Friday, June 29, 2012

Parveen Shakir

Kafas mein hoon mujhe azaadiyaan awaz deti hain
Mere par khol do, purvaaiyaan awaaz deti hain

Kulsum was typing in Urdu for me when we spoke on the phone and she suggested this particular ghazal by the Pakistani poetess Parveen Shakir. I looked at the words and across the phone line this young woman was telling me that whenever she read this poem she felt so inspired.

I could see the yearning in the soul of the lady- and her simple desire to be free and soar like a bird. And as I sit down to make this blog-entry I am reminded of one of those poems which was my greatest inspirations in my long years of illness and soul solitude. It was one of the greatest Russian poets- Alexander Pushkin's words

Captive alone in a dungeon I dwell
Entombed in the murk and stillness of my cell
Outside in the courtyard in wild, frenzied play
My comrade, an eagle has pounced on his prey....(imagine me writing from memory!!!)

And then again I am reminded about my own poem- whose essence is that I am that falcon on the gular tree...So when I see the universal symbols of birds, freedom, heights, soaring, captivity, womanhood...I cannot but be moved enough to set it to some music. The music was set just by me looking at the words- as if it just rang in my ears and I just had to play the notes on the harmonium to bring them within the ambit of a particular raga. Never composed something whose music I heard in my ears before I touched the keys.

It was a great experience. And now I am wondering, whether the poetry was already carrying the music in its own folds, or how the melody came to me just by looking at the lyrics. Amazing experience and of course I shared it with Kulsum within twenty minutes of her suggesting me to sing this particular poem. Thanks my little friend.

There are two other Parveen Shakir ghazals in my repertoire and am sure more would follow, as I start looking for more women poets. Oh yes! the other ladies now are Zakya Ghazal and Dr.Naseem Nikhat (three ghazals this month)

Saba kidhar nikal gayi

Faiz is one of those poets I really deeply love, am inspired by and have played with for a long time. And now I see myself in a very strong position in terms of his poetry and my music. And I have a feeling (though no way to check this) that I would be the one musician who has the single largest collection of his poetry as part of my own musical repertoire.

That of course is no matter of surprise for me as I normally work a lot in one person's poetry, philosophy and worldview and where all I see convergences with my own, I sit down to compose. This summer this has happened with at least four other poets- viz. Ahmad Faraz (my initiative), Majaz Lakhnawi (thanks to Murad Ali) and then Naseem Nikhat (thanks to Mirza Arif) and possibly Parveen Shakir (thanks to Kulsum for reminding me)

So coming back to Faiz, I finally pushed myself to learn Iqbal Bano's version of the tarana- Hum dekheinge...and have already performed this in front of a Red group- to much applause. Then I composed myself another tarana-
darbar-e-watan mein jab ek din, sab jaane wale jaaeinge
kuchh apni saza ko pahuncheinge, kuchh apni jazaa le jaaeinge

Now I am looking at Mehdi Hassan's version of - Gulon mein rang bhare...and I know there is another Faiz ghazal he has sung. let me see which one it is. I really want to work on Noorjahan's- Mujh se pehli si mohabbat...but I am not convinced about her music, so I may want to compose my own in a raga. Let us see- or abandon it completely.

But then my own repertoire is so rich-that these additional gems are beautiful embellishments on a well made crown. Those ghazals ( i have mentioned the tarana already) go as follows-

  • Sham-e-firaq ab na poochh, aayi aur aa ke tal gai
  • Tum aaye ho na shab-e-intezaar guzri hai
  • Tere gham to ja'an ki talash thi
  • Kab yaad mein tera saath nahi'n
  • Sab qatl ho ke tere muquabil se aaye hain 
  • Sahal yoon raah-e-zindagi ki hai (rejected by everyone for poor poetry)
And  of course I have been toying with the nazm -bol ke lab azaad hain tere (though not yet sung with any accompanying artist, because I am yet to be fully convinced about its music) I have a feeling I am missing out on something else here. But till I look up my books, I cannot recall which one it is.

Who knows, since I have Faiz back on my harmonium these days, I may start working on something more...the idea is to be suffused with the poetry. But alas! cannot sing this all in one program unless that program itself is around Faiz. But I know I have done a neat job -taken me nearly 5-7 years of silently working that point now where when artists listen to me, they nod in appreciation. The world may never hear me, but when artists nod, I know I have been true to myself, my music and my riyaaz.

The title of this blog post is from Faiz's ghazal- sham e firaq ab na poochch

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ahmad Faraz

I have always believed that to sing a poet by understanding their philosophy over a period of time, slowly interacting with the person and then trying to even understand what was the historical context of their poetry.

Sometimes, of course, one is enriched upon interacting with individuals who know so much on the issue. Meeting poets themselves is the best that can happen.

How I have ran into individual poets is a different path for each one, but just recently I accidentally picked up a collected of Janab Ahmad Faraz. In that I found one of the most beautiful ghazals i could have imagined by anyone-

اے خدا آج اسے سبکا مکقدّر کر دے 
وہ موحبّت کے جو انسان کو پیامبر کر دے 
This is among the most amazing ideas i could have ever encountered. WOW

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

at the crossroads today

आज फिर उसी मंज़र पर मैं हूँ जहाँ फिर एक उदासी मेरा साथी है

फिर एक दोराहा , फिर वोही वीरानी वोही सन्नाटा ...लेकिन यह एक दोरहा ही है, कोई मकाम नहीं 

और यह दुनिया के मेले, इन् में हर कोई साथ है, लेकिन यह भी सच बात नहीं 

पता नहीं आज यहाँ कैसे आ निकले 

Whenever i face the prospect of a split, whether I should sing classical music or ghazal , this happens to me- the crossroad suddenly crops up!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My eyes brim every time

Today after a long time I decided to sing Nasir; one of my favourite poets from Pakistan, apart from Faiz.
I just managed to sing two lines of this ghazal and my heart wept, tears came out of my eyes. I wonder if I will ever be able to sing this poem out aloud. there is so much of pain in this at the act of barbarism in the world.
 شہر دار شہر گھر ججلاےگیے 
یوں بھی جشن-ا-تراب مانے 
 shehar dar shehar ghar jaalaaye gaye
yoon bhi jashan-e-tarab manaaye gaye

my simple annnotation-
(town after town was burnt down
this way also some celebrated their joys)

शहर दर शहर घर जलाए गए 
यूं भी जशने तरब मनाये गए 

I think it will take a lot of valour in the hear to sing this one, because the moment I attempt it, the pictures of houses burning, people screaming, smoke, running feet, heat, commotions fill my mind- as though I am sitting in the midst of it and trying to sing!

Ek naya taraana

A few days back, I composed for the first time a tarana, by Faiz. Over the past weekend I sang it with Mishraji, and today rehearsed with Chandan. It is one of those progressive taranas written in the revolutionary genre and the lyrics are very powerful. I really hope someday I would be able to record all the Faiz compositions I have in my repertoire-

This is the tarana

Darbar-e-watan mein jab ek din, sab jaane wale jaayein

دربارے وطنکچھ اپنی  میں جب ایک دن سسب جانے والے جآ یئ گے  
سزا کو پہونچن گے ، کچھ اپنی جزا لے جاییں گے 

Kuchh apni saza ko pahuncheinge, kuchh apni jazaa le jaayeinge

I am not sure if this is looking like any particular raga. I thought I started with basant mukhari, but then a shudh nishad came into the picture. So now it has two nishads, two rikhabs and dhaivata komal and an occasional other note komal. Some version of Bhairavi I reckon.

But the melody is very powerful and I am very happy for all the new compositions that I am working on; which are two ghazals of Ahmad Faraz saab, four of Naseem bhai and this one of Faiz. Oh yes! I have even dug out the abandoned stock of Faiz and starting elaboration on those -making the Faiz lot about 9-10 compositions. Not bad I think. Almost a concert length and certainly longer than an album size.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The first ghazal concert also reviewed:)

Full News

Attaining bliss

KATHMANDU: “Ghazal is like kajal of the eyes of poetry,” said Indian artiste Naahid Prateekshya Sharma, sharing that the statement was told to her by someone, at an event Soz-e-Ghazal, a musical evening with her. Sharma performed soulful ghazals of Indian and Pakistani poets at the musical soiree organised by the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) on March 2 at Durbar Hall, Balmandir, Naxal.

Like she had hoped — that the evening would turn out to be beautiful, that is what happened through her heart touching ghazals. The sound of tabala by Tansen Sriwastva and harmonium by Indu Prakash added to the melody. Together they performed ghazals like Duniya Ko Tune Ishq Ke Quabil Banaa Diya, Raaz Ko Raaz Hi Rakha Hota and Khwab Mein Koi Khabar Rakh Dena to name a few.

Sharma has been trained for over two decades in classical music and is a bhakti singer which was crystal clear through her performance. She had a powerful voice and sang her heart out.

To Binod Rai from Dallu, who has just started to learn music, Sharma’s voice was the best part of the evening. “Her voice is clear and good,” he expressed. “I really don’t have much knowledge about music but the raagas she sang was great!”

Music enthusiasts like Rai were enjoying the feel of the ghazals. They were taking in every rise and fall of notes as well as the meaning of the ghazals by Kabir and Meera Bai, which were about suffering, secrets and hope.

After listening to Sharma’s ghazals, Rai shared that he experienced peace and satisfaction. “The way I feel relaxed after listening to Jagjit Singh, I felt the same after her performance,” he stated.

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Many thanks to Santhosh Kumar Kana for sending this across.