Reshma (c. 1947 – 3 November 2013), Sitara-e-Imtiaz, was a renowned folk singer of Pakistan, who was also very popular in India. She died on 3 November 2013 in Lahore, Pakistan, after suffering from throat cancer for several years.
Reshma was born in village Loha, Tehsil Ratangarh district Churu near Bikaner, Rajasthan to a Banjara (Gypsy) family around 1947. Her father Haji Mamad Mushtaq was a camel and horse trader from Malashi. She belonged to a tribe which had converted to Islam. Her tribe migrated to Karachi shortly after the Partition of India, when she was just one month old.
She did not receive any formal education and spent much of her childhood singing at the mazars (shrines) of the mystic saints of Sindh.
When she was twelve years old, she was spotted singing at Shahbaaz Qalandar’s shrine by a television and radio producer, who arranged for her to make a recording of “Laal Meri” on Pakistan radio. She became an instant hit and since that day, Reshma has been one of the most popular folk singers of Pakistan, appearing on television in the 1960s, recording songs for both the Pakistani and Indian film industry, and performing at home and abroad.
Some of her famous songs are “Dama Dam Mast Kalandar”, “Hai O Rabba nahion lagda dil mera”, “Sun charkhe di mithi mithi cook mahiya meinu yaad aunda”, “Wey main chori chori”, and “Ankhiyan no rehen de ankhyan de kol kol”.
The last was used by Raj Kapoor in Bobby, “Ankhyon ko rehne de ankhyon ke aas pass”, sung by Lata. Her fame had crossed the border, thanks to pirated tapes. She was able to perform live in India much later, during the 1980s when India and Pakistan allowed exchange of artists. Subhash Ghai used her voice in the film Hero, which featured one of her most famous songs, “Lambi Judai”.
During her career she was invited to meet Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
In October 2002, Reshma performed at the Brunei Gallery in London to a packed fall of Pakistani expatriates her daughter Khadija and Umayr also performed.
In 2004, she recorded “Ashkan Di Gali Vich Mukaam De Gaya”, which was used in the Bollywood film Woh Tera Naam Tha, and was also a hit record in India.
In January 2006, she was one of the passengers on the inaugural Lahore-Amritsar bus, the first such service linking both parts of the Punjab since 1947. The bus had 26 passengers in total of whom 15 were Pakistani officials, and Reshma had booked seven seats for herself and her family.
Her last residence was in the area of Icchra in Lahore Pakistan.
Her younger sister Kaneez Reshma is also a professional singer.
Reshma was diagnosed with throat cancer in the 1980s, in later years her health deteriorated, leading President Pervez Musharraf to come to her aid, giving her one million Rupees to help pay off a bank loan, as well as putting her on a secured assistance of 10,000 rupees per month. He also helped her secure a plot of land for herself, but that did not go through due to the change in government.
Her health deteriorated to such an extent that she was hospitalised in Lahore, Pakistan in Doctors Hospital on 6th April 2013. The caretaker government elected to pay all her medical expenses.
Reshma fell into a coma in October 2013 and died on 3 November 2013 in a Lahore hospital.