Ali Azmat is not known for holding back when it comes to letting people know what he thinks — he certainly didn't when it came to taking a dig at Ali Zafar and the 2020 PSL anthem — but this time, his bold opinion has found little support. The Junoon singer had something very unkind and frankly offensive to say about Malika-e-Tarannum Madam Noor Jehan and his opinion wasn't appreciated by many people.
In an interview moderated by Ahmed Pansota and featured on The Current's YouTube channel, the musician and actor spoke on an array of topics including music and arts being an essential part of Pakistani culture. As far as it can be gauged, he was trying to make a comparison of today’s music scene with that of his childhood but the manner of expressing that included some very unnecessary comments on Madam Noor Jehan.
Azmat relayed an account from the eyes of his much younger self who would get annoyed turning on the TV and watching this “mai” (elderly woman) with her “full saari, huge earrings and face overdone with makeup” show up looking like a “kofta” (meatball).
Hearing this, the smiling host retaliated with “she was a great singer.” Azmat quickly responded with a “No, this is from when I was young when we’d accepted a different culture,” to which we say — well, then such commentary was not needed if it was indeed the opinion of a younger, less mature version of Azmat. Just because it was not possible for him to appreciate one of the most influential singers of those times doesn’t give him the right to make demeaning remarks. If that was his opinion as a young man, the far older and more mature version of Azmat should have known better than to voice it.
His insensitive interjections were used to draw a picture that made his acceptance of the MTV culture — the welcoming of which he demonstrated with a hugging motion — seem ‘reasonable’. The Coke Studio singer claimed that his own culture was not providing anything other than this “mai”, so making the other culture a norm became inevitable.
What fans and we don’t understand is why critique of someone’s physical appearance was needed to make a point on the music culture. It could’ve simply been expressed in words that did not attack anyone. A fan on Twitter expressed their disappointment at Noor Jehan receiving disrespect instead of recognition for her work.
Other fans also took to Twitter to express their outrage, defending the queen and calling Azmat's opinions “embarrassing”.
Another user pointed out how some celebrities just make such statements to stay relevant.
Some called it a publicity stunt.
While others asked whether it was time to cancel him.
The cheekiest response was by a user who, very strategically, highlighted generational gaps and called Ali Azmat the Noor Jehan of today. Minus the musical legacy… ouch.
Though we believe in freedom of expression, we also believe there is no justification for demeaning people. If you want to discuss musical eras, discuss Noor Jehan's music, not her appearance.