Reshma (1947 – 2013) was a famous Pakistani folk singer who gained massive popularity for her mesmerizing voice. She received the third-highest honour and civilian award in Pakistan, Sitara-e-Imtiaz, and was also known as the nightingale of the desert. She recorded many folk songs for Pakistan Radio and is still remembered for her legendary songs in the Pakistani and Indian film Industry. People still recall her for her famous song, Lambi Judai.
Reshma was born in 1947 (age 66 years; at the time of death) in a Banjara household in the Bikaner district of Rajasthan, India. She was one month old when her tribe relocated to Karachi after the partition of India. Her family did not pay much attention to her education. She had no training or family background in music. Still, she spent her early years singing at the shrines of Sindh, Pakistan. She gave her first singing performance in 1965 when she was 17 years old.
Family & Ethnicity
Reshma belonged to a Muslim family.
Parents & Siblings
She was born to Haji Muhammad Mushtaq, a horse and camel trader. Her father was from Malachi, Iran, and they belonged to a tribe that converted to Islam. She also had a younger sister named Kaneez Reshma.
Husband & Children
Reshma had three children, Umair (son), Sawan Ali (son), and Khadija (daughter). Her son Sawan Ali married Mehru Reshma who once performed at Lok Virsa as the son and daughter-in-law of the famous singer.
She was discovered by a local producer Saleem Gilani while she was singing at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalander. He offered her to record a song for Pakistan Radio. Her first recorded song, Laal Meri Pat Rakhio, became very popular, and this song paved the way for her singing journey.
She earned fame and worked in both the Pakistani and Indian Film industries. She is the voice behind many popular songs including Ankhiyaan Nu Rehn De, Sada Chidiyaan Da Chamba Vey, Oh Laal Meri, and Haaye Oh Rabba. Her famous song Ankhiyan nu rehen de ankhyan de kol kol was used by Raj Kapoor in his movie Bobby as Ankhyon ko rehne de ankhyon ke aas pass, which was sung by Lata Mangeshkar. The depth and quality of her voice influenced filmmaker Subhash Ghai to use her voice in his movie Hero for the popular song Lambi Judai. She also performed live in India when India and Pakistan allowed the exchange of artists. In 2004, she recorded a song, Ashkan Di Gali Vich Mukaam De Gaya, for the Bollywood film Woh Tere Naam Tha. She was the voice of peace who became the inaugural passenger of the Lahore – Amritsar bus.
Reshma once said,
the borders do not matter to me… because, an artist belongs to all.”
She was once invited to meet the Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi for her legendary work. Reshma suffered from throat cancer and that was the reason why she took a long break from singing.
Reshma suffered from throat cancer for a long time and was in coma for a month when she passed away. She was admitted to Lahore’s Doctors Hospital on 6 April 2013. She lost all her wealth till the time of her death and the Government of Pakistan decided to pay all her medical expenses. But unfortunately, she could not be saved.
After her death, her friend and renowned folk singer spoke about her to the media and he said,
Reshma was a magician who could kill with her voice. She was the first lady of Pakistani folk music.’
Awards & Honours
- In 1982, she received the Pride of Performance Award from the Government of Pakistan.
- In 2008 she received the Sitara-i-Imtiaz award, also known as the Star of Excellence award, by the President of Pakistan.
- Food: Reshma was fond of vegetarian food and loved eating saag with makai roti and Missi roti.
- Song: Qawwali Shehbaaz Qalandar and Rasik Balma
- Musician: Naushad
- Singer (s): Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar
- In contrast to her culture, she was a vegetarian by choice.
- She began singing at the age of 12.
- She was a famous singer who was also known as Bulbule Sehra.
- She always dressed in Salwar Kameez and always kept her head covered with her dupatta. She was a gifted singer and always avoided histrionics in her performances.
- She always sang in open and was really frightened when she saw a recording studio for the first time. The Radio Pakistan producer Sarvat Ali Khan said,
She refused to enter the studio, and said a man was standing inside, referring to the pillar-like structure that was actually the microphone.’
- After recording her first song for Pakistan Radio, she and her family ran away in fear and could not be tracked. After hearing about the popularity of the song, they returned back for Reshma’s career.
- At the time of her health crisis, the President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf helped her and provided financial aid of Rs. 1 crore to pay off a bank loan.