never ever seen in any other culture. Jugni is a narrator; a female who wanders through various lands and then narrates [sings] her observations and comments about the land, the people and the events she experiences or observes.
IT ALWAYS STARTS WITH
Jugni ja poñhchi …Calcuttay
Jugni ja poñhchi …Lahore
Jugni ja pohñchi …Ludhiyanay….
…etc… as Jugni reaches some specific place or places…
It might be a surprise for many that Jugni is actually a British Gift…!!
In 1906, it was the Jubilee year of the Queen of England, and as part of celebrations, a torch was sent to various parts of the British dominions, including India.
This torch, then travelled to various places, and on its way to the plains of Punjab reached the two Punjabi singers, Bhisna Jatt and Mohammed Mañda of Hasanpur, Thana Vairowa.
According to Pandit Diwan Singh the two singers used to participate in those Jubilee celebrations and were singing at various melas [the village carnivals].
Soon Bhisna Jatt and Mohammed Mañga separated themselves from the official celebrations and started singing Jugni incorporating revolutionary ideas in their songs.
This did not go well with the British and consequently at Gujranwala on charges of rioting, both of them were imprisoned. History has it; they were killed during police interrogations and torture.
In recent times Alam Lohar and his son Arif Lohar are credited with the revival of this unique genre of Punjabi music, which had a short span from 1906 to 1950’s.
Alam sang the first Jugni on Radio Pakistan and then on the state television, the PTV. Later he sang in a film, making a remarkable comeback for this special genre of music.
Later it was Saleem Javed, who re-revolutionised it when he sang the Techno version. Since then it has not looked back.
Rabbi Shergil of the “Bhulla Ki jañrhañ maeñ kouñrh“ fame, too sang a beautiful Jugni, and its Rabbi’s Jugni which shows the revolutionary and political color of this particular genre of Punjabi folk.
Currently it is Rohail Hyatt’s Coke Studio that’s one of the best things that has happened to the Jugni folk in a long time. The big hit from this year’s (Season 3) Coke Studio is Arif Lohar’s (with Meesha Shafi) singing again: “Alif Allah Chambay di Booti“
This is an absolutely captivating song. In many ways it could be the ultimate Coke Studio song. Like so many other productions in the CS, but maybe more than most others, this song would just not have happened this way were it not for Rohail Hyatt and the efforts of the CS. The fusion is not just in the instrumentation, the composition and the set, it is in every sound and every placement of emphasis of the song. It remains Arif Lohar’s song to its core, but it would just not have been the same without Meesha Shafi. For all of this one has to thank Arif, Meesha, and of course Rohail.
But in some ways, we must also thank – and remember – Alam Lohar with this song. Alam Lohar was the ultimate showman. A giant in a generation of great folk artists. And the Jugni was one of his signature songs.
I must confess that I have never ever heard anyone sing the Jugni without Alam Lohar’s sound track playing at the back of my head. For those who are unfamiliar with the great showmanship of that soundtrack, here is a dusty glimpse. The quality is not that good – one just wonders what Alam Lohar could have done in CS! – but the mastery is all too evident.
• To express true pronunciation of a nasal n in Punjabi, a wave over English alphabet ‘n’ has been used throughout in this narrative.
• Again to express the true rendition of an rh as in Punjabi word Paharh [mountain], an ‘r’ combined with h has been used to express the true connotation of that sound.
Source: The first part of this post was published in Chowk.com and the later part by Adil najam in All Things Pakisan. YouTube videos again courtesy All Things Pakistan.
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