Junaid Jamshed: The One who chose the Path less Trodden

Junaid Jamshed’s song “Hum Kyoun chalain uss Rah par” literary translates into English Why should we choose the path more often travelled let’s take the path not travelled. The lyrics of this song bear some similarity to Robert Frost’s “The Road not taken.”  This particular song not only seems interrelated with Forest’s Poem but appears relevant to Jamshed‘s own life. Junaid Jamshed, who once was a huge pop icon and rocked large crowds on due reflection, left his music career and became a devout preacher.

It is obvious that he was one of the trendsetters of western pop music in Pakistan. The eighty’s marked the beginning of western music in Pakistan. According to “The Telegraph”, Jamshed and his four band mates were just University graduates when he became notable, particularly for frequently singing George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” on campus. Before joining, Vital Signs in 1987 Jamshed not only worked as an engineer in the Pakistan Air Force but in the meanwhile sang in various musical bands. Vital Signs after ruling Pakistan’s underground music scene in no time gave their first massive hit Dil Dil Pakistan in 1987.After rendering the song Dil Dil Pakistan Vital Signs was raised to a cult status in Pakistan. Junaid Jamshed and his band members Shahzad Hassan, Rohail Hyatt and Salman Ahmad became one of the most recognizable faces of the nation. The band members after acquiring immense fame shifted to Karachi and began to enjoy their new rock star status. Vital Signs toured extensively around the world in the nineties and rendered many hit songs.  According to Dawn the band recorded their first album in 1989 by that time Salman Ahmad an extraordinary talented guitarist had replaced Nusrat Hussain. The report further informs that there were rumors of rivalry between Hyat and Ahmad consequently the latter was replaced by Rizwan- ul- Haq. Vital Signs managed to get a high –paying contract from Pepsi Pakistan. The success of Vital Signs encouraged a mushroom growth of other musical bands hence the music scene became increasingly competitive.

According to Dawn Rizwan-ul- Haq was replaced by Amir Zaki who left in a huff just after recording two songs and was later replaced by guitarist Asad Ahmad of Awaz band. Vital Signs finally split in 1998 after enjoying the iconic status of being labeled the “Beatles of Pakistan.”  As stated in “The Telegraph” Jamshed had already embarked on a successful music career five years before the band had dismembered. After giving “Us rah Par” in 1999 Jamshed released two records in 2000 and 2001 that hardly managed to get good reviews from critics.

Junaid Jamshed born on 3rd September 1964 publicly confessed that he had been a sinner and announced his decision of quitting music forever in 2004. According to “The Telegraph” after abandoning his music career Jamshed got associated with several diverse ‘businesses such as fashion design, travel agency and high end butcher’s shop’. According to BBC News “Sonya Fatah a Delhi –based writer and Film maker” informed that by late 90’s Jamshed was frustrated over the loss of his commercial popularity. Fatah who had interviewed Jamshed in 2012 disclosed that the “changing music landscape” coupled with his inner turmoil had left him totally confused by 2003.

In the second phase of his life Jamshed not only travelled across the world as a preacher but also frequently appeared on television ‘hosting many shows and Ramadan transmissions’. Jamshed had been extremely successful in his clothing business. According to a senior fashion writer Maliha Rehman J. brand currently has 100 stores. As stated in the official website the brand has 57 stores country wide whereas the rest of the stores are in US, Middle East and Melbourne Australia.  It seems obvious that one major reason for J. brand’s rapid expansion as compared to its competitors was Jamshed’s admirable public persona.

 Junaid Jamshed died on 7th December 2016 in a fatal air crash while returning from Chitral were had had been preaching. The ill- fated PIA flight Pk-661 carrying 48 passengers and crew crashed near Havelian instantly killing all on board. His remains after being identified by dental and facial x-rays were brought to Karachi from Islamabad ‘on board a C-130 plane’. His untimely death was mourned by millions of admirers all around the world. Thousands of mourners from all walks of life gathered at the AKD Ground in Karachi to offer his funeral prayers. Junaid Jamshed will always be remembered for his diverse contributions for Pakistan as he was a gem of our society.

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