KARAN KHAN –  Raising Pashto Music to New Heights

The onset of 21st century in Pakistan has given birth to a communication age which has resulted in a number of private channels, getting on air, both at regional and national levels. This influx of TV Channels, on one side has proved a plate form for new talent and on the other side has also brought about a taut competition whereby a number of Pashto singers have tried their luck. Very few among these new singers have made it. Karan Khan is one of them who in a very short span have shot to the new heights of fame and prominence. He has been plying his trade since 2009, and has earned his big break by singing not only the veteran poets like Rahman Baba, Khushal Khan khattak and Sahib Shah Sabir but has also given verve to modern day poets like Israr Atal, Usman Ali Usman, Iqbal Shakir, Amin Tanha and Pir Mohammad Karwan. The most outstanding achievement of Karan is also the introduction of new genre of poetry into the music such as Qawali, Tappaezy, Takorezy and Taskeney which has flavoured the Pashto music with a new taste. Along with his prominence and fame as a singer, Karan is also known as a talented Compare and Producer of television, radio and stage as he has undertaken different assignments on almost all the T.V and F.M. radio stations of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Afghanistan. Like a wild flower, which sprouts from the virgin soil and blossoms to full ambience untended, he has became one of the most sought after Pashto singer in the recent years.

Born in April 1980 at Tendo-dag, Ballogram Village of District Swat, Karan passed his matric examination form his village school and completed his graduation from University of Malakand and did his Masters in Pashto Literature. Though currently entertaining his fans with his melodious voice, Karan is still in the learning process as he has undertaken his Ph.D. on the Pashto Literature at the Department of Pashto, University of Peshawar.

From the very beginning, Karan had developed a flavour for music. He had a natural flair for singing as he would used to take part in Singing, Naat and Qirat competitions during his school time. He used to play different musical instruments stealthily at that time as it was difficult for him to play these instruments openly due to the religious commitments of his family.

At university level, when Karan was away from his family’s customs, norms and values, he started giving full intention to this art. As a first step he started attending music lessons from A.R Anwar Ustad (Sargam Guide Musical Academy), & Sher Jan Ustad in Swat and learnt playing different musical instruments like Guitar, Rabab, Sitar and Harmonium etc. But the break through occurred in his life when Karan came to Peshawar for his Masters Degree and joined PACT Radio where he got acquaintance with Mohammad Israr Atal, a young and promising poet of the modern days. At PACT Radio, Atal provided Karan a plate-form to nurture his singing career as he had a chance to meet the other well known singers and musicians.

The major feature, which became the hallmark of his singing, was the selection of poetry for his songs. Karan has always given due consideration to the poetry for his compositions and has tried to avoid meaningless poetry, unlike many current singers. Having inclination towards literature, he selected genre like romanticism and mysticism and that too were presented in an innovative style that is why these trends were acknowledged by the masses immediately. They started listening to him, not only for his melodious voice but also for his selection of the evocative poetry. Karan had always focused on the content of poetry along with music, as he believed that quality poetry is must for quality music. It is this attribute which has made his singing popular in the masses in a very short span. From the very beginning, Karan had an inclination towards mysticism and romanticism that is why when he read the poetry of Israr Atal, he found so many shades in his poetry– ranging from peace, love, freedom, nationalism, scepticism, aestheticism, love of God, land and people, the mysteries of life and death, the joys of communion, and the woes of separation to beauty. This made Karan to sing Atal’s poetry in the beginning which developed a strong bond between the two just like the bond which existed between Ghani Khan (poet) and Sardar Ali Takkar (singer).

Karan though sang different types of poetry such as Ghazal, Azad Nazam, Tappey and Rubahis but he shot to fame by introducing new genre in Pashto Music called “Tappaezey” which got acclaimed in the masses so much that almost all other singers also tried to sing them. Tappaezey consists of five verses in the way that the first three lines are inclined to the last two lines which is a Tappa, i.e. an old genre of Pashto poetry. Most of the Tappaezey for Karan’s albums were written by Israr Atal who has worked a lot on this subject. Together they have also introduced another genre into Pashto music called Takorezey. Taking it a challenge to serve the Pashto music and raise it to new heights, Karan has also experimented on Taskeney and Attan.

Apart from singing new poets, Karan has also sung the old classical poets like Rahman Baba, Khushal Khan Khattak and Sahib Shah Sabir. He even introduced Rahman Baba’s poetry in the form of qawali which was admired by the Pashto music lovers all over the world. Karan also plans to commemorate many aged Pashto poets who are there in the business but haven’t been acclaimed for the poetry. In one such effort he arranged a musical night and released an album in remembrance of Sahib Shah Sabir. He also plans to hold such nights in connection with other poets such as Khatir Afridi, Habib Ullah Betab, Abdur Raheem Roghani, Tasken Manerwal, Akmal Lewaney etc.

Being optimistic of the current situations on the literary and poetic fronts, Karan describes that a poet/writer is regarded as an eyes of a nation and thus has a deep sight on each and every aspect of life. A poet feels happy when there is happiness in his surroundings and also he is grim when there is greif in his country. Therefore, Karan opines that despite the ongoing war in the Pashtoon Belt, Pashtoon poets have tried to raise voice against it in a way that each and every verse of the modern age Pashto poetry has carried positive thinking encompassing ideas like peace, love, imagination, happiness, glory, delightness, joys etc. But at the same time, he also seems perturbed with the present day Pashto music, prevailing in the market place, where by no heed is given to the selection of poetry and mostly substandard poetry is selected for singing. He considers it a serious threat to the Pashto music, which instead of promotion is causing huge loss to it. That is why he has always strived for the selection of best and meaningful poetry for his compositions.

Unassuming forthcoming and unpretentious, Karan is a born and self-taught vocalist whose vocal resources have equipped him to also fluently render songs in languages other than Pashto like Farsi and Urdu. He has so far released 13 albums, all of which have sold like hot cakes in the market and his fans always eagerly wait for his next album. The most prominent of which are wachey panre, bawar, intezar, sabawon, hindara etc He had also held different concerts not only in Pukhtunkhwa and Balochistan but also in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Sharjah and Oman.