Narrating The Ghazal Renaissance: Narendra Kusnur On The Rise Of Ghazal Shows

Narrating The Ghazal Renaissance: Narendra Kusnur On The Rise Of Ghazal Shows

The past 15 days have provided some good moments for Mumbai’s ghazal lovers, with three events held at small-sized venues

Narendra KusnurUpdated: Sunday, June 02, 2024, 11:04 AM IST
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The past 15 days have provided some good moments for Mumbai’s ghazal lovers, with three events held at small-sized venues. It began on May 17 at the Veda Kunba Theatre in Andheri, with a show remembering maestro Pankaj Udhas on his birthday. The other two concerts, by singers Ghansham Vaswani and Runaa Rizvii Shivamani, were held at the compact NMACC Studio auditorium.

The action promises to intensify, with the June 22 Ghazal Bahaar event scheduled at Rajkot, Gujarat, with Ashok Khosla, Ghansham Vaswani, Radhika Chopra and Jazim Sharma in the line-up. This will be followed by the popular Khazana festival, which was Udhas’s passion project. Entries for the Talent Hunt contest at the festival, to be held at the Trident Hotel, Nariman Point, on July 26 and 27 are already being sought.

Let’s look at the three shows separately. The Pankaj Udhas remembrance was curated by the Indian Singers’ And Musicians’ Rights Association (Isamra), under the initiative of CEO Sanjay Tandon. The programme consisted of live performances and short speeches by the invited guests. Singers Talat Aziz, Anup Jalota, Ashok Khosla, Jaspinder Narula and Kavita Seth sang hits of Udhas, including Chitthi Aayi Hai, Ghungroo Toot Gaye, Deewaron Se Milkar Rona and La Pila De Sakhiya. Talat also sang his own hit Kaise Sukoon Paaoon, which Udhas loved, whereas Nitin Mukesh sang his father Mukesh’s songs O Jaane Waale and Jeena Yahaan.

The show was an apt tribute to Udhas, who passed away on February 26. Vaswani’s concert, on the other hand, was dedicated to modern Indian ghazal poets. While there have been poet-based thematic concerts before, many have included classical poets like Mirza Ghalib, Mir Taqi Mir and Dagh Dehlvi, besides Pakistani verse-smiths Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ahmed Faraaz and Qateel Shifai.

In contrast, Vaswani selected poets who blossomed after the late 1960s, including Nida Fazli, Qaisar-ul-Jafri, Sudarshan Faakir, Naqsh Lyallpuri, Rajesh Reddy, Shahryar and Dr Bashir Badr, besides the popular Javed Akhtar and Gulzar. The programme, held on May 19, was compered by the singer’s daughter Shivani Vaswani, who gave brief insights into the work of the poets.

In keeping with the title Kuch Kahi Kuch Ankahi, Vaswani’s set was a good mix of popular and rare, non-film and film. He paid tribute to his mentor Jagjit Singh by presenting Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya (Fazli), Woh Kaagaz Ki Kashti (Faakir), Shaam Se Aankh Mein (Gulzar) and, on request, Kal Chaudhvin Ki Raat Thi (by Pakistani poet Ibn-e-Insha). His own hit Hota Raha Tera Hi Bayaan, written by Saeed Rahi with music by Jagjit, was a highlight.

Runaa’s May 25 show had another concept, as she began with ghazals but moved on to a solitary Rajasthani folk number and Sufi music. While her vocals followed the traditional pattern, the instrumentation was contemporary and jazz-influenced, with keyboards, guitar, bass and drums joining tabla and flute. Her ghazals included the popular Ek Kasak Dil Ki Dil Mein and Yeh Berukhi Na Dikhao, based on her father Rajkumar Rizvi’s compositions. She also did a tribute to Pankaj Udhas (Aur Ahista Keejiye Baatein and Jeeye To Jeeye Kaise), before the Sufi part of the show. The conclusion was her version of the Sufi anthem Akhiyaan Udeek Diyaan.

Talking of Sufi music, keyboardist Abhijit Pohankar will do contemporary versions of the legendary Amir Khusro’s work with his group at Veda Kunba on June 7. On the ghazal front, one looks forward to Khazana, which has created an impact in Mumbai for the past 23 years not only for promoting ghazals, but also for raising funds for the Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA) and Parents Association Thalassemic Unit Trust (Patut).

Each year, Khazana has featured a mix of experienced artistes and younger talent. This edition will be no exception. As one has observed often before, there is no shortage of fresh talent. One needs to showcase these artistes and for that, more event managers and sponsors need to show interest. More young performers should also attract younger audiences – though one still sees more of the older generation in the audience.

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