Timeless classics in ghazals

The Ghazal Festival in Lahore took the audience in to a trance with Hamid Ali Khan’s performance.

Ali Usman February 20, 2011

LAHORE: Technology has made the lifestyle of many evolve but there are some things that just don’t change with time. Ghazal nights are one such thing. No matter how busy everyone gets, no matter how many discs circulate through music stores, the spell that a live ghazal performance casts remains unmatched. There comes a moment in a live performance when a melodious singer makes you forget who you are and where you are.

The two-day Ghazal Festival at the Lahore Arts Council (LAC) had a similar effect when the Patiala Gharana’s Hamid Ali Khan performed to a packed house at the Alhamra. Khan was the last singer of the night but the audience anxiously waited for his performance. He started off with “Mora Jiya Na Lagay” and went on to sing several ghazals showing his mastery and control over notes and his  sur.

Khan has always been an inspirational leader and used his musicians the best way especially the tabla nawaz that beautifully chased the singer when he went from delicate soft notes to high notes with utmost ease and comfort. The singer’s style of bringing sargum while singing  won him kudos from music lovers and musicians alike.

Khan sung several celebrated ghazals including  “Dil Ke Basti” by Allama Iqbal. He then went on to sing “Tehar Jao Key Herani Tu Jaey” by Mohsin Naqvi following it up with “Guzar Gya Jo Zamana Usay Bhula He Do” and “Ab Toh Dekhay Huay Rasto Say Bhi Dar Lagta Hai”. However, the finale won over the audience completely, the much celebrated Punjabi piece “Menu Teray Jeya Sohna Hor Lub De Nahi” had the crowd moving to the beat.

“Khan often ends his performance by singing this piece but every time he sings this it seems new. He is amazing on stage, “said one of his diehard fans, Khalid Hussain.

“There is nothing like ghazal when it comes to poetry and singing but unfortunately ghazal has been pushed back in Pakistan. Ghazal is vanishing here and that’s why many of our singers run to the neighbouring country. I got my name, fame and everything from here. We just need to give chances to our artistes and promote our indigenous music and then nobody can match us,” Khan told The Express Tribune after his mesmerising performance.

Another amazing performance on the last day was by Tarannum Naz, who is considered to be the only established protege of Madam Noor Jehan. When she started with Kaleem Usmani’s ghazal “Raat Pheli Hai Teray Surmai Aanchal Ke Tarha” many praised her saying that she sung it the way Madam Noor Jehan had wished it to be sung. Naz also sung Daagh Dehlvi’s gahzal “Gee Janta Hai” and followed it up with “Bachpan Ke Yaadgaro” on the request of the audience.

“Its at events like this where you can differentiate between a lip syncer and a live performer. Many singers play recordings even in live performances which in my opinion is dishonest. I wish and request these kinds of nights to be organised every month instead of organizing them once in a year,” said Naz.

Nadeem Salamat also performed on the second day of the festival and sung ghazals of Nasir Kazmi.

On the inaugural day of the festival, February 16, Humera Channa, Nuran Lal and the Niazi brothers (sons of folksinger Tufail Niazi) performed.  The Niazis mixed ghazal singing with folk songs that received great applause. In turn, the LAC administration said that with the advent of spring on the horizon they would definitely try to organise more musical evenings.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2011.

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