musical history

Have you heard the longest qawaali ever sung?

In the first of our new series, meet Aziz Mian, who clocked his performance at 115 minutes.

Qawaali has its roots deeply entrenched in the Sufi tradition of addressing God through devotional music. Originally performed in Persia and Turkey, the form travelled to South Asia in the 12th century, and was brought to India by its foremost exponent, Amir Khusro, in the 13th century.

Qawaali has been hugely popular in Hindi films, especially the so-called Muslim socials, such as in Najma (1945), Zeenat (1945) and Mughal-E-Azam (1960). PL Santoshi’s Barsaat Ki Raat (1960) took the form one step further by introducing the familiar trope of the qawaali as a contest. Two teams, one male and the other female, challenge each over the 12-minute qawaali “Na Toh Karwan Ki Talash Hai”. The longest qawaali recorded for a film was written by Sahir Ludhianvi for music composer Roshan. Singers Asha Bhonsle, Shiv Dayal Batish, Manna Dey, Mohammed Rafi and Sudha Malhotra sang what appeared to be a tough act to follow.

‘Na Toh Karwan Ki Talash Hai’ from ‘Barsaat Ki Raat’.

The efforts of these singers, however laudable, barely compares with Pakistani qawaal artist Aziz Mian’s non-film performance of the qawaali “Hashar Ke Roz Poochhoon Ga”, which clocks an incredible 115 minutes.

The story behind the feat is as interesting as the performance itself. After the ban of alcohol in Pakistan in 1977, it became increasingly difficult for Aziz Mian to sing his most well-known qawaali “Main Sharaabi” at concerts as police would raid the premises to check on men for drunken behaviour.

“Main Sharaabi” was the piece de resistance Aziz Mian used to perform to conclude his concerts. In 1982, at a concert where there were policemen in the audience, Aziz Mian decided to tire them out by singing “Hashar Ke Roz Poochhoon Ga” instead. The performance went on for a good 115 minutes, making the qawaali the longest in history.

‘Hashar Ke Roz Poochhoon Ga’.

Aziz Mian was born as Abdul Aziz in 1942. He lived with his family in the city of Meerut until his family migrated to Pakistan in 1947. Hailing from a musical family, Aziz Mian took to music from in his childhood, and trained with Punjabi qawaals at the shrine of the Sufi saint Data Ganj Baksh in Lahore. In 1963, he received a master’s degree in Urdu literature from Punjab University and began performing at local shrines.

Aziz Mian found fame when he wrote and composed “Main Sharaabi” in 1973. He developed his signature style of interspersing performances with an argumentative dialogue with God. His guttural voice and clarion call to the Almighty to take mercy on the frailty of humans drove his fans to disruptive behaviour at his concerts. Drunk men would get into brawls and the frenzy would soar, with Mian stoking it further through his musical incantations.

He was instrumental in taking the qawaali out of shrines to concerts, and when he performed a truncated version of the qawaali in the movie Licence (1970), his popularity grew further. This particular rendition inspired musician Susheela Raman to include a hypnotic cover version in her 2014 album Queen Between.

‘Main Sharaabi’...
... and Susheela Raman’s version.

Aziz Mian was honoured by the Pakistani government in 1989 for his contribution to the arts. His love for liquor began to take its toll on his health. He died of health complications during a concert tour in Tehran on December 6, 2000.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

When did we start parenting our parents?

As our parents grow older, our ‘adulting’ skills are tested like never before.

From answering every homework question to killing every monster under the bed, from soothing every wound with care to crushing anxiety by just the sound of their voice - parents understandably seemed like invincible, know-it-all superheroes all our childhood. It’s no wonder then that reality hits all of a sudden, the first time a parent falls and suffers a slip disc, or wears a thick pair of spectacles to read a restaurant menu - our parents are growing old, and older. It’s a slow process as our parents turn from superheroes to...human.

And just as slow to evolve are the dynamics of our relationship with them. Once upon a time, a peck on the cheek was a frequent ritual. As were handmade birthday cards every year from the artistically inclined, or declaring parents as ‘My Hero’ in school essays. Every parent-child duo could boast of an affectionate ritual - movie nights, cooking Sundays, reading favourite books together etc. The changed dynamic is indeed the most visible in the way we express our affection.

The affection is now expressed in more mature, more subtle ways - ways that mimics that of our own parents’ a lot. When did we start parenting our parents? Was it the first time we offered to foot the electricity bill, or drove them to the doctor, or dragged them along on a much-needed morning walk? Little did we know those innocent acts were but a start of a gradual role reversal.

In adulthood, children’s affection for their parents takes on a sense of responsibility. It includes everything from teaching them how to use smartphones effectively and contributing to family finances to tracking doctor’s appointments and ensuring medicine compliance. Worry and concern, though evidence of love, tend to largely replace old-fashioned patterns of affection between parents and children as the latter grow up.

It’s something that can be easily rectified, though. Start at the simplest - the old-fashioned peck on the cheek. When was the last time you gave your mom or dad a peck on the cheek like a spontaneous five-year-old - for no reason at all? Young parents can take their own children’s behaviour available as inspiration.

As young parents come to understand the responsibilities associated with caring for their parents, they also come to realise that they wouldn’t want their children to go through the same challenges. Creating a safe and secure environment for your family can help you strike a balance between the loving child in you and the caring, responsible adult that you are. A good life insurance plan can help families deal with unforeseen health crises by providing protection against financial loss. Having assurance of a measure of financial security for family can help ease financial tensions considerably, leaving you to focus on being a caring, affectionate child. Moreover,you can eliminate some of the worry for your children when they grow up – as the video below shows.


To learn more about life insurance plans available for your family, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.