Qayamat (1978) appears to have been a B-grade picture with no superstars. The leading lady Najma was referred to as a known, as opposed to well-known, artist, in her obituary. Her sister, on the other hand was Asha Posley, one of Pakistan’s most famous female actors in the years following the Partition. Ghulam Mohiuddin, the male star, had a better run in his career, which spanned 400 plus films.
The music of Qayamat was composed by Khalil Ahmed, a veteran of the industry but nowhere as influential, prolific or creative as peers such as M Ashraf, Sohail Rana or Nisar Bazmi. Ahmed was born in Agra, India but migrated with his family to Pakistan in the wake of the upheaval surrounding Independence in 1947. By the early 1970s, Ahmed was making a name for himself in the new medium of television, where he was the musical mastermind behind several shows, the most famous being Sangat, which began its run in 1972.
Those who worked with Ahmed recall someone who worked passionately but also very quickly. He would sketch out a melody line and then get a Spanish guitar or harmonium player to fill it out. Soon percussion was included and a lovely melodious folk or pop tune emerged.
Ahmed’s favorite singer, and one for whom he often composed, was the great Ahmed Rushdi, who sang for him in the 1965 blockbuster, Kaneez. Though TV appears to have been his main area of activity, Ahmed didn’t abandon film work altogether.
Nain Kissi Se Milaye (Make Eyes at Someone) from Qayamat is a perfect example of Ahmed’s adept pop style. This is a 3.5-minute, fast-moving pop song with a wonderful hiccup-like beat, which singer Nighat Akbar vocalises to great effect. Synths were all the rage in Lahore at this time. They appear to have done the work of many dozens of instruments and eventually played a critical role in the disempowerment of thousands of lifetime musicians who depended on the film studios for their bread and butter.
In this song, a warm liquid electronic pulse complements a steady, snappy, mid-pace drum beat that delivers a tightly wrapped little musical lolly. The tune is catchy, the singing is infectious and the only real complaint is that the fun is over just as we are hitting the dance floor.
Nate Rabe’s novel, The Shah of Chicago, is out now from Speaking Tiger.
A version of this story appeared on the bloghttps://dailylollyblog.wordpress.com/ and has been reproduced here with permission.