My “now” song: Dasht-e-Tanhai

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music — it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, etc. This becomes my “now’” song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

I discovered Coke Studio Pakistan (CSP) sometime last year, and life was never the same again. The musicians featured here have opened up an entirely new world through their folk numbers or ghazals or qawwalis or raga-based pop numbers. The sheer variety and quality of music has always amazed and delighted me and has given me hours of pleasure.

One such song is Dasht-e-Tanhai, a ghazal by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and sung by Meesha Shafi. Ever since I came across this song about 2-3 weeks back, I have been listening to it or singing along with it during all my waking hours. And I think I hum this song in my sleep as well. Little wonder then that this song is my “now” song.

Dasht-e-Tanhai was originally sung by the legendary Iqbal Bano (you can listen to her version here). Though her version is very good, Meesha Shafi’s rendition of this song is a sensory delight. It is a song that is full of pathos, longing, hope, love, romance and Faiz’s beautiful Urdu poetry is matched by Meesha’s sensuous and earthy voice. You can actually feel the emotion behind each word in this song and when I listen to…

apni khushboo mein sulagti hui madham madham
door ufaq par chamakti hui qatra qatra…

I get goosebumps. (Please switch on the sub-titles option in the video for the English translation). What a song ! What. A. Song. 🙂

Have you listened to this song before? Which rendition did you like — Iqbal Bano’s or Meesha Shafi’s?

To listen to other songs from this series, please click here.

35 thoughts on “My “now” song: Dasht-e-Tanhai

    1. Coke Studio Pakistan is mindblowing. And over the last year or so have unearthed some real gems and have even featured 3-4 videos in this series. Hope you were able to listen to this one. Did you like it?


    1. Welcome here, Anuradha. So nice of you to stop by and comment.

      Most of Coke Studio Pakistan is awesome; wish I could say the same for Coke Studio India. I haven’t read “Maps for Lost Lovers” though I did read the review you wrote. I had put this book on the list of books to buy. Now I think I’ll just fast-track the purchase 🙂


  1. Wow! How did I miss this post and this song all this while! Its one of the raw ghazals, which you don’t get to hear too much these days! Meesha did good justice to the pathos of Faiz’s poetry with her vocal depth


    1. Welcome, Arnab. Delighted to see you here. You didn’t actually miss this post as I published it only this morning. 🙂 And no amount of praise for Meesha Shafi is enough, is it?


  2. Unable to open the link, but if one were to go by the choice and the source, I am sure it will be a great one as the others you have claimed as your ‘now’ songs. I will tell you how I liked it after listening to it.

    Do you know something? I imagine you sitting there, eyes closed with a beatific smile on your lips listening to these songs you share with us. Now tell me if my imagination is running riot or is it the way you listen to them?


  3. The day I heard this song in your office, I fell in love. I not only sent the links to many of my close friends, I became infatuated with Meesha Shafi. Amongst many things I discovered she was a top model for french fashion groups, that she is acting in the next Mira Nair movie, born to well-known actors and that she is a Dec 1st born (ahem, I am a sagi too). So it got me thinking how she managed so many varied talents so well and excelled in all. I found that what was beautiful was her discipline–discipline in her voice, in her poise, in her mind…and today along with the song she is also my role model on how to bring discipline back into my life…thanks for introducing me to her song and her!


    1. I know you fell in love. And how ! 🙂

      Wow ! I didn’t know all this about Meesha Shafi. I just couldn’t go beyond her music. I agree that discipline is the key to managing multiple and varied interests, and the key to success as well. And Meesha is truly an inspiration. Thanks for sharing this bit of info here.


  4. I haven’t heard Coke Studio ever. 😦 What a pity!
    Will listen to both versions of this song soon. Sounds great! Thanks for the suggestion!

    BTW, have you heard ARR’s Nenjukulle? I don’t understand much of the poetic Tamil there, but still love the song. 🙂 Do try it out if you haven’t heard it already.


    1. Not having heard Coke Studio Pakistan is easily remedies. You can listen to them now. 🙂

      And yes, I have listened to Nenjukulle, and loved it. The first few times were a little frustrating as I didn’t understand the Tamil, but once I let the music take over it was fine. It just might feature here one of these days. 😉


    1. Ah ! But bigger is definitely not better, especially in the context of music. 🙂 It is also not better when performers are the priority rather than music.


  5. Great track! Somehow CSP has managed to do stuff that we have failed. Some of the episodes of MTV India Unplugged and the Dewarist have some nice music though. I kind of look forward to your now song posts, as I almost always find something nice and new. I remember the D.K. Pattamal rendition struck me so deeply and I felt sad that I did not even know about her till then. Keep bringing these drops of joy into our lives, Sudhagee!


    1. Thank you, Subho. Glad to know that you enjoy this series. And yes there will be more to come 🙂

      MTV Unplugged and The Dewarists is definitely better than CSI, but… I always feel that I am listening to a bad jamming session whenever I’m listening to Coke Studio,. Nothing wrong with a jamming session, I’ve been part of many myself, but none that I would broadcast in public. I almost feel that there is condescension showed by getting a (relatively) unknown artist partner with a known one. My other grouse is the our rich regional heritage does not get really showcased. I could just go on actually…


  6. This is the most beautiful sonng everrrrr! I know exactly how you feeel!
    i can never get tired of listening to it, its been my favourite for over a year now.
    the lyrics are ohmygod-amazing! and yeah i get goosebumps everytime i hit the ‘play’.
    andandand the answer to your question – i love meesha shafi’s version better ❤


    1. Welcome here, Afifah, and so glad to meet another person who likes this song and also this version more 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.


    1. I’m sorry, I don’t know. I tried figuring it out, but the music is so beautiful that I get lost in it and it just doesn’t matter, if you know what I mean. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  7. Hey can u tell me more songs like this ..i have been searching for ghazals by female leads…this was the best i came across…but if u knew more like these ..please post them here


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