Iqbal Bano, 1935-2009

Posted by sepoy on April 21, 2009 · 2 mins read

My first cassette, paid for, was Iqbal Bano sings Faiz which was put out by Shalimar Recording. That summer, I think it was a summer, I was obsessed with Faiz's Dast-i Saba (1952). That dog-eared, tea-stained, copy still sits on my shelf, with pages marked and poems underlined. In that collection is the poem Yaad (Memory) which I saw being performed by Iqbal Bano on PTV. And I rushed out to purchase Bano's music.

In the desert of solitude, o love, quiver/the shades of your voice, your lips' mirage/In the desert of solitude, underneath the dirt of distance/blossom the flowers and roses of your presence

Iqbal Bano's voice, especially on the cassette version, gorgeously quivers when she begins the last stanza. Is kadar pyar se, ai jan-e jahan, rakha hai/dil ke rukhsar pe, is waqt, teri yaad ne hath (With such tenderness, o love, has placed/your memory, its hand on heart's cheek). Pyaaaar - se. I love that soft elongation, imbued with longing, that word. And going into the hopeful last two verses, she picks up the tenor. You have to hear it.

You can see her give a live rendition here:

Another amazing rendition is from a live concert where she sang Faiz's Hum Daikhain Gaiy.

Iqbal Bano came from a classically trained school (I believe the same as Begum Akhtar?) and was renowned not only for singing Faiz (which she did, a lot) but Persian ghazals of Hafiz and Bedil (very popular in Peshawer). If curious, you can peruse and buy at Amazon. Especially the Meri Pasand vol 1 or 2.

Iqbal Bano belonged to an elite group of Pakistani vocalists, Mehdi Hassan, Farida Khanum, Amanat Ali Khan, Ghulam Ali who were all contemporary to Noor Jahan (though, never reaching her heights). They kept the fine art of ghazal singing at the forefront of Pakistan's cultural production throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s. One hopes those oaks have sprung new branches.


Xeb | April 21, 2009

I love Iqbal Bano! I love Hum Dekhain Ge best followed by Dasht-e-Tanhai (ofcourse)! :)

Ali | April 21, 2009

A sad loss indeed. (As a side note, when it comes to ghazal, IMHO, Mehdi Hassan is in a class of his own.)

Jawad | April 21, 2009

Nice tribute. And then you end with a bizarre paragraph of blasphemy. You left out on Nusrat FAK, quite possibly the greatest vocalist of all time, of any nationality, in any genre. None of these people reached the heights of Noor Jahan? What did she ever do besides sing tacky war songs for Field Marshal Ayoub in her mediocre voice? Wasim Akram was good, but he never reached the heights of Rana Naveedul Hasan. What?

sepoy | April 21, 2009

Leaving NFAK out was deliberate. He is indeed in a class of his own. The rest I stand behind. Rana Navedul Hasan. Ha!

Nostalgic | April 21, 2009

Another one goes... Ahmed Faraz, Khalid Hasan, Iqbal Bano... the last few months haven't been the best have they? In a way it is just as well, they were spared the heartache of having to see our country go the dogs... I recall seeing a few interviews of Iqbal Bano's about ten years or so ago... she wasn't just a singer, but a connoisseur of fine poetry and a fine example of the famed sophistication of North Indian Muslim Urdu speakers that uncouth Punjabis like myself so envy ;)... (tongue in cheek here... no attacks please!) She was also a stickler for discipline from the audience in her performances... she was known to stop singing and glare at any audience member found not paying attention or talking... There is an anecdote in our family about two of my uncles going to attend an Iqbal Bano performance... one is an amateur semi-classical singer, and he dragged the other one along, who then made the mistake of requesting Iqbal Bano to sing Amanat Ali Khan's rendition of "Insha Jee Utho"... it is said that Iqbal Bano gave him a long, hard look dripping with utmost contempt, and then turned to some one else... Rest in Peace! In more bad news, Mehdi Hasan is too ill to recognize anyone, and his family say they have depleted all their savings... there has been some help from the federal government and the Sindh and Punjab governments but its a case of too little too late... ******************* On a happier musical note, please vote for Faraz Anwar in Guitar Idol... Malmsteen-inspired metal may not be everyone's cup of tea, it certainly isn't mine, but he is an accomplished player and a mainstay on the Pakistani rock scene... he is currently third in the final heat, but our votes can take him to the top... for background and links go here:

links for 2009-04-21 « Rumblegumption | April 21, 2009

[...] Iqbal Bano, 1935-2009 [...]

Alex | April 22, 2009

We've created an online tribute to Iqbal Bano so fans can leave memories of her:

paateykhan | April 24, 2009

I think in semi classical female ghazal singers she was second to none but farida Khanum. Ofcourse she, like any artist of that stature, was unique. Noor jahan was the best female singer of pakistan. Only Roshan Ara Begum stirs, pounds, drowns my heart other than Noor jahan ( i may very well be accused of having a punjabi heart). i loved Iqbal Bano. I loved everything she did. I loved it when she used to get eager or even anxious while singing certain parts of poetry. When she sings, "Yoon gumaan hota hay, ger che hey abhi subhe firaaq, dhal giya higr ka din aa bhi gai wasl ki raat". Her body laguage used to change. You can just tell that she is dreading that people are gona miss it. She used to turn into a dancer, using every limb of her body to convey the message.

waqas | September 20, 2009

i love all ghazals of bano. particullarly she sang nasir kazmi in a feeling of sorrow and greif.

vicky | October 01, 2009

first time in my childhood i heared Bano's Dagh e dil hum ko yaad any lagy. i was so impressed that i became a hot fan of her. when i listened her more i loved her more. some of her ghazals are my most favorat like "Taskeen ko hum na roen" by Ghalib "kuch tu ehsas e zian tha pehly" by Nasir Kazmi "dashet e tanhai "by Faiz and Dagh e dil by Baqi Siddiqi. i miss her so much.

Comment | December 03, 2013

Most singers have their signatures songs; Dasht-e-tanhai is one of the Iqbal banu's. I can not imagine if anyone else could sing better than her this particular song especially having Faiz's poetry weight on the back; Each line in lyrics clearly described Faiz loneliness behind the bars. Last but not least-Just need a rainy day with a Cup of tea and an eye to steer outside of a window to understand this song. If i am not right- you try it yourself.