The inimitable Reshmaa



May 20, 2023

The Inimitable Reshmaa

Elsa Sc S pays tribute to an
iconic singer

The Inimitable Reshmaa – She came from nowhere and became talk of the town. Her origins were shrouded in mystery and that added to her aura. She sang with verve and her powerful voice was immensely penetrating. She gave a new angle and quality to folk singing and created an inimitable style. Reshmaa became the recognition of Pakistan internationally and her shows abroad were always a star attraction. Her singing prowess earned her tremendous reverence in Pakistan and she soon developed a cult following.

The legend is that she was discovered by a programme producer of Radio Pakistan while she was singing at the shrine of venerated Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar at Sehwan in Sindh. She hailed from the areas which neighbour the desert and the celebratory loneliness in her voice reflected the barrenness of the surroundings of her childhood. Her deep voice came out strong with every note she produced and became synchronised with accompanying music.

Radio Pakistan recorded many folk songs sung by Reshmaa that became famous and her specific brand of singing was nationally acclaimed. The famous Radio personality Salim Gilani arranged for Lal Meri to be recorded in 1968 and her first production became an instant hit and she became a regular feature of television in Pakistan. Her musical repertoire kept on increasing and composers flocked to record tunes that became favourites.

Reshmaa was in great demand throughout the subcontinent and her voice was used for film industry both in Lahore and Mumbai. The pathos in her voice gave meaning to the feelings of loneliness and foreboding and the listeners were often mesmerised by the depth and sonority of her renditions. Her rendition of Hai O Rabba naion lagda dil mera was full of emotional deprivation and became a classic.
Another rendition Ankhiyan noon rehn de was so profoundly rendered that it evoked emotions far and wide. This song was used by Indian filmmaker Raj Kapoor in his film Bobby and was a huge hit. Her song Lambi judai became a hit in the length and breadth of the subcontinent and few films were produced based on the emotions portrayed in the song. Her chorus Meri hamjolion has been remixed frequently.
The quality of the performance of Reshmaa becomes manifold in the backdrop that she completely lacked formal education in music as she never got a chance to be trained in her art. She was blessed with a natural wide-ranging voice and was naturally adept in delivering the folk songs she learnt while performing on Sufi shrines. Her range was magical and she possessed the nuance of performing within the required beat while stretching or shortening the content of a line.

Reshmaa always retained her simple rural style and lived very originally. She had phenomenal sense of humour that came out unintended during her live performances. Her down-to-earth demeanour endeared her to her fans who were always fascinated her forthrightness and simplicity. The brilliance of her performance was associated with her innate devotion to her talent and she was careful to adhere to it consistently.

Music lovers realised the originality of her talent and were fascinated by her unusual style of singing. Her contribution to folk music was recognised officially and she was conferred with a high-ranking public award Sitara-e-Imtiaz which she fully deserved. She unfortunately was afflicted with throat cancer that ultimately took her life but she is alive in the memories of her large fan-following. The Weekender

Elsa Sc S is doing her graduation from LUMS & a keen researcher


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