Tufail Niazi

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Tufail Niazi
Born 1916
Jallandhar, Punjab, British India
Died 21 September 1990(1990-09-21)
Islamabad, Pakistan
Genres Folk
Occupation(s) Folk singer

Tufail Niazi (Urdu: طفیل نیازی‎) (1916 – 21 September 1990) was a Pakistani folk singer whose songs include "Saada Chirryan Da Chamba Ae," "Akhiyaan Lagiyaan Jawaab Na Daindian," "Layee Beqadran Naal Yaari,Tay Tut Gai Tarak Karkey" and "Mein Nai Jana Kheriyan De Naal." He used to perform regularly on Pakistan Television (PTV) and Radio Pakistan.[1]

Early life[edit]

Tufail Niazi was born in the small town Madaira, Jallandhar, Punjab, British India in 1916. His was the only Muslim family residing in the otherwise Sikh village of Madaira.

Tufail's family and ancestors were "Pakhawajis." His ancestry included "Rubabis" who sang Gurbanis in gurdwaras. Tufail followed this family tradition and began singing Guru Nanak's bani at the gurdwara in the village of Pumba near Amritsar, where his maternal grandfather was employed as a rubabi. After spending three years in the village Pumba, he lost interest and his father, Haji Raheem Buksh, took him to Goindwal, near the town of Taran Taaran. Here, he joined the Gaushala singing party that went from village to village to spread the message of cow protection.

Pre-1947 career[edit]

Tufail lived in Goindwal for four years where he enjoyed listening to great performers at the 'chota mela' of "Harballabh". Held every year, these performances influenced his decision to stay in Goindwal.

After staying in Goindwal for a few years, Tufail first became a "Raasdhari," a street performer who drew large audiences with his combination of theatre, narrative and songs, which often drew inspiration from the life of Lord Rama. Tufail then joined a travelling theatre ("Nautanki"), and honed his theatrical and story telling skills by playing a hero in productions of famous Punjabi folk tales such as Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal, Sassi Punnu and Pooran Bhagat.

Post-1947 career[edit]

At the time of independence of Pakistan in 1947, Tufail Niazi, like all East Punjabi Muslims, was obliged to move from his ancestral lands. He relocated to Multan in Punjab, Pakistan, some 500 km west, where he opened up a milk shop. Lacking instruments, Tufail abandoned his musical career for some time. In 1949, a Multan police inspector who had known Tufail in East Punjab, recognised him and decided to help. He acquired instruments from the state government and organised a Mehfil (live concert) for Tufail, which introduced him to the people in Multan. The inspector's intervention revived Tufail's career and he began to perform in public again.

Radio and TV career[edit]

Tufail soon became well known in the cultural circles of Multan, and his success persisted. He started singing for Radio Pakistan and on 26 November 1964, the day Pakistan Television was inaugurated at Lahore, he was honoured to be the first folk singer to perform on-air that day. Tufail selected his famous song, "Laai beqadaran naal yaari te tut gai tarak kar ke," for this landmark performance.

Tufail Niazi was not Niazi by caste. Aslam Azhar, then PTV's senior producer and managing director, gave him the name Tufail Niazi because Tufail had told him that his peer was Hazrat Pir Niaz Ali Shah. Before this, Tufail had been known simply as Tufail, Master Tufail, Mian Tufail or Tufail Multani. Later, under Uxi Mufti, he worked tirelessly to help set up and sustain the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) in Islamabad, Pakistan. He travelled all over Pakistan to gather folk treasures. In recognition of his work, Tufail Niazi received the Presidential Pride of Performance Award in 1982.[2]

Death and legacy[edit]

A stroke left Tufail debilitated and unable to perform. He died on 21 September 1990 and was buried near Islamabad. But, unlike many of his counterparts, Tufail Niazi led a comfortable life till he died.

His two sons Javed and Babar Niazi have taken on their father's legacy and perform regularly on Pakistan Television, in the same manner their father did.[3] Renowned folk singer Tufail Niazi was paid rich tributes at a musical evening that was organised in his honour at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) on 30 May 2011.[4]

Musical style[edit]

Tufail Niazi was a folk musician deeply influenced by classical forms. His mastery of classical vocals, combined with a soulful melodic voice mesmerised audiences. The profound Punjabi Sufi elements in his storytelling, which was characteristic of his repertoire, together with his energetic singing while clothed in a Punjabi 'Lacha' and a silk 'Kurta', created the impression of a performer for whom art was inseparable from life. His singing was often intensely moving, as when he sang about the lives of Punjabi epic lovers, most notably Heer Ranjha, richly evoking their anguish against the setting of a Punjabi rural social environment.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QG-1xLyBhNw, Tufail Niazi being interviewed by the writer Mumtaz Mufti on YouTube, Retrieved 15 January 2016
  2. ^ http://folkpunjab.org/tufail-niazi/, Tufail Niazi on Folk Punjab website, Retrieved 6 February 2016
  3. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5f03n8Fw8U, Tufail Niazi's sons Babar and Javed Niazi performance on YouTube, Retrieved 6 February 2016
  4. ^ http://www.dawn.com/news/633528/tributes-paid-to-tufail-niazi, Tributes paid to Tufail Niazi, Dawn newspaper, published 1 June 2011, Retrieved 6 February 2016
  5. ^ http://apnaorg.com/music/tufail/, Tufail Niazi folk songs on Academy of the Punjab in North America [APNA] website, Retrieved 6 February 2016