Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Of Ghazals and Sufism

Chamakte Chaand ko toota hua taara banaa daala...meri awaragi ne mujhko aawaara banaa dalaa....Sounds like a rhyming prose or poetry at the best. But you need to hear the rendition from the Ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali to be mesmerised by the lyrics. I mean the import of the words is there definitely, but they pound you with an intensity altogether different when sung in the Ghazal. Outside Cricket and Bollywood, he may be one of the handful personalities who enjoy such high patronage and liking on either side of the border. And why should he not. For that matter, the Ghazal tradition in Pakistan has flourished always. Mehdi Hassan and Abida Parveen are two more names that ring a bell of familiarity across India, both Pakistani scions. Meaningful poetry often laced with deep rooted philosophy and melody are two almost essential elements of a good Ghazal. Ofcourse sublime rendition like that by Ghulam Ali (Bade Ghulam Ali Sahab or even Chote G A) makes a Ghazal what it is. It may be of concern to the vetean patrons of the art that there seems to be little interest among the youngsters towards this sublime craft. The Ghazal evenings are far and few between in the day and age while the rockstars hog all the lime light and then more. The sensibility towards poetry seems to be declining and the romanticism ensconsed in it has few takers among the young. It is just not pacey enough. But they might well be keeping themselves bereft of a flavour of living.
    Another art form or rather more so a way of life indeed is Sufism or the rendition of Quawwalis.  Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan can be credited to internationalize this music form. Sufi music has been cultured and practised in praise of the almighty for no less than six or seven centuries. The saints of yonder and old expressed their love and devotion to god through the mystical Sufi music. And the tradition flourished. This music form enlivens and charged the ambience like no other. Often incorporating high pitch truisms, the best proponents of the art form have been widely classed as among the most capable singers. Nusrat is a very good example to boot. Quawwalis have specially taken centerstage in Bollywood over the decades. And Pakistan continues to be the land of genesis for the best talent there is in both these music forms. Here is hoping that the practitioners would always find enough patronage for these music styles to sustain and flourish in times to come.

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