Monday, March 11, 2013

Mehfil-E-Rang-O-Noor: My first Ghazal Concert

So here we are

21st March 2013, 7:15pm, Thursday
Pyare Lal Bhawan,
Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi.


A program which features two artists, of whom I shall be singing ghazal and the other one Bhajans.

It took a long time for this concert to happen and a huge amount of changes too. While it started initially as an album release program by the time we came around to it, became a Holi program, with the CD release happening possibly a little later, though certainly not in March. The CD itself underwent a change from being a public art production thing- with largely revolutionary poetry, some of which is also sung with male chorus with me, to a full seven song Faiz album. (Technically this is my debut ghazal concert)

So this concert is about introducing me as a ghazal artist, which i have taken the longest time to acknowledge, as I was unsure what sort of poetry I want to sing. I shall be singing mostly radical poetry which reflects the angst of society, the pain of discrimination, the voices of anger and protest and that poetry which rouses people to unite in a meaningful manner towards social change.

Naturally Faiz is high on preference- with Darbar-e-watan (tarana) having been set to a very strong tune and 'Bol' (nazm) too. For now I would not do a program without the Iqbal Bano- Hum Dekheinge. But since this is NOT a Faiz program alone, it may not be possible to do more than two or three of his. Nasir- badli naa uski rooh kisi inqualab main is among those I am still toying with or so many others are there (which i had composed at the time the Tsunami came in 2004)

Anyhow we are all getting ready, had the first rehearsal yesterday. I will probably have a tanpura in my hand on stage too as this instrument is the backbone of my music. The harmonium artist is very gifted and there is of course Kamaal Ahmed on sarangi, who does not need an introduction. I have yet to meet the tabla-artist for rehearsal, which would happen only next week now.

I do want to share here why i am calling this my FIRST CONCERT though last year that has already happened in Kathmandu. Actually last year I was not ready for it and I got invited just because the person behind it heard me singing Kabir at a small gathering in a friend's home...and upon hearing me invited me for two concerts, since I was on the panel of ICCR. But I was not yet keen to perform ghazal as I felt it needed more honing, more calming down, more discipline. So last summer I worked a lot on this genre. Over those few months my repertoire became bigger, richer and more close to my heart. Of course my efforts at learning  Urdu gave me more confidence, but I have still to take it up again as they got aborted after 8-10 months, for want of adequate resources.

October onward I got back to classical music and in November ghazal was simply not there on the horizon and it was bhakti music again for me. But the pull of the ghazal is too strong and no thanks to the anger on the streets and the angst of the times, I got down to thinking, "What sort of music would I be contributing to this, if i have to?" Can it be bhakti music, can it be khayal? Or should it be something more radical, which is NOT the stereotype ghazal of sharab/shabab- but the sort of poetry which challenges the existing structures- of gender, of state, of what is peace, what is war, what is nation, who are my people ....and so on. That is what my ghazal is all about. Taking the definition of art to 'art for social change'- THAT IS ME.

Last interesting bit is that the master of ceremonies of the evening...belongs to the lineage of Bahadur Shah Zafar!:)- the last emperor of India and the venue is also on a road named after him. For those who will come themselves he would be visible, for I do not want to introduce him here.