Halqa-e-Danish Series: Maestros of Raag, Tufail Niazi

Friday, October 12, 2018 - 6:00pm
Saeed Saigol Auditorium, LUMS

Date: October 12, 2018
Time: 6:00 pm
Venue: Saeed Saigol Auditorium, LUMS


Host: Ali Aftab Saeed

About the Event

“rakẖ babul gẖar apnā,
dẖī chalī bēgānē dēs
sāḍāñ čiṛīāñ dā čambā,
vē bābulā vē
sāḍāñ čiṛīāñ dā čambā”

Tunes such as ‘sāḍāñ čiṛīāñ dā čambā’ are perhaps one of the countless reasons why we remember Tufail Niazi today. From being one of the few Muslims to perform Guru Nanak’s ‘Bani’, to having the honor of being the very first folk singer to perform on-air at the launch of Pakistan T.V, Tufail Niazi is to this day revered as an integral part of Punjabi folk music. Born in the Punjab of British India (1916) and having lived in a Sikh dominated area, Niazi adopted various colors of Sikh culture and often performed on the streets. After Partition, however, Niazi’s music appeared to have gained immense popularity amongst the cultural circles of Multan, making him one of the most popular folk singers in the country. In 1964, Niazi performed on Radio Pakistan, and finally inaugurated the launch of PTV, being the first folk singer to perform on-air. Some of his performances can be viewed below:



His rich knowledge of folk music as well as his love for Punjabi culture led him to work tirelessly in helping establish the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) in Islamabad, a one-of-its-kind institution at the time, still present today and visited by many. Known for experimenting with Sufi elements and embedding them with pathos, Niazi received many accolades for his work, including the Pride of Performance in 1982. While he passed away 8 years later, his legacy has been carried on by his two sons, Javed and Babar Niazi.
More popularly known as the Niazi Brothers, the two began their musical journey in 1981, when they performed alongside their father in India and were honored with the K.L.Sehgal Award for their musical talent. Not only have the two brothers been trained by their father, but they also share the honor of having been mentored by Ustad Salamat Ali Khan (1934-2001). Throughout their careers, both Javaid and Babar Niazi have entertained local as well as international audiences and have travelled extensively, showcasing their art in countries such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, India, China, North Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, and Australia, all the while sharing their family’s devotion to folk music.

Ayesha Nadir Ali, also commonly known as ‘Ashi’, is one of the few artists in the country who began their musical career after the formal years of education. What is striking about her is that she is currently a professor of Mathematics at the Lahore School of Economics, but at the same time, records albums and performs the work of dozens of classical Punjabi poets. After completing her Master’s in Mathematics from the U.S., she began learning music in Lahore. Her passion for Punjabi folklore is evident in the dozens if albums that she has recorded, all melodies of poets such as Sachal Sarmast, Bulleh Shah, Baba Nanak etc.

Ali Aftab Saeed is a musician and lead vocalist for his Lahore-based rock band ‘Beygairat Brigade’, a band which is immensely popular for its witty take on music. Saeed takes on various political and social issues, some of which are often quite grave and imminent, and addresses them through various melodies of satire. His first single ‘Aalu Anday’, which released in November 2011, became a track that countless young women and men would often hum, for its catchy beat and hilariously original lyrics. Saeed is also the director of Mishermayl Productions, which conducts dance (Kathak, etc.) performances around the world. This, of course, is part of his drive to add color to his surroundings, to spread art and music and therefore bring change. Currently he is working on a Punjabi ghazal album.