Syed Abdullah Shah Qadri (Punjabi: سید عبداللہ شاہ قادری), popularly known as Bulleh Shah (بلھے شاہ), was a Mughal-era Punjabi Islamic philosopher and Sufi poet. His first spiritual teacher was Shah Inayat Qadiri, a Sufi murshid of Lahore.
An artistic depiction of Bulleh Shah
Uch, Multan Subah, Mughal Empire (now Punjab, Pakistan)
|Died||1757 (aged 77)
Kasur, Bhangi Misl, Sikh Confederacy (now Punjab, Pakistan)
|Major shrine||Kasur, Punjab, Pakistan|
|Influences||Shah Hussain, Sultan Bahu, Shah Sharaf|
|Influenced||Countless Sufi poets|
Tradition or genre
Bulleh Shah lived after the Pashto Sufi poet Rahman Baba (1632–1706) and lived in the same period as Sindhi Sufi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai (1689–1752). His lifespan also overlapped with the Punjabi poet Waris Shah (1722–1798), of Heer Ranjha fame, and the Sindhi Sufi poet Abdul Wahab (1739–1829), better known by his pen name Sachal Sarmast. Amongst Urdu poets, Bulleh Shah lived 400 miles away from Mir Taqi Mir (1723–1810) of Agra.
Many people have put his kafis to music, from humble street-singers to renowned Sufi singers like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Pathanay Khan, Abida Parveen, the Waddali Brothers and Sain Zahoor, from the synthesised techno qawwali remixes of UK-based Asian artists to the Pakistani rock band Junoon.
In the 1990s, Junoon, a rock band from Pakistan, rendered his poems "Bullah Ki Jaana" and "Aleph" ("Ilmon Bas Kareen O Yaar"). In 2004, Rabbi Shergill turned the abstruse metaphysical poem "Bullah Ki Jaana" into a rock/fusion song in his debut album Rabbi; the song was a chart-topper in 2005, helping the album to eventually sell over 10,000 copies and became immensely popular in India and Pakistan. The Wadali Bandhu, a Punjabi Sufi group from India, have also released a version of "Bullah Ki Jaana" in their album Aa Mil Yaar... Call of the Beloved. Another version was performed by Lakhwinder Wadali and entitled "Bullah". Dama Dam Mast Qalandar, a qawwali composed in honour of Shahbaz Qalandar, has been one of Bulleh Shah's most popular poems and has been frequently rendered by many Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi singers including Noor Jehan, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen, Sabri Brothers, Wadali brothers, Reshman and Runa Laila. Other qawwali songs by Bulleh Shah, include "Sade Vehre Aya Kar" and "Mera Piya Ghar Aaya".
Also in 2016, a collaboration between two EDM artists (Headhunterz and Skytech) named "Kundalini" used words created by Bulleh Shah, as well as having the words Bulleh Shah in the lyrics. Bulleh Shah's verses have been an inspiration to painters as well, as in the two series of paintings (Jogia Dhoop and Shah Shabad) by an Indian painter Geeta Vadhera inspired by the poetry of Bulleh Shah and other Sufi poets and saints. In 2017, British Pakistani singer Yasir Akhtar used Bulleh Shah's poetry in his song "Araam Naal Kar - Take it Easy".
Some of Bulleh Shah's verses, including "Tere Ishq Nachaya", have been adapted and used in Bollywood film songs including "Chaiyya Chaiyya" and "Thayya Thayya" in the 1998 film Dil Se.., and "Ranjha Ranjha" in the 2010 film Raavan. The 2007 Pakistani movie Khuda Kay Liye includes Bulleh Shah's poetry in the song "Bandeya Ho". The 2008 Bollywood film, A Wednesday, included a song titled "Bulle Shah, O Yaar Mere". In 2014, Ali Zafar sung some of his verses as "Chal Buleya" for Bollywood soundtrack album Total Siyapaa, and the song was reprised by Zafar same year in Pakistan Idol. The 2016 Bollywood films "Sultan" and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil feature the song "Bulleya", sung by Papon and Amit Mishra respectively, which is short for Bulleh Shah. A song "Hun Kis Theen" based on his poetry was also featured in Punjabi animated film Chaar Sahibzaade: Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur.
In 2009, the second season of Coke Studio featured "Aik Alif" performed by Sain Zahoor and Noori. Ali Zafar also used some of Bulleh Shah and Shah Hussain's verses in his "Dastan-e-Ishq". In 2010, the third season featured "Na Raindee Hai" and "Makke Gayaan Gal Mukdi Nahi" performed by Arieb Azhar. In 2012, Shah's poetry was featured with Hadiqa Kiani performing "Kamlee". In 2016, Ahmed Jahanzeb and Umair Jaswal performed "Khaki Banda"; and Rizwan Butt and Sara Haider performed "Meri Meri", the songs were too based on Shah's verses.