A Forgotten Star Of Lahore - Singer Tamancha Jan

Qasim Khan Lahore

Tamancha Jan was born in 1918 as 'Gulzar' to a family of hereditary courtesans.

Gulzar acquired the name 'Tamancha Jan' at a time when popular Indian cinema was infatuated with the idea of assertive, strong and bold women.

Jagga jammiya tay milan wadahiyyan was one of her first popular hits and was played widely and frequently in the Punjab. Her next hit was the folk song Lungh a jaa patan chanahn da, originally sung by Baby Noor Jahan for the Punjabi film Shela alias Pind Di Kurri (1935) but not released on gramophone record.

On December 16th, 1937, Lahore Radio went on air with Tamancha Jan, Shamshad, Zeenat Begum, Umrao Zia Begum and Surinder Kaur.

In 1939, Dil Sukh Pancholi released his first film 'Gul Bakawli'. It was "picturized" at the Pancholi Art Studio on Lahore's Upper Mall. Among several others, one song of the film Goohk mayri kismat sooun gayee, jago zaroor oye sung by Tamancha Jan was an instant hit.

In the 1940s Tamancha Jan was at the height of her fame.

Tamancha Jan has gone out of the collective memory of Lahore. There is no one to remember her. But sometimes, Radio Pakistan plays an old song by Ahmed Rushdi that goes: 

Bandar Road say Keymari mayri chali re gohra gaari. It has the sound of horse hooves providing the rhythm. In one of the song's stanzas, when the singer introduces the building of Radio Pakistan, he refers to Tamancha Jan as a sine qua non of music in the following words:


Yeh aaya Radio Pakistan, 

Yahan darbari aur kalayan, 

Yahin pay koi tamancha jaan

Sunaye geet ghazal ki taan

 By Sheraz Hyder/The Fridaytimes