'Folk is in my genes'
Dressed in a distinct shimmering black dress with a chimta in hand, Pakistani singer Arif Lohar is a living legend who believes, “a folk singer isn’t made, a folk singer is born!”
Recipient of Pride of Performance Award (highest civil award in Pakistan), the folk singer shares his tryst with music in an exclusive interview with Metrolife, ahead of his performance in Delhi.
“Folk is in my genes,” says Arif whose mellifluous voice gained popularity through Coke Studio first and then through Bollywood numbers like Dum gutgoo in Agent Vinod and then the ultimate Jugni from Cocktail. “Jugni became popular globally through Coke Studio. Some time later, I was attending an award function where the makers of Cocktail asked me if I could sing the same song for the movie. Ek racha hua gaana dobara gana bahut mushkil hota hai. But the credit of its recreation goes to Pritamji,” says the singer who is elated at the success of his song but adds, “Some fans still like the original version of the song but the new version which is recorded for Cocktail, had added to the list of my fans.” So, be it the original or the new version, it is the magic of his voice that surpasses all categories.
“Har awaaz ka apna pehra hota hai,” says the singer who is a die-hard fan of Kishore Kumar. “I have been listening to songs of Kishore Kumar since childhood. I like many of his songs especially Chingari koi bhadke. I also like Mukesh, Rafi, Ashaji and Lataji. My father also listened to Lataji's songs.”
So are Indian singers popular in Pakistan like it is the case in India with Pak singers? “Log yahan Sonu Nigam and Ashaji ko bahut pasand karte hain. Even Gurdas Maan, Hans Raj Hans and Daler Mehendi are welcomed with love by people of Pakistan. I am an eye witness of this and I feel that it should be like that for only music can win over hearts of all.”
Apart from music, it is the culture of India that attracts him the most. “I like the culture of India. The tradition and architectural beauty of India are spellbinding. Having come here a number of times, I have also got a chance to pay a visit to Ajmer Sharif, which is my biggest achievement," says Arif who will soon be singing another Bollywood number for Naseerudin Shah's upcoming film Kadiyan.
The singer is all thankful to Routes to Roots, an NGO for providing him with a platform to sing for Indian audiences at Siri Fort on October 11, along with ICCR . “Routes to Roots ek khoobsurat cultural platform hai where I will try my best that the audience enjoys my culture and my style. because this time I will be coming to represent my country,” he signs off.