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