Lahore Memories: Moti Shah - Unforgettable Street Singer Of Lahore

Qasim Khan Lahore

Lahore Memories - LM018: Moti Shah - Unforgettable Street Singer  of Lahore and a memorable reunion with Mohammad Rafi

Photos and text by: Sabrina Shah (grand daughter)

You may find these photos of my grandfather Moti Shah also known as Zahoor Ahmad Shah brother of Dr. Nazir Ahmad Shah of interest. My grandfather is well known for his voice

Narrated by: Rajan Shah (nephew, son of Dr. Nazir Ahamd Shah)

My Uncle, Baba Moti Shah, who was quite well known in the walled city of Lahore as a non-professional classical/semi-classical singer. He worked in Lahore's Locomotive & Carriage Shop, Mughalpura.

The above photo (left) was taken in 1962 when Baba Moti Shah went to Bombay to see his then recently married daughter settled in Bombay. Uncle Moti Shah and Muhammad Rafi (resident of Bilal Ganj, Lahore) knew each other since those days when partition hadn't taken place. Before imposition of visas for England in June 1962, he migrated to the UK to stay with his sons, Dr Munawwar Shah, Ph.D, and Anwar Shah. Teenager Moti Shah was a spoilt child of the family for his love for music and friendships with lot of singers including Barray Ghulam Ali Khan and Ustad Barkat Ali Khan and for that reason couldn't go beyond class VI in Islamia High School, Sheranwala Gate, Lahore. An interesting episode about him is that he was sent by his mother to fetch yogurt from Choona Mandi. He did not return; everyone in the family was pertubed. After two days he sent a telegram and informed that he was with Ustad So & So in Calcutta learning raagdari. He had very loud voice like his cousin, Mr Mahmood Ali Kasuri. In late 1950s if he were singing around midnight all alone outside Lohari Gate during those quiet winters, his loud taan could be heard a mile away in Nila Gumbad area.

Note by A. Hameed in article 'Lahore's Street Singers:

"One of the most famous wandering singers of the city was named Moti Shah, who had an overpowering voice. He was dressed like a faqir and such power and outreach his voice had that if he were performing in the park adjoining Mochi Gate, he would be heard as far Delhi Darwaza and Texali Gate. He would often be invited to perform at people’s homes. Moti Shah was a true wandering minstrel who would never accept money. Few know that he was the brother of Dr Nazir Ahmed, who became principal of Government College, Lahore. He would meet his brother with great affection and if they ran into each other on the street and Moti Shah was singing, Dr Nazir Ahmed, who was also highly musical, would throw his arms around him and the two brothers would embrace, one a botanist, the other a faqir.

- This narative is part of "Lahore Memeries", an initiative of Project Lahore, as online archive of personal visuals from history of Lahore contributed by people. The major aim to preserve visual history of Lahore about people, traditions, social gatherings, development and heritage through pictures found in personal family albums and archives with textual/video/audio narratives. Project Lahore team welcome people contributing their Lahore memories, for detail please check here: