Voice against oppression
Like many others I also love the heart-touching and soothing ghazals of Mehdi Hasan. One of my favourite numbers from among his numerous songs is:
'Raqs zanjeer pehen kar vi kiya jaata hai….”
(One can also make to dance in shackles…)
The other day when I was listening to the above song of Mehdi Hasan, a legend associated to this particular number flashed across my mind. Some may know about this while others may not…so I would like to share. The legend goes something like this During the dictatorial regime of General Ayub Khan in late sixties, Iran's Shah Pehalvi came on a visit to Pakistan. Ayub Khan asked the then most popular film actress Neelo to come and perform for Shah Pehalvi. But Neelo refused to come and perform. Neelo's refusal made Ayub Khan and Co. much angry. Police was sent to bring Neelo. On this, Neelo was terribly disturbed and tried to commit suicide.
Realising this odd incident, Habib Jalib a reputed Urdu poet wrote a poem titled “Neelo”. Neelo's husband, a prominent writer, producer and film director Riaz Shahid adopted the poem as a song for his box office hit film “Zarqa”. He recorded the song in Mehdi Hasan's voice.
Then many days had passed, so many general came and gone in Pakistan, but the legend remained vivid. And the song “Raqs zanjeer pehen…” is still played and heard by the people in the sub-continent and outside. It is a popular song symbolising voice against oppression!