Born a year after the Partition in Faislabad, Pakistan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is a reminder of the many things that brings together South Asians. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is a Pakistani Qawwali singer, known as the ‘King of Qawwali’ receiving global acclaim. The unity of language and musical themes coupled with his unique and mesmerising voice, cemented him in the hearts of Indians and in the core of Bollywood.
His family lived in Jhalandar, and moved the Pakistan following the Partition. In 1971 he lead his family Qawwali group, singing in Urdu and Punjabi but also in Parsi and Hindi. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan composed music for ‘Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya’, ‘Kartoos’ and ‘Kachche Dhaage’, all Bollywood films. After his death, the film ‘Dharkan’ released in 2000 featuring the song ‘Dulhe ka Sehra’, which has since become one of the most popular Indian wedding songs.
A reprise of one of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s famous Qawallis ‘Tumhe Dillagi’, has continually enjoyed success on both sides of the border after his death. In 2016 Pakistani drama ‘Dil Lagi’ featured an adaption as a title song with his nephew, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The same year, Bollywood composers Salim–Sulaiman adapted the original into a music video, featuring two Bollywood actors and Rahat’s voice.
50 years after the Partition, A.R. Rahman’s album Vande Mataram was released to mark 50 years of India’s independence. The message of the album was to celebrate the values of ‘Freedom, Love, Harmony and Peace’. A.R. Rahman travelled to Pakistan to record with Fateh Ali Khan, marking the first cross-border collaboration. In recent years an unfortunate political climate has emerged which has seen a ban on Pakistani artists coming to India. The work of A.R. Rahman and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan should serve as a reminder to both nations that sharing talent and ideas can only lead to more tolerance and benefit for both nations.
To mark his 67th Birthday, a Google Doodle was created in his honour, available to be seen in namely both Pakistan and India. He is a reminder of the many beautiful, historic and everlasting parts of South Asian subcontinent that have, and always will bring us together.