Sultan Arshad Remembered

By Junaid W. Zuberi | June 2023

The National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) Karachi paid glowing tributes to Sultan Arshad, a senior musicologist and an authority on the film music of the subcontinent, who breathed his last in April. Titled “Remembering Sultan Arshad – Memories and Music,” the memorial event featured his close friends and associates sharing their memories and singers from the Amateur Melodies, a music club co-founded and ran by Sultan Arshad, singing some of his favourite melodies.

In his welcome address, Junaid Zuberi, CEO, NAPA, said the best way to remember Sultan Arshad is to carry on the work he was so passionately doing to promote film music. Senator (Retd) Javed Jabbar, who is also a member of the board of directors at NAPA, spoke about his long association with Sultan Arshad and called him an encyclopaedia of film music of the Indian subcontinent. Javed Jabbar highlighted the extensive research spread over years that Sultan Arshad single-handedly undertook to compile the tome titled ‘101 Melody Makers.’ He said it was the first time that someone from the subcontinent actually researched to dig out the names of the instrumentalists in the original orchestras of popular film songs and give them due credit.

Sultana Siddiqui, President, Hum Network, reminisced two decades of her association with Arshad at Hum Network. During his tenure with the network, according to Sultana Siddiqui, Arshad produced music programmes in which he introduced talented new vocalists. She said Sultan Arshad was a quiet person of impeccable values and was totally devoted to music.

Iqbal Saleh Mohammad, Chairman, Paramount Books, traced his long friendship with Sultan Arshad and shared anecdotes highlighting his humility and sense of humour as well as his passion for music. He said Sultan Arshad himself was a singer but never promoted himself as a talented singer. Rather, he used his craft to polish and train new and amateur singers.

Senior musicologist, author and advisor on Classical Music, NAPA, S. M. Shahid read out a brief article he had written in memory of Sultan Arshad. He spoke about his long association with Arshad and said music was in his genes. S.M. Shahid lamented how people are not given their due recognition and encouragement in their lifetime and it is only when they leave that they remembered by the society. S.M. Shahid had designed a brochure on the life and memories of Sultan Arshad that was handed out to the audience. The brochure also carried some memorable pictures of Sultan Arshad with iconic music composers and poets he personally knew.

Businessman, vocalist and music aficionado Nadeem Omar also spoke about his family’s association with Sultan Arshad and mentioned that it was Sultan Arshad who encouraged him to start singing.

Later, singers from the Amateur Melodies, a music club co-founded and ran by Sultan Arshad, sang a few of his favourite songs. Singers included Ameer Ali, Imrana Naeem, Kamran Saggu, Pervaiz Rahim and Sultan Shehryar Khan. Before singing the songs, each singer remembered Sultan Arshad and spoke about their close association with him and the mentoring they received from him all throughout their musical journey.

The befitting tribute evening ended with a note of thanks by Junaid Zuberi, CEO, NAPA. He informed the audience that Chairman NAPA Board of Directors Syed Jawaid Iqbal and Board Member and Ex-Chairman Mr. Tariq Kirmani who were traveling abroad had sent their condolences to the family expressing their regrets at not being able to attend. They highlighted the services of late Sultan Arshad and reiterated that his loss will be felt for a long time to come.

The evening was attended by a cross section of people including friends and family members of late Sultan Arshad, media persons, members of NAPA and many others. Veteran TV actor Shakeel, who is incapacitated and wheelchair bound, also attended the evening. Guests who later recorded their sentiments spoke of how important it was to remember an icons like Sultan Arshad.