Narendra Kusnur Writes About Amir Khusrau in Current Times

Narendra Kusnur Writes About Amir Khusrau in Current Times

Of the first two songs released from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Netflix series Heeramandi, Tilasmi Bahein has been composed by Bhansali

Narendra KusnurUpdated: Sunday, April 21, 2024, 02:21 AM IST
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Of the first two songs released from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Netflix series Heeramandi, Tilasmi Bahein has been composed by Bhansali, sung by Sharmistha Chatterjee and written by A.M. Turaz. The other, released first, is a rendition of Sakal Ban Phool Rahi Sarson, written by the legendary Amir Khusrau (1253-1325) and sung here by Raja Hassan.

A composition in raag Bahar, Sakal Ban has been earlier recorded by many artistes, from the Sabri Brothers and Warsi Brothers to Ustad Aslam Khan and Bilqees Khanum-Ishrat Jahan. Besides the popular Coke Studio Pakistan version featuring Rizwan and Muazzam Ali Khan, there’s a techno-club take by Mughal-e-Funk, sung by Meesha Shafi. Yet, because of the choreography and the star cast of Manisha Koirala and Richa Chadha, the Heeramandi rendition has in a way revived the song.

The noteworthy thing is that 700 years after he passed away, Khursau’s creations find a regular place in today’s music performances. A spiritual disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, the Delhi-settled scholar is credited by musicologists as the creator of the qawwali, ghazal and tarana. He wrote in both Persian and the Hindavi dialect. In this column, we shall look at some of his popular songs, with listening recommendations.

Some of Khusrau’s work has made its way into Hindi films and popular television shows. The best-known example perhaps is Chaap Tilak Sab Cheeni Re, sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, and set to music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal in the 1978 film Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki. While the Coke Studio Pakistan version by Abida Parveen and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan became popular, it is sung at the end of many Sufi concerts to leave audiences on a high.

Also used in films were Aaj Rang Hai, heard in Junoon (1978) and Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), and Zehal-e-Miskin, re-created In Ghulami (1985). In the 2003 film Chori Chori, Afroz Bano and Farida Khan sang the moving Amma Mere Babul Ko Bhejo Ri. Later, Malini Awasthi sang a version in her own style.

Two popular songs at concerts are Aaj Rang Hai and Mann Kunto Maula, both of which had excellent renditions by qawwal Munnawar Masoom at his recent show at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre’s Studio theatre. Recordings of Rang worth checking out are by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Hadiqa Kiani and Radhika Sood Nayak. For Man Kunto Maula, both Nusrat and Abida have done immaculate versions. For a more contemporary approach, Pakistani Grammy winner Arooj Aftab did her own take in 2014. The main line was also used in the 2013 film Gunday, without crediting Khusrau.

That brings us to Main To Piya Se Naina, which has been recorded by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Wadali Brothers and Sona Mohapatra, among others. Other Khusrau favourites include Ai Ri Sakhi More Piya Ghar Aaye, recorded by the late Ustad Rashid Khan, and the bidaai song Kaahe Ko Byaahi Bides, by Malini Awasthi.

Besides regular recordings, there have been other efforts to keep the legend’s legacy alive. Many compositions are presented at music festivals like Jahan-e-Khusrau, initiated by filmmaker Muzaffar Ali, and Khusrau-Kabir, organised by Banyan Tree. Though there is a lot of written material on him, it would be ideal to watch the Films Division documentary Amir Khusro, directed by Omprakash Sharma, or the film Khusrau Dariya Prem Ka, directed by Youssuf Saeed and featuring Ankit Chadha and Rene Singh. Both films are available on YouTube.

Last but not the least, there is the play Aaj Rang Hai, written by Purva Naresh. The ideal experience would be to catch a live performance, but one can also watch it in the Zee Theatre segment of the Zee5 OTT platform. Here, Trishla Patel plays Beni Bai, a former baithak singer who keeps spreading Khusrau’s message of equality and harmony, by telling stories of his life to neighbours. A parallel love story between a Muslim boy and Hindu girl runs through, as a live group plays songs written by the maestro. It’s a great theatrical tribute to the genius of Khusrau.

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