Fanning the flames of life

Classical dancer Nighat Chaudhry pays soulful tribute to Sufism with recent performance in the city


Saadia Qamar September 21, 2015
With every tap of her feet and chime of her ghungroos, Nighat proved why she remains unsurpassed in the genre. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

KARACHI: It was, indeed, a night to remember. A local hotel recently organised a musical evening, setting the stage for renowned classical dancer Night Chaudhry to perform in Karachi after a long time. Titled ‘Dance of the East’, the event saw Nighat pay tribute to Urdu and Punjabi classics, sung by Shafqat Amanat Ali.

The event commenced with Shafqat’s rendition of Ya Ali, followed by thumri, which narrates the story of the union between two lovers. Another great number, Kheriyan De Naal, ensued along with Allah Hu by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and some revolutionary pieces, such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Hum Dekhein Ge.

The playlist was accentuated by Nighat’s majestic command over her art. With every tap of her feet and chime of her ghungroos, the dancer proved why she remains unsurpassed in the genre. With on-point facial expressions and poised hand gestures, she told the tale of the night and evoked memories of love and loss within the audience.

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Each of the Sufi kalaams she presented boasted a special dance set, depicting its unique storyline. Thumri, for instance, involved gestures and expressions that truly hit home. How one becomes entangled in a physically intimate relationship but then lets it go, only to desire more of it, is something Nighat illustrated with poise. Kheriyan De Naal was another treat to watch, as she channeled the affair of legendary lovers Heer and Ranjha. From hope to love to despair to death — Nighat gave a profound performance.

The evening took a turn for the worse about half an hour in, when singer Karam Abbas Khan took to the stage. Although he’s worthy of applause for trying to do justice to Faiz’s Gulon Mein Rang Bhare and Faraz’s Ranjish Hi Sahi — both hallmarks of the late Mehdi Hasan — his delivery was devoid of emotion.

Read: Performing arts: Renowned kathak dancer enthrals audience

It’s always difficult to relate to Khan sahab’s masterpieces delivered by anyone but himself. Some might have enjoyed Karam’s performance, seeing how there’s a general dearth of art and music in the country, but the singer still has a long way to go before he’s accepted as an artist.

On a parting note, Nighat returned to perform Hum Dekhein Ge, sending the audience back into the trance that had momentarily been interrupted by Karam. Although her performance was, once again, effortless, the background score was a let-down as an unknown singer belted out the lyrics to Faiz’s masterpiece lazily. Had it been say, Iqbal Bano, the audience would never have been able to recuperate from Nighat’s enchanting production.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2015.

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