Ibad gives $50,000 to Alamgir: Ailing pop star sings at media event
KARACHI: It was meant to be a press conference but turned out to be a moving event of sorts. Despite one or two touchy moments when he had a lump in his throat and a teardrop was about to roll down his cheek, the pioneer of Pakistani pop music, Alamgir, looked and sounded in his element while addressing the media at the Arts Council Karachi on Monday.
He told journalists that before coming to the Arts Council he had just undergone dialysis which was why he was feeling a bit weak, was not properly dressed up and had put on his chappals instead of shoes. He had been to the Governor’s House in the same attire, he added.
Alamgir then announced he would give a khushkhabri (good news) to the media. He said a few years back his kidneys stopped functioning.
He needed a kidney transplant. He went to the United States, and while 80 per cent of the cost was covered by insurance, the remaining 20 per cent was difficult for him to afford. An amount of $100,000 was required for treatment and he had somehow accumulated $35,000 but was worried about the rest of the amount.
He said Karachi Arts Council president Ahmed Shah called him up and said he would do something about that. Mr Shah got in touch with the Sindh governor after which the governor met Alamgir and gave the singer $50,000 for his treatment. Alamgir claimed it had made him happy and now he felt that he could go through the transplant process without much hassle.
Replying to a question, Alamgir said in 2004 he came to know that in a few years’ time his kidneys would fail. He had no idea that how long he would live, because in the US they did not allow anyone to go for a kidney transplant until the patient had $20,000 for drugs or medicines alone. So it was that serious a matter.
Speaking about the way he was welcomed in Pakistan on his recent trip, he said people showered so much love and affection on him as if he had never left the country. Going down memory lane, in an unpretentious manner, he said he went to the Jheel Park in Karachi where he in his struggling days as an artiste had slept for three nights. And when he got his first gig as a singer, he considered the dinner that he had afterwards his remuneration.
Responding to a query about Pakistan’s current pop scene, Alamgir said Atif Aslam and Ali Zafar had brought back melody into pop music; otherwise it was all about mindless loudness. He also praised Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Shafqat Amanat Ali. He said in India music buffs were so educated that they would go to an Ustad Rashid Khan concert in droves and then attend a rock or pop show with the same fervour.
He, however, conceded that India followed Pakistan’s pop scene.
The climax of the press conference was when Alamgir sang a Pankaj Malick song ‘Ye raatein, ye mausam’. He sang it with such passion (and correct cadences) that members of the media gave him standing ovation. He rounded off the programme with a dua that he had learnt from a Kuwaiti qaari while performing Umrah.
The Arts Council president told the media that apart from Sindh’s governor he was in touch with the provincial culture department to seek support for Alamgir.