Behind the tunes of ‘Bijja Teer Bijja’ – by Rafay Mahmood

Source: Express Tribune

KARACHI: Anthems constitute a major part of the music enfold in Pakistan and they alone sell more copies during election campaigns than a commercial album sells throughout the year. And now recent trends show that anthems come in all forms and tunes starting from the copy of Abrar-ul-Haque’s “Aaja Nee Baeja Cycle Tae” as “Laa Dae Ni Mohra Cycle Tae” for the Pakistan Muslim League(Q)  to “Mazloomon ka Saathi hai Altaf Hussain” a original tune made for MQM (Mutahida Qaumi Movement).

Both the melodies  resonate a new breed of anthems that have been around for more than two decades, but “Bijja Teer Bijja” the People’s Party election campaign song is a melody that has caught on with advocates and party recruits alike.

The anthem was first released in 1987 and as the 55 year old composer of the song, Zahoor Khan Zeibi continues to make melodies for a living, this speaks volumes about his passion for music and his loyalty to the Pakistan People’s Party(PPP), “Music was my first love and the Bhutto family my second  and that is why when the daughter of the nation was set to take over the leadership I sat down with the people of Noni productions and we compiled a set of five albums on our own for the PPP campaign  and since then “Bijja Teer Bijja” became an instant hit,” Zahoor told The Express Tribune.

“I had no money to get a professional singer so I made Shabana Noshi who was a dancer back then sing the song and released a compilation of 50 songs in five different albums,” added the composer. “My friends and fellow musicians were my canes, they held my hand and brought me to studio  and I am proud of the fact that I managed to pull of one of the most catchy tunes of Pakistan with no sight at all,” said the blind composer.

Contrary to Zeibi’s expectations the song did a lot for the PPP but the composers did not receive due credit.

In 2000 Zeibi got his eyes operated and then the third round for election campaigns began with Benazir Bhutto’s return and this time 5.5 million copies of his album were sold.

The musician continues to unravel his tale saying, “I bought a small plot in Gulistan-e-Johar in 1997 and a few months after the PPP took over, some Qabza group took over my plot. So I went to Faisal Raza Abid who passed me on to PPP’s Majik Gichki. When I reached the official he asked me for one million rupees to get my plot back,” said a disappointed Zeibi.

“Last year, two people came from Bilawal house and asked me to sign a form after which ‘Bijja Teer Bijja’ became a gift from my side to the PPP,” said the musician. On further enquiry Zeibi was told a documentary is being made on BB and hence, signed compliantly. However, one fine day Zeibi’s friend was browsing through the internet and saw a clip of Bakhtawar Bhutto singing “Bijja Teer Bijja”. When the musician found out and heard the clip, he said he was very happy.

“I wrote it for BB and her daughter was singing my words, what else would a PPP worker want from his work? Throughout my career had any of the PPP members supported me I would have not ended up living in a small house in Chakiwara Lyari,” said Zeibi.

Although Bhutto, the documentary, acknowledges Zahoor Khan Zeibi when listing final credits, Zeibi still has an appeal for President Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Yousaf Raza Gillani. ”Even the ones who chant slogans on rallies are rewarded but I never was, I never expected anything from the PPP and  I don’t want any reward from the PPP either, all I want is to get back my plot back from the Qabza group which I bought out of my earnings when I was blind,” said Zeibi.

Be It the PPP election campaign or the Sindhi Topi day, “Bijja Teer Bijja” has been religiously followed; it is still very catchy and makes everyone bustle in dances but it is unfortunate that legends like Zeibi never made it to the main stream.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2011.

Dila Teer Beja



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