Dekha Na Tha: Never seen a cover like this

Published: February 15, 2012
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This has been a tough year for Alamgir .You all must be assuming that it’s all about his double kidney transplant and lack of funds but there seems to be a further complication: the QB and Bilal Khan cover of “Dekha Na Tha”. Let’s get this straight: I haven’t heard such a horrible cover in my life.

I first heard about this song from a female friend of mine who was obviously lauding Bilal Khan’s amazing vocal talent (not trying to imply anything here). For a moment, the thought of such a song humbled me too. Two of the newest talents on the block paying tribute to the legendary Alamgir had a hint of nostalgia, that too, of a song that laid the very foundation of pop music in Pakistan about four decades ago.

Unfortunately, I was curious enough to stream the song with almost 200,000 YouTube hits. And what I witnessed was two minutes of sheer nonsense.

To be exact, anyone who can tell black from white would never make Bilal and QB sing a duet. It’s as bad as watching Komal Rizvi sing “Danah Pe Danah” but she had Akhtar Chanaal to save the day.

Unfortunately, Khan’s auto-tuned vocals didn’t add anything significant to the song either. It was yet another “watch me” performance by him.

The beginning of the video is most interesting, where QB welcomes Bilal Khan into her house. He looks like her younger brother (such is the visible age difference), but thankfully the bouquet clarifies the confusion. After that she welcomes him into the house with a strange wink that makes you wonder what the hell they are upto – singing a song was not on the list of my wildest guesses.

Finally, the song begins and yes, Bilal Khan doesn’t sound like Bilal Khan. Such is the perfection of BK that he sounds like the robot version of himself. Even Coke Studio didn’t make him sound so unoriginal, but this was way too much.

But the best is yet to come. QB’s magical voice is the final nail in the coffin.

As soon as she starts, it seems like I am watching a “Humsafar” episode; her voice is so not made for a pop song. She tries hard not to sound like she is covering the great “Reshma” but unfortunately she fails – big time. By now QB should have realised that her scope as a vocalist is limited and she is definitely not a pop singer – she needs to get over it. She isn’t bad looking, but still is not pretty enough to get a cult following; her voice is and will always remain the first love of her fans.

She entered the industry as an immensely talented folk singer and all of her better songs fall in a similar genre. By doing such a horrid and, above all, branded song she has made a mess out of her image.

Bilal on the other hand, is young and so far going with the flow. Believe it or not, his charisma, age and face will always overcome most of his flaws and he will remain to be the most sought-after artist for college gigs. Musically, he is yet to prove himself – we have seen many one hit wonders before.

In a nutshell, the video lacks “Jazba”.

As far as the trend of redoing classics is concerned, the corporations shouldn’t bank on Alamgir’s name and classic significance. The legend is looking for gigs in the US to gather funds for his kidney transplant. I am not asking people to go out of their way to help him out, but if companies actually want to honour a musician, they shouldn’t just bank on half-hearted remakes on Valentine’s Day; they should instead bank on those that will actually help him.

Read more by Rafay here. 

Rafay Mahmood

Rafay Mahmood

The author is the Life & Style Editor of The Express Tribune. He tweets as @Rafay_Mahmood

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.