A video of a Qawwal performing what appeared to be Michael Jackson’s famous Billie Jean song on a harmonica started popping up on WhatsApp with the caption: Just a casual Qawwali Night in DHA.
The video had raked up 196K views and elicited 1.9K comments. But was it dubbed and doctored, or something that actually happened in Karachi?
Aaj News got in touch with the Qawwal, Aftab Khan sahib, who confirmed, that yes, that was him singing, but the video was about two years old.
The 55-year-old artist has been performing for over two decades and knows thousands of Western songs. Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean is among his favourites, which incidentally is also the most commonly requested songs. Thriller is another favourite but performing it requires a band. He loves performing George Michael’s Careless Whispers and will belt out Madonna, Carey Lewis and Roxette numbers if you ask nicely.
He usually performs solo but as Western songs require a full band, he puts together one when he gets a major gig.
A typical performance can range between two to three hours and his remuneration depends on the size of the event. He can charge as much as Rs150,000 for major mehfils.
Aftab was always musically inclined, having started out as a naat khwaaan in school and performing the national anthem but he went on to classically train for six years by Nisar Bazmi, whose compositions include evergreen hits such as ‘Aaj Janay ke Zid na karo’.
He is a contemporary of Sajjad Ali.