Legendary Singer Reshma No More

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MUMBAI: Reshma, the talented folk singer from Pakistan passed away in Lahore today morning, November 3, 2013.

Her health has deteriorated to such an extent that she was hospitalised in Lahore, Pakistan at Doctors Hospital on 06 April, 2013. Reshma had been in coma for a month after being diagnosed with throat cancer years ago.

Reshma was born in Bikaner, Rajasthan to a Banjara (Gypsy) family around 1947. Her father Haji Mamad Mushtaq was a camel and horse trader from Malashi. She belonged to a tribe, which had converted to Islam. Her tribe migrated to Karachi shortly after the Partition of India. She did not receive any formal education and spent much of her childhood singing at the mazars (shrines) of the mystic saints of Sindh.

When she was twelve years old, she was spotted singing at Shahbaaz Qalandar‘s shrine by a television and radio producer, who arranged for her to make a recording of ‘Laal Meri’ on Pakistan radio.  This song became an instant hit and so did the little Reshma.

Some of her famous numbers are ‘Dama Dam Mast Kalandar’, ‘Hai O Rabba Nahion Lagda Dil Mera’ and many others.

The showman Raj Kapoor used one of her songs ‘Ankhiyan Nu Rehen De Ankhyan De Kol Kol’ for his film ‘Bobby’ which was sung by Lata Mangeshkar.

Reshma always wanted to perform in India and her wish came true in 1980’s when India and Pakistan allowed exchange of artists. Her fame sore rocket high when Subhash Ghai used her voice for his film ‘Hero’ and the song was ‘Lambi Judai’.

Reshma once said in an interview, “I was born in a family of saudagars in Rajasthan in a small settlement called Bikaner. I don’t know the year I was born but I was told that I was brought to Pakistan when I was a few months old in 1947. My family would take camels from Bikaner and sell them in other areas, and bring back goats and cows from elsewhere to sell at home. I belong to a huge clan of gypsies. We were forever travelling around. Though a lot of us have now settled and taken up permanent residences in Lahore and Karachi, whenever we feel restless we pack our bags and move on.”

Reshma is survived by a son Umair and daughter Khadija.