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Tuntuna - A Struggle for Dreams or a Problematic Love Story?

Shamoon Ismail, a popular Gen Z singer, comes across as shy and introverted. This was one of the earliest problems he encountered. He still prefers to perform in front of small groups rather than large audiences. In his track, Tuntuna, he delves more into the difficulties he experienced, concentrating on the societal constraints of becoming an artist. He called his single 'Tuntuna,' a sarcastic Punjabi term for instruments, and he talks about his battle in a funky tone, criticizing cultural taboos, which were one of the primary challenges he encountered. Throughout the song, there is a transition from him directly addressing his lover and his own train of thought.

The opening lyrics immediately delve into Shamoon’s thoughts.

Na ey mere kol paisa, na ey mere kol gaddi, na waddi kothi Tenu le ke deni roti, kithoon? Jidoon toon ban-na meri voti

Directed towards his lover, the song constantly stresses his ‘failure’, lack of a car, money, and a huge house; how will he feed her once they tie the knot? This insinuation is slightly problematic since Shamoon has adopted a patriarchal attitude that depicts women eternally dependent on men. Men are the sole breadwinners of the household, whilst women are unable to sustain themselves. This is the portrayal of a typical South Asian mindset in which it is believed that a man can only marry if he makes a good living and can support his wife. Shamoon has beautifully traversed every artist’s struggle of suddenly becoming incompatible due to his financial position. Relationships are superficial since he doesn’t own cars or mansions; thus, he believes his relationship will fail.

The chorus itself sounds catchy yet funny due to the rhyme scheme. Shamoon has once again proven his talents by using a very lighthearted tone to talk about a sensitive stereotype, especially when his audience is a country like Pakistan.

Mein te tuntuna wajanda Naal thora bohot gaanda Meinu hor kuj nae aanda Meinu hor kuj nae aanda

Tuntuna's chorus indicates that he was well aware that the only suitable career for him was to become an artist as he adds that he can play instruments and sing yet knows nothing else. The repetition of this verse emphasises the notion that he knows nothing else. Like many artists, he was fully aware of his talents, yet he was concerned about his future as he did not know anything else. His rendition of the stereotypes associated with artists in our society is very deliberate in showing that they cannot succeed in life; it is deemed that one can either be successful or become an artist. This is one of the few tracks in the Pakistani music industry that highlight social taboos in a very subtle and serene tone – he is not offending his culture but also reaching out to many artists who may be in the same boat. These taboos drive a person to change their whole career, sacrificing their passion and talent for the interests of everyone else. Artists are frequently insulted by the public, referred to as "Marasi," a derogatory term to demean their profession. Shamoon’s take on this concept is fascinating at the least.

Denda tenu sab zaroor, par keraan ki mein aapay vi majboor

Shamoon says in this statement, "I can offer you everything for sure, but what can I do when I myself am restricted?" Here, he attempts to make it clear that, whilst he loves her and will do his best to accommodate her demands, it will have a larger impact on his life, forcing him to quit his interests just to cater for her needs. The song delves into the idea that to provide her everything, he will have to find a different vocation, but because he proclaimed that he knew nothing else, he would have to live in suffering and discomfort. Again, he is portrayed as the breadwinner, and as long as he chooses to be a singer, he will not be able to fulfil her necessities. These lyrics are very vehement in showing a personal side of the artist. Whilst he values his relationship, his career is more important to him. He doesn't want to regret his decision for the rest of his life. He grabs his guitar and leaves the girl at the end of the music video. Certainly, this is quite distinctive since he deviates from the common notion of leaving everything for someone. Men leaving everything for their lovers is quite common in modern media products. Here, he sends a hidden message that one should pursue his ambitions, even though the stakes were very high for him, and he chose his work over all else because of his passion.

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Hey, great insight! Now that you have pointed out , I looked into the other lyrics and tried to make sense out of them . So even though we are now in 21st century, this ideology of men being the sole breadwinners for a household still pertails in the world and especially in Pakistan. Yes, shamoon reinforced the stereotypes about providing for his partner but It can also be seen from a different perspective. How a man suffers and struggles to fulfil the traditional roles set up by the society where man has to be financially stable to marry. These gender norms have been so deeply embedded in our society that men live with the constant pressure of fulfilling these…

Dec 10, 2022
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Exactly! Our society has established gender roles, and failing to carry out these obligations is viewed as failure in our society. It is quite disheartening to see women stereotyped as gold diggers, while men are portrayed as the sole providers of their needs. These misconceptions have evolved through mainstream media, and they can only be challenged by modifying media production techniques. Caste belief systems are profoundly embedded in our personalities; yet, the next generation is resisting these customs; nonetheless, these ideologies are still imposed on the younger generations.


Myra Shahab
Myra Shahab
Dec 02, 2022

Is it truly a ‘societal taboo’ (as you have referenced to the subject in paragraph 4) Shamoon is talking about in his song or the critique of society’s explicit demand from men in relationships to always be the one to provide for a family? Musician kia nokri aakhir kaar? It’s extremely well known that if a guy wants to get married, love or arranged, he needs to be financially stable for the rishta to proceed (reliance is placed on newspaper advertisements highlighting a guy’s job/salary as his main characteristic). I agree with you on Shamoon addressing the demeaning of music careers since other seemingly ‘safer’ or ‘less risky’ career options such as business actually have variating success rates too.


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