Lit’Talks | 04 | Artists of South Punjab

In episode 4 of Lit’Talks, two aspiring artists of South Punjab joined us all the way from Layyah. Wardah Noor from Khudkaar hosted the session in collaboration with Daastan. The session is available in Saraiki to make it approachable for the people of Layyah. Moreover Wardah introduced the speakers with the concept of Layyah 2.0 and they seemed excited. So, let’s hear from the art progeny Zeeshan Manzoor and Sultan Manzoor about their artistic journeys. 

Artists from South Punjab

The beautiful land of Punjab births miracles. Infact, South Punjab is home to some of Pakistan’s greatest artists. However, the potential of so many people in Layyah remains untapped. Therefore, Layyah 2.0 is here to give voice to the hidden gems of South Punjab. Our Lit’Talks series is a small part of this initiative. It aims to bring the stories of Layyans to the world! 

Remembering Munshi Manzoor 

“Mere watan ye aqeedaten” is a national song that rings in the ears of every Pakistani. But do you know who wrote it? I guess not. Munshi Manzoor Sahab, the pride of our nation wrote this song. Late Munshi Manzoor was a poet from Layyah who spent his life in the pursuit of poetry. Undoubtedly, his art is a source of pride for the whole nation. Fortunately, Manzoor’s legacy didn’t end with him. He is the father of Layyah’s upcoming artists Zeeshan and Sultan Manzoor. 

Zeeshan remembering Munshi Manzoor

Zeeshan’s Poetic Journey 

“Baba always used to say that I would become a poet. After his death, I couldn’t let his name die. Hence, my inner poet awakened,” says Zeeshan. 

Zeeshan candidly and passionately talks about his journey as a poet. To him, poetry is another name for self-exploration. A tragedy sets in motion one’s artistic journey. Sometimes the muse is an estranged lover. And sometimes it’s a loved one gone too soon. In Zeeshan’s life, his father’s death prompted the birth of his inner poet. Zeeshan Manzoor is multitalented. He not only writes poems but has also written a beautiful love song. Our host, Wardah Noor also inquired Zeeshan about his song: 

“Somethings in life are predestined. My song is one of those things. I always wanted to write a song. However, Akhiyaan was conceived in a very short amount of time on a request of a contemporary.” 

Every poet looks up-to certain people. In Zeeshan’s case, his father Munshi Manzoor is his  inspiration. Apart from Munshi Manzoor, Zeeshan admires Allama Iqbal, Tehzeeb Hafi and Ata Ullah Khan.

Zeeshan on Poetry

For all the Saraiki fans, here are some beautiful words from Zeeshan,

“Asaan zamaanay tu haare lok aen, Asaan mohabbat tu maare lok aen.”  

“We are the people defeated by world, 

We are the ones bested in love” 

Struggles of Artists in Layyah

It’s no secret that time and time again people of South Punjab have been overlooked. Despite all their talent, they continuously have to fight even for the basic necessities of life. Layyah is no different in this case. Most of the population there lies below the poverty line. The reason for that is lack of resources. So, to expect recreational opportunities in an environment like that is next to impossible. Wardah asked Zeeshan about the difficulties faced by artists in Layyah. Here’s what said:

“There are rarely any opportunities for us in Layyah. Surely, there is a talent pool, but no resources. For instance, since my birth I have witnessed only one talent hunt.” 

Sultan Manzoor’s Journey

Being blessed with a melodious voice, Sultan decided to follow into his father’s footsteps. Hence, he chose arts. He recorded his first song Ankhiyaan in February, 2020. Prior to the release of song, Sultan felt motivated and demotivated at times. However, after the release he received a positive feedback from people. Sultan talked to Wardah about his recording process in following words.

“The process of composing a symphony is a difficult process. But it is not without its charms. It was challenging to perfect a melody that suited my personal style. Therefore, I took all the professional guidance I needed in order to learn.” 

Vision of Layyah Art Council 

In 1991, Munshi Manzoor laid the foundations of an art council in Layyah. However, it was a distant dream at that time. Now decades later, unfortunately Layyah is still struggling to put itself on the creative map of Pakistan. To help with this problem, Khudkaar and Daastan  aim to establish an Art Council in Layyah. The first seeds of this initiative were sown by Wardah in February, 2021 on the inauguration of KhudKaar House. KhudKaar House is the first community centre in Layyah started with the purpose to provide quality life to the people of Layyah.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Lit’Talks!

Noor Hashmi
Noor Hashmi is a student of literature at Numl University. She is an aspiring poetess. She runs a blog by the name of “Diaries of Huda” sharing her journey through poetry. In her free time, she loves to paint and bake.

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