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Asia

Pakistan's 'bizarre' singer Taher Shah 'undeterred by ridicule'

He is mocked and ridiculed by many Internet users, but his two odd songs have made him Pakistan's biggest Internet star. In a DW interview, Shah says the criticism only strengthens his resolve to keep going.

According to the British daily The Independent, Taher Shah is "the world's most bizarre YouTube Star." The Pakistani pop sensation is not a trained singer, but a businessman from the southern Pakistani city of Karachi. He chooses to sing absurd lyrics in English, a language he can barely speak. Despite these oddities, Shah has become the South Asian country's biggest Internet star since the release of his first song, "Eye to Eye," two years ago. "Without you/I am a butterfly/without fly," goes one of its lines.

Shah has attracted a great deal of criticism from Internet users, but he remains undeterred. His latest song, 'Angel,' which he released some weeks ago, was viewed four million times on YouTube in just four days.

"Mankind is a beautiful 'Angel,'" he writes on his blog, explaining the message behind his latest song."All humans' internal and external elements should be like an 'Angel' and spread their essence like a flower as an 'Angel' along with all of the world's entre [sic] value with respect so all 'Angel' like humans together can make their own and family world heavenly."

It is indeed a positive message coming out of a country battling with Islamic terrorism, a rise in religious extremism and intolerance, and a plethora of economic and social problems.

In an exclusive interview with DW, Taher Shah says he is not bothered by criticism and ridicule. He is instead focused on spreading messages of humanity to all and sundry.

DW: Have you ever taken singing lessons?

Taher Shah: I am doing things in my own way. People are appreciating it, and that pleases me. I am happy that my songs are appreciated all over the world.

But wouldn't it be better to have received some training in music before pursing a career in singing?

I have introduced a new way of singing. We always learn something. The most important thing is what you want to achieve. And I have achieved a lot – millions of people are appreciating my work, and nothing else is more important to me.

Your videos are as interesting as your songs. How do you conceive them?

They are part of my imagination. They are entirely my creations, based on my observations.

Your songs have gone viral on the Internet. At the same time, many people are making fun of you. Do you find the negative comments and remarks hurtful?

People are entitled to their opinions. People do not accept novelty easily and instantly. It takes some time. But after some time, the new style becomes a hallmark. Now people like my songs. That is why my first song "Eye to Eye" set a viewership record on YouTube. And now my new song "Angel" has set the bar even higher. It is people's love that keeps me going.

Is your family supportive of your work? And how do they deal with the criticism against you?

Yes, they do support me, and the criticism does not bother them. Again, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I learn from criticism. I believe in myself and will continue to work to achieve my goals.

Are you planning to release a music album as well?

It is too early to confirm that. I am working on several projects, and all of them take a lot of time to finish. Many people write songs, but for me the important thing is the message. In "Angel," my message is that we should love each other, because nothing is superior to humanity. It is the message that has made me and my songs so popular.

The interview was conducted in Urdu by Unbreen Fatima in Karachi, Pakistan.