Over the past few days, videos of a truck from Pakistan, with a huge portrait of Sidhu Moosewala painted on its back, have gone viral on social media with users appreciating the tribute paid to the slain Punjabi singer by the Pakistani fan.
In the videos, the truck driver can be seen proudly posing with Moosewala’s portrait as the singer’s tracks playing in the background. Several people who saw the truck moving on the roads of Pakistan also clicked its photos and shared it on social media, saying, “It is said that in Pakistan if you have your picture on a truck, it means you are in the hearts of the people.”
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, the truck driver Shahzad Bhatti (30) said that he was a resident of Arifwala from Pakistan’s Punjab province. Bhatti is into the transport business and owns six trucks, one of which has Moosewala’s portrait painted on it.
“I am a die-hard Moosewala fan. The day he was shot dead in India, I was so heartbroken that I could not believe it for four-five days. I was so pained by his death that I wanted to do something big and unique in his remembrance. I decided to pay him a tribute by doing something so that everyone in Pakistan and India should know that I was his biggest fan. So I decided to get his portrait painted on my truck ahead of his birthday which was on June 11. I had never imagined that my videos would go viral in India too. It was just a small effort from my side to keep Moosewala alive in Pakistan,” said Bhatti.
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Rapper Shubhdeep Singh alias Sidhu Moosewala (28) was shot dead in Punjab’s Mansa on May 29. Bhatti added that he entrusted the task of painting Moosewala’s portrait on the truck to a local painter, but he sought more days to complete the work. “But I wanted this portrait to be complete anyhow by June 11, which was Moosewala’s birthday. Now wherever we take this truck, people huddle to take selfies and ask from where we got it done,” he said.
In Pakistan, trucks are not just a means of transporting goods but a part of the post-independence heritage where drivers have long shown a fascination to adorn vehicles “like a bride”. With its roots in Afghanistan and Pakistan, ‘truck art’ is an internationally recognised artform, with not just murals, but also hand-painted portraits of known personalities adorning the large vehicle. However, an Indian Sikh singer occupying that space – which is mostly reserved for Pakistani national heroes and local actors or singers – is quite rare.
The ardent Moosewala fan said he has already assigned the work to get the singer’s portrait painted on his five other trucks. “Not just me, but all my friends and relatives who own trucks and are fans of Moosewala will also be getting his portrait painted on their trucks. In Pakistan, truck art is very famous and a way to express if we like a personality. My trucks are going to have Moosewala’s portraits as long as I am alive because he and his songs were really close to my heart,” said Bhatti.
“His song ‘295’ has always been my favourite, especially when he sang the reality of today’s world – ‘Karenga tarakki putt hate milugi (The more you progress, the more hated you become)’…” he said. Bhatti said that his truck with the now-famous Moosewala portrait has garnered much attention in Pakistan. “Other truck drivers are asking me where I got this painting done. There are thousands of Moosewala fans in Pakistan and all have been heartbroken with his demise,” he said.