Chants of the mystics: Promoting peace through music

Perform songs, dances celebrating rich Sufi poetry

Artists perform at the event held at the National Art Gallery Auditorium. PHOTO: HUMA CHOUDHARY/EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: Against a backdrop of a whirling dervish crafted from floral design, the stage of the National Art Gallery Auditorium came alive with the rhythms of Sufi music and classical Indian dance on Saturday evening.

Aptly titled “Arz-e-Faqeeran” (an ascetic’s message), the evening kicked off with an instrumental piece by Zain Ali on guitar, Akmal Kazmi on flute and Kashif Ali Dani on tabla.

The musical performances were punctuated by the dances to go with the theme of the rhythms of the land.

Classical dancer Feriyal Aslam set the mood with Manglam, by offering flowers as she gently swayed around the stage, followed by Alaripu (the beginning) for which she was joined by Iftikhar Masih.

The duo complemented each other in the dance that was meant to connect a person with the dancer within.

Aslam performed the shlok; Brinda Bun, a dance narrative about a place, and was later joined by both Masih and Amna Mawaz for jatiswaram in raga mala (Karnatak), involving aesthetically-pleasing bharatnatyam movements for a wonderful performance.

With Ustad Nazakat Ali’s vocals, Ustad Mohammad Ajmal on pakhawaj and celebrated classical dancer Indu Mitha on bol and manjheera, the raga was a soulful retreat juxtaposed with the classical dance.

Musician Arieb Azhar, often associated with modern mystic music, opened with Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s ghazal “Hum dekhaingey”, improvised the classic revolutionary poetry in his own distinct way.

Accompanied by his band and Zeeshan Mansoor on guitar, Azhar performed poetry of Baba Bulleh Shah and Baba Ghulam Farid.

Somewhere between the wildly popular “Hum charsi bhangi hain” and the devotional song of Coke Studio fame “Aye husn-e-haqiqi”, he rendered another Faiz classic, “Bol ke lab azaad hain tere”.

However, his yet-to-be released song “Hum sachay thay jub hum kuttay thay” was a tongue-in-cheek social commentary, complete with spontaneous playful barks at the end.

Amna wrapped up the evening with a performance of tilana, narrated in cheez and bandish by Ustad Sada Khan.

The technical item was composed in raag darbari.

The event was aimed at raising funds for Rozan.

Rozan official Dr Ambreen Ahmed said that the funds raised through the event would be used for building Rozan Ghar, a residential training facility and a community centre.

Despite the rich diversity of content and medium, the event had its glitches.

“Feriyal’s performance, especially the piece ‘Sawan’ (Monsoon) was mesmerising,” said Saima Alvi, an audience member.

“Arieb, who can electrify audiences with his live performances, was not his usual best. His rendering of two of Faiz’s best-known ghazals and one of his own songs “Kuttay” were definitely not his best performance ever,” she said.

Moreover, PNCA’s management of the event was poor; the hall was awfully cold, loadshedding kept interrupting the performances, Alvi said.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th,  2015.


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