Bumpy ride into 2012: When timeless melodies go awry

Published: January 2, 2012
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Sharif Mehdi performing. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID

Sharif Mehdi performing. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) entered into 2012 with a bumpy ride, as an overbooked event took away the very serenity that ghazals induce in listeners.

The invitation cards boasted of ghazal performances by eminent artists. Adorned in twinkling lights and bouquets, the auditorium stage set the mood for connoisseurs to sit back and anticipate classical numbers.

However the seating was limited, so many had to cramp on the stairs or simply stand, causing discomfort amongst the audience. Despite clear instructions on the invitations, some people had brought along their noisy toddlers.

After much hustle and bustle, the crowd settled down to the first performance by Sharif Mehdi, a disciple of Mehdi Hasan, who presented popular ghazals. Next up was an upcoming artist Shaista Younas, who presented Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s famous composition “Mujhse pehli si mohabbat mere mehboob na maang.”

Despite talented singers pouring in melody, PNCA Performing Arts Division Director Hassan Abbas Raza expressed his discontent over what he termed “not showing due appreciation for the legends” or following the ethics of the art form.

Other noted artists such as Humaira Channa, Khalil Haider, Nida Faiz, and Naeemul Haq Babloo performed Ahmed Faraz’s ghazals such as “Suna hai log usay aankh bhar ke dekhte hain”, which while good, failed to make up for the rush.

In the end, what promised to be an exciting retreat, turned out to be an unpleasant affair as the calming ambience that is expected of a ghazal night was lacking.

An audience member said, “I came here with my family to enjoy a peaceful ghazal night. However, the fact that we had to stand so long in a crowd outside and then not even get proper seating marred the spirit.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd,  2012.

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