An Interview with legendary musician Sajjad Tafu—A man who never gives up

Eurasia News

Interview with Sajjad Tafu—A man who never gives up against appalling circumstances

Interview with Sajjad Tafu---A man who never gives up against appalling circumstances
Interview with Sajjad Tafu—A man who never gives up against appalling circumstances

People know Sajjad Tafu as one of the leading personalities of entertainment and classical cum modern musical world of Pakistan. People know him as a man whose family ruled music in subcontinent since centuries. I know Sajjad Tafu who is my friend since 1982—the most oppressive time for culture and art —Pakistan faced during Martial rule of Ziaul Haq and people like Sajjad had been trying to keep music alive in Pakistan despite oppression surrounding musical world of Pakistan. We used to sit in Music Society of Government College Lahore (now Government College University) and enjoyed Tabla and guitar from Sajjad.

He has seen many upheavals in life but he is consistent to follow his passion—Music. He has been honoured with Tamgha-i-Imtiaz that is the one of the highest civil awarded granted by President of Pakistan last month.

Sajjad Tafu is taking Tamgha-i-Imtiaz from Governor Punjab that is the one of the highest civil awarded granted by President of Pakistan last month.
Sajjad Tafu is taking Tamgha-i-Imtiaz from Governor Punjab that is the one of the highest civil awarded granted by President of Pakistan last month.

He belongs to Mozang Gharana, a popular musical family of artists. He is specialized in classical and Sufi music performance on guitar along with western music. (Felmencho and jazz). Sajjad was born on March 30, 1957 in walled city of Lahore and got his early education from a regional Public school in his residential area and later went to Government College Lahore and completed his graduation there.

Sajjad Tafu interview

Sajjad started as a musician (guitarist) at the age of 14 from the Urdu featured movie “Aina” by playing guitar in the movie’s songs composed by Mr. Robin Ghosh and went on with several hit songs of Urdu movies working with legendary composers and singers of country. Lately, he started his career as solo Guitar performer featuring Ragas, Thumais, Folk and Ghazals on Guitar. Recognized his talent of composing and directing music and moved on by composing soundtracks.

Sajjad Tafu interview

After the downfall of Pakistan’s film industry from 1997 to 2009 he suffered financial crises. He struggled his way to success in the society where few people appreciated his talent. He joined Al Hamara Arts Council Lahore sin 2010 as a guitar teacher and since then he is educating youth of Pakistan with knowledge of music and musical instruments. Currently, he is also working at Radio Pakistan as Senior guitarist and composer.

Sajjad has started a welfare foundation for the artists in Pakistan who have suffered and are unable to earn due to the downfall of industry and intense media competition.

Sajjad Tafu interview 5

Sajjad is a fighter—A survivor and an inspiration for people like me in Pakistan who are trying to live with their ideas in oppressive atmosphere where survival of art and music is becoming harder by every passing day. Here is his latest interview with me.

Q. What you think about future of music in Pakistan? 

Where there is electronic media (Radio and television), there definitely exists a strong future of music. It will be wrong if anyone says that there is no future of music in this country. I, as a musician earned name and respect within this country. Future of all kinds of music folk, Sufi and Classical is bright in Pakistan.

Q. What changes you feel today compare to early 70s in the field of music, drama and film? 

Now the original instruments have been replaced by one single machine and sound system that creates electronic rhythm. The music today lacks authenticity and it does not give you the strong natural feeling that we all call food for soul. This element needs to be revived again by replacing the system with original instruments to have a long lasting effect on listeners.

Q. What are your dreams for you and for music in Pakistan? 

My dream has come true in my country as I have seen my struggle reaping fruits for me here. When I see people appreciating, swinging, enjoying and dancing on my solo guitar performance, when I see people enjoying instrumental music that I create for them —-it is the fulfillment of my dreams. In this country instrumental is not as common as in countries lies in the continent of Europe and America. Appreciation stirs an artist to struggle its way to success.

Q. Tell us about hurdles you faced in your life to reach this position?

The downfall of Pakistan’s film industry started in late 90s and there was no demand for songs by audience for which we could make a music tour. Music recording for movies frequently fell day by day and came to an end in 2005.

That was the darkest time of my life when I was unable to earn handsomely for my family. My children were getting their education. I sold my car to make sure their education must not stop. I was diagnosed with heart’s problem in 2006 and coronary arteries of my heart. I needed a by-pass surgery for my heart on immediate basis but I had no money. I met Dr. Shehryar Ahmad Sheikh at Doctors hospital Lahore. I told him that I was unable to afford expensive surgery. He cooperated with me and made arrangements with the hospitals for me and I paid only what I was able to pay.

My Surgeon Dr. Khalid Hameed and my Consultant D. Shehryar Sheikh prescribed me bed rest of three months after the surgery.

But after a month I somehow, managed to leave the bed and decided to go out to earn some money so my family would not have to face severity of bad times.

At bad times I never gave up even in the worst I kept on struggling and I always told myself that it’s OK— everyone see bad time. I never lost the hope. And now the time has come where I perform for the Punjab’s Youth and youth calls my name out loud there and dances on my tunes.

Q. What is your opinion about support from government to artists in Pakistan?

An artist does not need only a financial support it needs to exhibit its art and talent. Here, in Pakistan Government supports the Sports and games’ industry to a great extent. They are not only financially supported. Numerous funds have been established for the sportsmen and women. It’s a pity that there is no such promotional support exist for music in our country. Artists are not given that much care in comparison to a Cricket or a Hockey player in our country while musicians from other countries like Turkey, Italy, Germany, Morroco and India come to Pakistan to share their music and promote their musicians. Pakistan does not promote such cross cultural sharing of our folk, Sufi and classical music on international basis. Across the world music has the same language; there are no language barriers in understanding the different kinds of music. Our Neighbor country India is so much supportive to artists as they understand that there cultural music has earned their country immense fame all over the globe.

Government should support heritage of music and artists at international level our artist should visit and perform in foreign countries through government support. We have a variety of our Folk, Sufi and Classical music to show to the world that we are not incompetent in this field and we are a peace loving nation who admires the music and this art.

Q. How a musician can help for the betterment of society? 

Music and motivation to do well for society are the tools for the musicians they use to play a role of philanthropist in a society. I frequently make visits to Cardiology Hospital Lahore to see the children age 7-12 years old who are severely suffering from heart disease and have very low life expectancy left. I go there and perform music for these children in their wards. I sing their favorite songs and poems on guitar together. I want them to have fun in their little life as they cannot go out due to their illness. It gives me comfort when children smile and laugh while listening my music. Every time I go there, I find some faces missing because those children had died. This is life and life is not only smile but sorrows and tears.

Whereas, those patients who can survive and need money for their cure, I do charity concerts for fundraising and I receive a great response from people who come to the concerts and buy tickets for this noble cause.


Any message you wish to give to readers 

My message to the readers is to never lose hope, never give up to yourself. Allah (God) knows best for you and you will have it at the best time for you in the life. Do not rely on anyone but Allah (God) and believe in yourself if you can dream it you can do it. When you have achieved your goal, don’t forget to do good for the needy ones and be thankful always even in the worst. This will make you a different person with greater amount of tolerance that will not stop you from your way to success after the hurdles.

Interview by Agha Iqrar Haroon