Thursday, April 29, 2021

Singer Ataullah Khan: Cult following in India and the urban legend about shooting the girl, recording from prison

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi 

Ataullah Khan, the folk singer from Pakistan, once used to have a cult following in India.

For decades, there was an urban legend, youths in any city would say--that Ataullah Khan had shot the girl whom he loved and who had cheated him to marry elsewhere.

People confidently told story about his hanging or pardon or how he was in jail, recording songs from there

I remember, many 'dil jale' youngsters spent precious years of their lives, listening to his songs, each & every day. It was said that 'T series cassettes' had got special permission to go to Pakistan to record him from prison. Worse, then the movie 'Bewafa Sanam' was released.

'Achcha sila diya tune mere pyaar ka....' was one of those songs that were played at eateries, tea shops, pan kiosks. Youngsters played them on their tape recorders or two-in-ones. It was a different era. Not everyone had girl friend.

A youth who felt that a girl cast a glance or smiled at him, once. He would imagine that she was in love with him. It was not the era of cell phones or even telephones. They remained obsessive about the girl and if she later ignored the boy, he would consider her a 'dagha-baz'. 

There was no dearth of such youngsters, in those days. The mohalla friends would know that the boy was after the girl and she had broken his heart. Sad songs and the image of Ataullah Khan taking revenge for a betrayal, were the medicine for these one-sided lovers too. 

Now, an interesting conversation:

"Kaa baat kar rahi ho buwa? Ataullah mar chuka hai?" -- '...Jis ladki se ye pyar karta tha, woh kisi aur se shadi kar lihis, ye ek dam gussa ho gaya. Katta le gaya, donon ko goli maar di, surrender kar diya. adalat phaansi ki saza suna dihis, tabhi to itna dard hai uske gaane mein"

That's how writer, Ashutosh Chacha, recalled how he got teary-eyed when his aunt told him this story, with conviction. It's published in Lallantop.  After internet came, it was found that this was untrue. He'd sung thousands of songs, was very much alive.