Sunday, September 7, 2014

This is what's wrong with Pashto music today

Dear readers,
Thank you for visiting! This blog post on Pashto music has been moved over to my new blog. Please click below to access it:

11 things wrong with Pashto music today – with gifs

Thank you!

~ October 9, 2015


  1. kratoogai bibi WHY does the "hey hey hey hey" have to be there? :P voice electrification...... and the list goes on ....You nailed it That's exactly how I feel.

    1. lolzuna. I was sure I wasn't the only one who felt this way. If we spoke up and demanded that we don't like this shitty stuff, maybe just maybe they'll listen to us and start producing music we actually like ...

  2. I've heard that Pashtun directors/producers use Punjabi women as dancers in their videos/movies, especially ones from the Attock-Chakwal-Abbotabad area; Punjabi women are seen as easy.

    A lot of the Mujra dancers in Peshawar theaters are also Punjabi, there are very few Pashtun ones.

    1. I don't even believe that they're all Punjabi, though - because calling someone a Punjabi is an insult in the Pukhtun society at large, really, so anyone we don't like or whose behavior is too "un-Pukhtun" is obviously not Pukhtun, according to our logic. But we say that only about the females, not about the males, because a "decent Pukhtana" would never behave like the ones we see on our TVs.

      That's why the ethnicity and identity of the females is always put on trial by our nar Pukhtaana.

  3. I so much agree with you ! Hardly we get good couple of songs a year , the rest is humiliating ones , their lyrics composition & vids . Really humiliating

  4. Right on! I agree with everything you've said!

  5. Great post. I just hope Farsiwans or Punjabis never see these extremely embarrassing videos that completely misrepresent our culture. I know some people in the region now associate Pakhtuns with these horrid videos. It's stupid, like judging Western civilization by softcore pornography or trashy B movies, but unfortunately, that's the case.

    Stuff like this completely ruins the reputation Pakhtuns have. Whether we like it or not, there's a sort of neo-oriental image of Pakhtuns as being extremely honorable, gallant, and traditional. I'd rather keep this image rather than have our people be defined instead by the filth that some film and music video directors in Peshawar or Kabul produce.

    1. Yes! It definitely does ruin our reputation. I was once in a class on Afghanistan, and when we were discussing music, the teacher showed a clip of these lame girls dancing here and there to a Nazia Iqbal song. The class was like, "WTH is this?!" I was so disappointed. But fortunately, the teacher also showed some better songs/music videos as well that was less mortifying. Have you noticed, though, that there's a stark difference between the music that comes out of Pashto-Afghanistan and Pashto-Pakistan? And I'm not talking about just post-war in Afghanistan - consider also the ones before it.

      I, too, would rather appreciate the neo-oriental image of us than this one being publicized.

      And this is precisely why we need more educated (or better-educated) Pukhtuns in the music and film industry. People who'll understand the value of music and entertainment and its reception.

    2. I don't listen much to Pakhto music, but yes, I have noticed a difference in Pakhto entertainment in general in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Basically, Pakhto music videos and films in Pakistan are a bit more cringeworthy. I say this as a Pakistani Pakhtun, because it's just true.

      I think this doesn't have much to do with Pakhtun culture, though. Someone above me said that Punjabi entertainment is to blame, and I kind of agree. If you pay attention, for example, Pakhto movies look almost exactly like some Lollywood films, except with more violence. They have the same themes, plots, even the same lame dialogue. I also think the more "low class" Indian films are a factor in this.

      If Punjabi influence wasn't at least partially responsible, why aren't the Pakhtun songs west of the Durand Line equally stupid? There, a lot of Pakhtuns speak Dari as a second language, and there is also a sizeable Tajik minority, so Pakhtuns often listen to Iranian music and watch Iranian movies and TV dramas. And Iranian entertainment is nowhere near as trashy as Lollywood and Bollywood. This is why I think we see this kind of difference.

      Just my opinion, though, I have no way of proving any of this, hah.

    3. "I think this doesn't have much to do with Pakhtun culture, though. Someone above me said that Punjabi entertainment is to blame, and I kind of agree."
      That was me but I didn't say that it was 'Punjabi' entertainment to blame, just that I've heard from Pashtun friends of mine that claim that most of those dancing women in Peshawar are 'Punjabi' but as Orbala has said, they could very well be Pashtun women who just got disowned and I don't think it's fair to blame "punjabi entertainment" or Lollywood, in fact Punjabi movies aren't that popular in Pakistan but the recent revival of Pakistani cinema or "Lollywood" has been pretty good, movies like like Waar,Khuda Kay Liye,Moor,Dukhtar,Bol or Operation 021 can't be called trashy -in fact the new wave of Pakistani movies aren't even musicals apart from "Mein Hoon Shahid Afridi" which was indeed trashy.

      So I don't believe there is any "Punjabi" influence in Pashto movies/music, because the Punjabi movie industry is pretty much dead though there's a remake of Maula Jatt in the works and it's basically a more modern version of Punjabi-Gujjar films so it isn't anything like a Pashto movie and if Pashto movies were being influenced by Lollywood we would be seeing more movies like Slackistan or Dukhtar but it isn't, and Pashto music is not influenced by Punjabi music at all -Punjabi bhangra music is more hip hop influenced because of the large Punjabi diaspora in the west, I mean I can't think of any Pashto singer that makes music like Bilal Saeed,Bohemia,Honey Singh,Imran Khan,Rabbi Shergill or Josh etc(not that I like that type of music) so you can't really blame the quality of Pashto music/movies in Pakistan because of Punjabis, I have a feeling you live outside Pakistan because you're of sync -the Pakistani movie scene has changed drastically over the past 5 years.

      "There, a lot of Pakhtuns speak Dari as a second language, and there is also a sizeable Tajik minority, so Pakhtuns often listen to Iranian music and watch Iranian movies and TV dramas. And Iranian entertainment is nowhere near as trashy as Lollywood and Bollywood."

      I don't think that's the reason, Pakistani soaps are actually now being acclaimed in India
      Turkish soaps are also popular in Pakistan but I don't see that influencing Pashto movies/shows in Pakistan or even Punjabi ones?Blaming another culture isn't really constructive, I don't see any similarities between the new wave of Pakistani cinema or 'Lollywood'(which is now based in Karachi) and Pashto movies..........

      /End of rant.

    4. I'm not blaming Punjabi entertainment, but I do think it influences Pakhto movies. The "new wave" you're talking about is a relatively recent development, you yourself said things changed in the past five years. So literally before 2009, Lollywood had nothing decent to offer. Pashto movies have been around since the '70s, way before movies like "Bol" started coming out. That's enough time, I think, for directors to be influenced by what they saw being done in Punjab at he time, which was trashy films that remarkably resemble the Pakhto music videos and films we see today. (Turkish soaps also only recently became popular in Pakistan, so you can't expect it to completely change Pollywood.)

      By the way, I'm not some kind of nationalist that thinks we should blame everything on Punjabis. For example, with regard to Afghanistan, I attributed the quality of Pakhto entertainment to the influence of Persian media. That's something no Pakhtun nationalist would ever admit.

      Again, this is just my own theory, bro. And yeah, I do live outside of the country.

    5. Well there might be some influence because of the proximity of KP from Punjab but I don't think it's much.

      "So literally before 2009, Lollywood had nothing decent to offer. Pashto movies have been around since the '70s, way before movies like "Bol" started coming out. That's enough time, I think, for directors to be influenced by what they saw being done in Punjab at he time, which was trashy films that remarkably resemble the Pakhto music videos and films we see today."

      Actually the Pakistani movie industry had somewhat of a Golden period through the 50s,60s and 70s, it then went through a slump during the Zia era and was replaced by Punjabi Gujjar movies which were trashy(there's a difference between Urdu movies and Punjabi movies), but even in the 80s PTV had many successful shows that were even popular in north India from what I've heard and that golden period hasn't seemed to have influenced Pashto movies/music of that time?

      The 90s were considered a golden age for Pakistan's music scene, there were bands like Vital Signs,Junoon,Strings,Awaz and more but they didn't seem to influence Pashto music, even the early 2000s saw a rise the rock/metal music scene in Pakistan with Qayaas,Kominas but I see a dearth of Pashto and Punjabi(language) rock bands, so they don't seem to be influenced by the mainstream Pakistani music scene but rather feed off each other although I have noticed there are some Pashto rock bands like Shahab & Naseer and Marg and they aren't like your mainstream Pashto singers.

      I think the reason why Punjabi and Pashto movies are so trashy and erotic in general is because they're geared towards sexually repressed men and their desires, they're the demographic that pays to go watch those type of movies -but now with increasing internet coverage and cell phone users, i think we're going to see a decline(and we are) because those men would rather unload in the comfort of their homes than go to a theater.

      Perhaps if more women, and educated people from the bourgeois up north take a more active interest in the local movie/music scene, then it might change but until then your movies and music are going to driven by frustrated men.

      That's just my 2 paisas.

    6. Hello there, Anonymousaano (wait, this spelling looks weird: "Anonymasaano" is better)!

      Thanks for carrying on the conversation! There's so much to say here, and I'll say some of it now and the rest another time.

      See, I don't think anyone's to blame but our own pitiful producers and entertainers. Entertainment is always being influenced by outside factors, and one would hope that influence is mutual, but that's rarely the case when Pukhtuns are involved. I do believe that in Pashto films/movies, some of the actresses are non-Pukhtuns. I watched a documentary once in which one of them was being interviewed and she was explaining how she was invited to join - and she's told what to wear (as happens with all film industries everywhere) and how her dance is choreographed. In our part of the world, as I imagine in other parts as well, most of the actresses in the entertainment business world are uneducated, poor, disempowered, and financially desperate women who are manipulated into joining showbiz in return for being objectified and abused in many different ways.

      One of you Anonymouses said in the comment above this one that having more educated people involved in the movie/music scene can change things for the better, and I totally agree.

      I'll write more later.

      Dre nim darzana manana, warro!

    7. Hi again, anonymous folks,
      So I've been listening to lots of Pashto music lately becuz I really wanna see what's going on with our music industry. And the observation that Pashto-Afghan music is a million times better than Pashto-Pakistan keeps being proved accurate. I have a lot of ideas on why this distinction exists, and I think it'd be injustice to Pashto music overall to not explain it in more detail because there are roots to the embarrassing crap we see today. I think one--just one, but a significant--reason is certainly Punjabi influence. I don't think it's Punjabis' fault that we're this pitiful, no, and I don't believe anyone deserves more blame for it all (or for any of our probs) than we ourselves do, but I do believe that outside influence is something to be acknowledged.

      While looking at lots and lots of Pashto music lately, I've also been looking at those elements of Punjabi or other music that has influenced Pakistani Pashtun music. Sadly enough, we've gotten the bad of their music and film, rather than any good ones (or at least I don't know of any, yet?), such as their mujra style. All the dancers whose performances we are too mortified to share with our non-Pashtun friends (or that we can't watch in front of our elders) are very much comparable to what we see in mujra performances, too. Though the mujra ones are far more humiliating, shameful, insulting to women and men, and just overall terrible. Google up a few.

      But we don't see this in Afghanistan or at least in Pashto music videos or music from Afgh. If this was never a part of the Afghan music tradition and still is not, but Pakistnai Pashtuns have adopted it so readily, it seems, then one wonders if Pashtunkhwa's being made a part of Pakistan must have something to do with it. Well, no, I'm over a 100% sure it does, but this needs to be explained in more detail with examples from pre-1947 Pashto music from, say, Peshawar and Swat, and then comparing that to decades post-1947--and in Swat's case, post-1960s as well after Swat was made a part of Pakistan.

      Some of Naghma's songs do get random girls here and there dancing in the videos, but that's a rare sight, I think, yeah? I want to say that the more respectable female singers who've earned and demanded themselves some respect from their audiences don't allow such stupidity in their music and videos. Compare Naghma's performances from her earlier days to today, for example, and note the confidence with which she carries herself and how she demands attention and respect from her audience through her movement, forceful voice, and confidence. The Pakistani Pashtun ones still generally tend to be unable to do that.

      But, yeah, Pakistani influence on Pashto music. I think that's something we should look more into but not in a polemical way. I think this influence was inevitable if PK Pashtuns had to become a part of Pakistan and then become embedded in the society. There's lots of issues to consider here, too, then... like identity.

      The Afghan Pashto songs have far better music videos and better music, and the Pakistani Pashtun music even seems to add in some different instruments (that we don't see in Afghan music or in non-Pashtun Pakistani music).

      God, there's so much to say on this. Someone do a study on this, please.

  6. Salamoona! Well & friendly written I must say. I've been observing this since long, back when I was in school & then college early and mid 2000s. Tbh I started hating Pashto music because of this, was only listening to Takkar, Rafiq Shinwari & Khyal Mohammad & couple others. Anyway, there's loads to talk about these kinda issues, I used/still to hate it when Nazia Iqbal was singing "ma la miss call raaka" and people were enjoying it and I was wth is wrong with people & her singing this bull*hit. But most of us know all this, and thanks Qrratanne for pointing it out, but I feel a lack of solution(s) being suggested by you in this article. We all know this but we need to find ways to get rid of these stuff.
    I admit education is very important and has a vital role in our life but sometimes in some cases it doesn't help aswell. Suppose if we say education could bring a change in this then how? Again lets say education came then we move forward in this for some time to make it right but after while might put our feet in the steps of Lolly/Bollywood or Miley Cyrus(I had to Google for her when she's doing some gestures which I think is almost inhumane, but most of the people like it in West or even in East. They call themselves as modern & civilised but from where I see it they are the ones who humiliate their women. Women in most cases are treated as toy or show-piece there. Anyway not going into that, so coming back to Pakhtuns, what I think that there's one thing that is more important than education and that is شعور or we call it تربيه in Afghanistan. I think the producers/directors of nowadays Pashto movies/songs are somehow little bit more educated as compared to those in silver/golden era of Pashto entertainment, but still along with that education they are damaging Pashtun culture. Why? Because they lack that awareness that شعور & تربيه (sorry can't recall the right word for it in English).
    Ao bala khabarra daa da che oas na hagha Pakhto paate da aw na hagha Pakhtaana, why, because we have forgotten our culture our traditions our Pashto.
    And I also agree that there's like almost 70-80% female actors/dancers are non-Pashtuns but I ask that why the directors/producers ask for them & then make them dance in such a way which as you said promotes sexualisation. And I don't agree with some1 who says that it's public demand, suppose lets suppose it's public demand now, who made it their demand, it's these few bloody people who only for some money are destroying our culture. These few greedy & sick people are harvesting our Pashtun roots. And besides, the male actors and stories are about "Topak Culture" and acting(though that's not called acting) stupid and people are appreciating. Well, this is getting long & boring I think, but we need to hold on to our culture, atleast if every individual makes his/her family hold onto it, that'll be a success in saving the beautiful & great culture of Pashtuns.
    Loads of things to say, kho khair bya ba shi.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Harun!

      Now, see, I don't think every issues that gets raised necessarily needs to come with solutions. I believe it's perfectly okay to point out some flaws in something without necessarily saying, "Here's a solution." Not only is that because the solutions are so complicated, as are the root causes, but also because it's not any one individual's responsibility. It means a lot to me that some readers of my blog expect me to solve our problems, but I'm still at the end of the day just another one individual, no? So the purpose of this post was to merely discuss what I personally cannot stand about Pashto music, and if you were expecting more, then what can I say - don't expect more? :)

      That said, keep in mind that it's the musicians and their bosses and the whole system that plays a role in the kind of music that's produced in our society are the ones who have enough power to bring in any change. You and I are worthless. I do think, though, that we as an audience can keep criticizing it and demanding better quality music and hope and pray that eventually, these criticisms will reach the "right" people who'll listen to us.

      I don't think education alone is the answer, but my reasons are different from what yours are: the western music world doesn't at all represent a well-educated society. Any system that objectives/sexualizes women or men can never be deemed educated in my eyes. I'm very critical of the way that Miley Cyrus is portrayed, or allows herself to be portrayed or willingly chooses to be so, in western entertainment media; I'm also critical of the overall objectification of women in western film industries. So I wouldn't conflate "education" or "an educated society" with the west at all. The west isn't, doesn't have to be, and should not be our standard when it comes to music or films.

      I don't believe in or agree or like the claim that we no longer have true Pashtuns left. I think that's unfair to all of us because such claims deny the fact that human civilizations change with time, as they should; they're dynamic, and we need to recognize that and remember that that's a reality that's actually a good thing most of the time. What odes the word "tradition" mean anyway? And why is "tradition" always prioritized over whatever its opposite or the alternative to "tradition" is? We haven't forgotten our culture - but cultures and peoples and societies change, and there's nothing wrong with that so long as we still have principles and values of our own, but those values and principles should be compatible with the universal values of the time we're living in. We're in 2014 right now, for instance, not in the 1970s. So I disagree with your point there.

      I am, however, in agreement with your thought that it's not as much about demand as some of us want to believe. No, our producers aren't feeding us what they do because that's what we need or wan; I think it's more about availability - we're given such few options, if any at all, that we have no choice but to go ahead and fall in love with whatever is actually an insult to us and our identity and culture and history.

      Thank you again and again for your thoughts!

  7. Manana for your reply.
    1st of all just want to clarify in case any misunderstandings are there, that my comment was sheerly for d purpose of discussion & not argument or objection on your post or any part of it. And I was/am not expecting anything from. Got here cuz of a retweet on my TL in Twitter and it caught my attention enough to read almost all of your blog regarding this issue.

    Anyhow, you agree to what I said or not, thats totally cool with me cuz I think thats what called a healthy discussion and also cuz you are entitled to your own opinion.

    Now, if you would pay a bit more attention to d minute details of my words, I've used the 'suggestion' and not been imperative in my comment, I've meant that it would've been great if you would 'SUGGEST' some kinda solutions aswell. So hope that's cleared. But as you've said that it's not necessary to come up with a solution for every issue, which I agree but not completely, cuz I think there's a solution for every issue, "de har dard, dawa shta" "if there's a way, there's a well" but it depends if we are able to suggest one or not and also imp thing is it's implementation, only after implementing d suggested solution we can know if it's effective or not. And also its d responsibility of every individual to play their part. I'm a strong believer that one person can bring change if he/she is committed & dedicated, if they change even one other individual's mind towards betterment is a success for them I think and "you and I" are NOT worthless. :)
    I can talk about it but it'll be lil long discussion as I'm typing on my phone and it's a bit ...... lol

    About the تربيه along education that I spoke, duno if you agree or not but I've experienced it and can give you live examples.
    And I did criticise the West about it's entertainment industry in my previous comment so I can conclude you do agree with me. I know that you and I DON'T think that West is civilised regarding it's entertainment but there's loads (our people) in West and East like and even love it. Just want to add up that though it's sad but trust me our young generation are tending more towards Western music & movies.

    Now regarding what I said about the real Pashtuns exist not any more, I'll still stick to that statement that the way the Pashtuns were they are not anymore and I'm not talking about the traditions or dressing or things similar to them. Well let me ask you one question, have you ever sat with some aged Pashtuns like when they are in their 80s 90s and talked to them? As a female Pashtun I also think you have not seen the actual happenings in Hujra and I'm not saying it's your fault or anything so plz not to think i'm kinda stereotyping or something :) what I mean that you could learn so much and that actual and real things if you sit with them rather than reading about them... I can talk about it why I said that if you want me to... so yeah I still say that we don't have THAT Pashto left anymore that we had long ago.... And I do agree that with times things change, it's natural, cant deny that but changing or forgetting the core and basic things, I don't agree we should change them if we do then I'm right saying we've forgotten/left them.

    Anyhow, hope you didn't mind me.... you are an educated person and pursuing your PhD in Islamic studies which is great and great... you see the world and especially Pashtuns differently(may be in some cases) but I'm a layman who is out there experiencing loads of things and the ground realities.
    Proud&love&respect Pashtun women who get educated as far as they can....but sadly & unfortunately every one can't pursue it due to different factors in our society.

    Dera manana for bearing with me... ☺


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