QUETTA: Some of the world’s best art is often produced at the darkest and most turbulent hour. So it is hardly surprising for a place like Balochistan, which has seen decades-long political upheaval and insurgency, to be left untouched by scars from those deeply traumatic events. Yet the music produced in the province, for the most part, has soared high above such considerations.
Baloch artists have been able to prove their mettle despite political uncertainty, sectarian violence, religious extremism and prolonged militancy. At the same time, local singers, musicians and dancers have been facing social and financial problems.
Mohammad Baloch, a 25-year-old Urdu pop singer from Panjgur district, said Balochistan has produced a league of artists who can sing a folk song with a western touch. Samples of such talent can be found in Quetta.
“There is no dearth of talent in the province, but deserving artists suffer from a lack of opportunity. Artists are popular and get support from the public, but all we lack is attention by the mainstream media,” he told The Express Tribune.
Baloch said he wasn’t inspired by anyone, but he knew that he got something very special to do. “When I won the first singing competition in my native institution, I realised that my God-given talent needed exposure and honed further. And I started learning from music teachers,” he said.
Just like other sectors in Balochistan, musicians do not have any high expectations at least from the officials concerned. “I will not appeal to anyone, but I will definitely say that artists are the backbone of a nation. Across the border we see that India is doing much better with music and artists than Pakistan,” he said.
Baloch has two official songs — Pari and Sajda – both of them available at social media sites.
“The media has always neglected the good part in the province and only negative sides are being portrayed which is disappointing.”
Banjo is a very common instrument worldwide, especially in the Asian Subcontinent. It is mostly used in classical music but can still be fitted into any genre.
Chakar Baloch, 28, belongs to Mekran. He is a banjoist, actor and music composer. Talking about the current state of artists, he said: “Getting overnight fame is not a big deal if you are sincere with your job.”
“Balochistan is a land where cultural norms and values are given more importance. That’s why cultural Baloch and Pashto folk music is admired most by the audience [together] with Indian and western songs,” he said.
“Some people are treating artists as their fiefdom and they have no interest with them which is very disappointing,” Chakar Baloch told The Express Tribune.
He considers artists as the most significant part of society because they entertain people with their talent. “Artists here do not get the respect they deserve even after entertaining people.”
Mimicry is the art of copying voices and accents of others which can’t be done by everyone. Rehmat Baloch, 25, from Hub is a mimic, singer and actor.
“Pakistani Nabeel Shaukat was my inspiration but from my childhood I liked music and sing by myself,” he told The Express Tribune.
“Authorities should sponsor artists to give them support and motivate them so that they can move forward and represent Balochistan internationally,” he added.
Beberg Baloch, 18, is a rapper and belongs to Quetta. He first began to do it in his native language, but now he has auditioned for the same in Urdu and English languages as well.
“NWA (Niggas with Attitude) crew was my inspiration and Ice Cube is my favourite rapper as I used to listen to them from my childhood. Then I started to write rhymes by myself,” says Beberg Baloch.
“I made my debut as a Baloch rapper that could be understood by people in the hood only but then I realised that if I want to give my message to everyone in the country, then I should chose a language which anyone can understand,” he said.
“I don’t care about fame and fortune it’s my passion and I will continue and will change the trend here as it is my mission being a rapper from a neglected territory,” Beberg Baloch said.
In Balochistan, western music is not enjoyed much but artists from the new generation are clearly enamoured. Meer Behroz, 17, can produce different instrumentals from the human voice.
“I belong to Quetta and it is difficult for me to survive here as a Beatboxer, because now I am the only one here but it’s my passion and I am doing my best to change the trend,” Behroz explained.
According to him, it is hard to produce instrumentals from the human voice, especially in front of a crowd. But, he says, if one gives their best then nothing is impossible.
Another issue is managing finances, he said, adding that despite getting pocket money as a student, he earns from online freelancing to manage his expenses.