In the past few months, the issue of guns has become more and more prominent both in the west and in Punjab. People have been shot at weddings due to accidental fire, and artists shot at for not bending to the ways of those who wish to extort money from them.
Today we head back to an event in 1995. The murder of Dilshad Akhtar highlights the scary mix of alcohol and guns and how we as music fans were robbed of a unique talent.
Background: Dilshad Akhtar
Dilshad Akhtar was a hugely popular and famous singer in the late 80’s and early ’90s, his unique voice and singing style and made him “the” go-to singer for music fans who wanted to hear something that was uniquely Punjabi. Punjabi cinema at the time could not get enough of Dilshad, and neither could the listening public.
Dilshad was born into Punjabi music royalty, his father (Keere Khan) and uncle (Sabar Hussain Sabar) were deemed by many as the pillars of Punjabi gayaki. His sister Manpreet Akhtar whose biggest song was “Tujhe Yaad Na Meri Aaayi” was also extremely popular as was his cousin Sandeep Akhtar (who also passed away at a young age in 2011).
Having a famous father and uncle served Dilshad Akhtar well, he perfected his art. He was a model student in the art of gayaki. Yet both Dilshad and his sister did not choose to go into singing when they left school, Dilshad went to work for the Indian Food Corporation, but the lure of music and his passion for it was too much and he returned, thankfully for us.
Rise To Success:
Dilshad had a string of hits, Punjab (India and Pakistan) took him to their hearts, and Punjabi films which were massive at the time really did seem incomplete without a track from him, he was everywhere. Duets with all the leading artists at the time were nothing surprising, Dilshad was the king of the dukhi dil crowd.
Taking a booking for a wedding is nothing that would scare an artist, especially when the booking is for the son of a Punjab police officer (Swarn Singh Hundal), who had made the booking directly with Dilshad via a visit to his office.
As the event went on later and later, Dilshad had become anxious as it was time to leave, and he did have a booking the following day. Alcohol was flowing and the guests at the wedding were leaving, yet the groom’s father wanted to continue to celebrate his son’s wedding, and that involved making more and more requests, even for Dilshad to sing other artists songs.
“Nachchi jo saade naal” was a massive hit at the time by Hans Raj Hans, and the groom’s father had requested the song on two occasions, but was told that it was late and the song would not be performed as it was not one of Dilshad’s own tunes, after refusing for the third time, provoked over the refusal, the officer snatched an AK-47 from his bodyguard and fired at the singer.
Dilshad died on stage, the stage he had dedicated his life to, the stage which his father had dedicated his life to, was now the deathbed for the singer who had only gone to entertain guests at a wedding due to his amazing vocal ability.
“Aakhe lagg ni man tu fakkaran de kehne, zindagi de deeve sada balde nahin rehne.” – Dilshad Akhtar
Swarn Singh Hundal, the murderer, was dismissed from service and was jailed for a period of time (no actual length has been recorded), having not gone to Jail for the full period of his arrest. He was later reinstated as a police officer, he then retired as DSP in 2002.
After his retirement in 2002, the officer Swarn Singh Hundal shot himself with his double-barrel gun at his residence in Gopal Nagar and died. His wife alleged that he was under depression due to the CBI cases. Hundal was facing CBI charges regarding the killing of Gurmit Singh Sohal (Sikh Freedom Fighter) in a fake encounter, in addition to being named alongside other police officers reference several more fake encounters.
After The Shooting:
After the singer was murdered, Gurbhajan Gill, a former president of the Punjabi Sahit Akademi, said: “After the death of Dilshad Akhtar in 1995, fellow singers, including Sardool Sikander and Mohd Sadique, persuaded Manpreet to come forward and keep the family tradition alive. She started with small functions. Coincidently, the first song she sang on stage, which was originally rendered by her brother Dilshad, spoke about the reality of death “Aakhe lagg ni man tu fakkaran de kehne, zindagi de deeve sada balde nahin rehne.”
Singers like Kuldip Manak fought in parliament for the rights of other Punjabi singers but without any success. Thanks to the corrupt parliament and functioning of the system, only recently has it been stated that guns should not be allowed at weddings, with the onus on the wedding hall owners to police this and not the actual authorities.
Manpreet Kaur passed away in 2016 due to ill health, she had had a number of hits in both Punjab and Bollywood. She carried the torch for the family that had given everything to music, yet had lost so much to it!
She left us with many a classic, and this being her biggest feature on a Bollywood track:
One of our personal favourites here at Daily Ent. Xpress: #RIP Dilshad Akhtar You Are Missed By All