Picture this: Buckingham Palace in 1977, Queen Elizabeth keenly watches a man dressed in bright clothes with a smile on his face and singing ‘malika teri silver jubilee ghar ghar log mananday ni, jithay goray kalay ral kay geet khushi day ganay ni.’
With a chimta in his hand, Alam Lohar asked the audience to clap along a Punjabi song. They didn’t understand the words by his soulful voice spoke to them and they followed his instructions.
This is when Lohar, the Lion of Punjab, was in the United Kingdom to receive a gold medal from the Queen. It was afterall her silver jubilee.
Alam, who was there with several other singers from the Commonwealth, also won an award for the best performance that day.
Born in 1928 in Achh, near Kotla Arab Ali Khan, Kharian Tehsil, Gujrat District of Punjab, British India. Lohar, as the name implies, was born into a family of blacksmiths.
As a child, he read Sufiana Kalaam, a collection of Punjabi stories and poetry and started singing from the age of eight.
What got him attention was his iconic chimta. The instrument which is used for making roti in kitchens had never been considered essential to music before, but Alam’s singing was incomplete without it. Soon, Alam became a household name across the country.
If you are a music fan, you must of heard a version (or the Coke Studio version) of Lohar’s hit song Jugni. The song took Alam’s career to new heights.
Since then, Jugni has been featured and recreated many times and in many films internationally.
In 1979’s film Khana Jangi Lohar also performed on his song Jugni in the film. Those who love the Punjabi language, adore Lohar.
You definitely don’t want to miss his version of Heer Waris Shah.
After performing in theatres, stalls and festivals with a simple chimta, Lohar quickly made his way to radio, TV and film.
In an interview with Radio Pakistan, Alam Lohar narrated an interesting story: “People from our village used to go to Lahore to work as labourers . One day someone from the city asked about me and said that they wanted to listen to a ‘dihati’ (villager) and people suggested my name. After which I was invited to perform in Mewa Mandi.”
Lohar remarked that, after his performance, someone approached him and offered to record a song on a plate [gramophone].
Failing to understand, Lohar thought he was asked to make a tawa because of his name the Lohar (blacksmith). It was later he learned that ‘a plate’ is used to record a song.
Just like that, Lohar recorded his first song at the age of just 15. After that he made it to Radio Pakistan and then there was no turning back.
He also recreated and sang verses of Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, Baba Bhulle Shah, Khawaja Ghulam Farid, Shah Hussain and Sultan Bahoka.
His famous songs include Ay Dharti Panch Dariya Di, Wajan Mariyan Bulaya, Mondhamar Ke Hala Gayi, Dil Wala Dukhra, Bol Mati Diya Bawaya, and Jis Din Mera Viyah.
Lohar’s song in Sultan Rahi and Mustafa Qureshi’s film “Boycott” was a massive hit.
The legendary singer passed away in a road accident back in 1979 and was succeeded by his son Arif, who has made a name for himself in the music industry.