Gul Panra is a famous Pashto singer who rose to fame after her debut in Coke Studio Season 08. Her Coke Studio song “Man Amadeh Am” featuring pop star Atif Aslam is the most popular song of her career as it currently has more than 99 million views on YouTube.
Hailing from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Peshawar region, Gul Panra started her singing career around three years ago as she had interest in music but also continued her education. Being the eldest one among her seven siblings, she completed her Master’s degree in social work from Peshawar University.
Her last album ‘Zama Ghazal’ got an unprecedented popularity as it broke record of all previous Pashto music charts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The album contains ghazals written by a number of popular Pashto poets from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “I love Gul Panra’s songs because of its quality content, music and strength of voice,” Arshad Khan, a Pashtun student studying in Dhaka said.
“Although I am away from my country yet I love Pashto music only because of Gul Panra as she has revived true Pashto music. I have bought all albums of my favorite singer,” he remarked.
Gul Panra chose music as a career despite reservations from her family
During an episode of “A Morning with Farah” Gul Panra opened up about her struggles when she decided to start her career as a musician. Gul Panra shared that, since she belongs to a very conservative family, she knew that she will face troubles getting permission from her family to sing. Therefore, she secretly started singing without letting her parents know about it.
Popular Pashto music director Master Ali Haider launched her velvety voice with her first-ever super hit song ‘Sta Lal Pari Yama Za’ (I am a fairy). She also attended regular music classes with Ustad Nazeer Gul.
Her secret didn’t last long when her songs became popular and her family found out what she had been up to lately. It was very hard for Gul to placate her parents when they found out about her musical career — especially her mother. Among her family, Gul’s mother was the most angry about her decision because she is a modest Muslim woman. His father, on the other hand, caved in and supported her decision along with her sister. She also said that her sister was the one who initially pushed her to take this decision.
Gul Panra further added that there were many hurdles along the way and so much happened after her first song came out — but she wouldn’t want to share it on screen because that involves her family and personal life.
Master Ali Haider said that Gul Panra, being a young and well-versed Pashtun girl, inspired other educated people especially females to prove their talent.
“When she came for the first time to give an audition, I had a feeling she could prove her inborn talent; and she did prove herself — beyond my expectations. She worked hard and left far behind many of her contemporary singers in a short span of time,” he said.
Gul Panra recently started her singing career in Urdu as well
Gul Panra has been singing solo as a background singer for Pashto films for quite some time and has four albums to her credit. After having topped all Pashto music charts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the pop singer recently decided to get her silky voice across the country.
The young Pashtun musician claimed that she had the talent to carve out a niche for herself in the national language. She took the decision in an effort to reach out a large audience, following a pressing demand from her fans. In an interview with DAWN, Gul Panra said that she is excited to try her luck in the Urdu music industry too.
“I am prepared to test my luck in Urdu as well. I want to reach out to a wider audience and capture more space at national level. I am sponsoring the project myself. I have got its audio version and now I am going to get its video, looking for a better idea to shoot it in a befitting manner,” Gulpanra said.
Besides reaching out to a larger audience, Gul Panra also wants to give global recognition to Pashto music.
“My greatest wish is that more and more educated class and tasteful people among Pashtuns listen and like my songs. I want to give a global recognition to Pashto music,” she said.
Talking about her future plans, Gul said that she plans to help her community through social work. “My future plan is to do some social welfare service besides singing in Pashto and Urdu.
Samina, Gul Panra’s younger sister said that she liked her sister’s songs but she personally wouldn’t want to follow the footsteps of her sister. Like her sister, Samina too had done master degree in social work and have joined a government service recently. “I like her voice as she picks up quality content,” she said.