If anyone needed proof that great singers never die, it was on display at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) auditorium in Islamabad on Saturday.
Veteran playback singer Ghulam Abbas sang to a packed crowd as he paid homage to the memory of the late Mehnaz Begum.
Mehnaz — the daughter of renowned Indian singer Kajjan Begum — was famous for her Lollywood movie songs as well as ghazals and thumris.
She passed away on January 19 at the Bahrain International Airport in Manama, Bahrain, while en route to the US for medical treatment. She was suffering from a respiratory illness.
Abbas captivated the audience with classical renditions of popular tunes such as the “Tera Mera Saath Rahay”, which was picturised with Nadeem and Shabnam for the ‘80s flick Badaltay Mausam.
As Abbas sang the song’s chorus “Ab tau qismet ki tarah tera mera saath rahay,” it was if the singer and the audience were silently acknowledging that Mehnaz still lives through her songs.
While Abbas played the harmonium, he was supported by a musical ensemble that consisted of tabla, violin, guitar and keyboard players.
Former ambassador Aftab Syed and his wife said they thoroughly enjoyed the performance.
“It refreshed Mehnaz Begum’s songs and her melodious voice in our memories,” Syed said.
Abbas also performed duets he had sung with Mehnaz for movies in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s , such as “Parakh” and “Hum dono.”
He did not have many anecdotes for the audience, and the one he did share almost ended up making Mehnaz look bad.
It was about a Nigar award Mehnaz thought she would definitely win for a song that both she and Abbas had separately recorded for the same film. When Abbas won the award, he wanted Mehnaz to keep it. But Mehnaz accepted defeat gracefully and told Abbas, “You should keep it at your place, because your home is my home as well.”
The musical tribute was organised by Mausikaar Welfare Trust. The trust’s objectives are to promote classical music and support musicians by holding cultural events regularly, said Seema Khan, the president of Mausikaar.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2013.