Ghazals Romantic songs

Animal magnetism…

I actually first heard a terrible caricature of this song using the same mukhda from a very nasal Kumar Sanu, from an early 90s movie called Soldier with Bobby Deol and Preity Zinta. I wonder which army in the world except the Taliban or its overground arm, the TTP would allow a soldier to grow his hair to shoulder length mop of unkempt curls? Soon after this I discovered this gem by the # 2 Ghazal singer in my books ( distant after the unquestionable #1, the incomparable Mehdi Hassan) . Amazingly a few days back when I’d heard it a few times on loop in my car, my wise Ghazal Aficionado friend from Philadelphia sent me the same link in a personal message.

The simple, straightforward ghazal is by Agha Bismil. A narrative that’s easy to understand.

तेरी बात ही सुनाने आये, दोस्त भी दिल ही दुखाने आये
फूल खिलते हैं तो हम सोचते हैं तेरे आने का ज़माने आये

शायद मुझे निकाल के पछता रहे हो आप
महफ़िल में इस ख़याल से फिल आ गया हूँ मैं

महफ़िल में बार बार किसी पर नज़र गई
हमने बचाई लाख मगर फिर उधर गई

उनकी नज़र में कोई तो जादू ज़ुरूर है
जिस पर पड़ी, उसी के जिगर तक उतर गई

उस बेवफा की आँख से आंसू झलक पड़े
हसरत भारी निगाह बड़ा काम कर गई

उनके जमाल-इ-रुख पे उन्ही का जमाल था
वोह चल दिए तो रौनक-इ-शाम-ओ-सहर गई

उनको खबर करो के है बिस्मिल करीब-इ-मर्ग
वोह आयेंगे ज़ुरूर जो उन तक खबर गई

An amazing ghazal that Ghulam Ali rendered before he sadly fell into the habit of playing to the gallery, at the cost of his gayaki. When he used to sing sincerely, he was good and I have some very good memories of the times. Sadly, later he sacrificed that for cheap thrills of showboating and evoking admiration from the baser elements of the audience. He couldn’t ever match the purity of the great Khansaheb Mehdi Ali sahab for the exhilarating, sublime singing, ever, but he does have a style that’s more in keeping with his extroversion. Mehdi sahab remained truly committed to his craft and I’ve never heard him indulge in vocal antics like our man.

Thanks to Nick Maneckshaw that I wrote this piece, an indication of what Ghulam Ali can do, if he sets his mind to it.

Stay safe, folks. Stay happy and healthy. Enjoy the monsoon in retreat over our great country.

Ghazals Romantic songs

Come stay if only for a few days…

I was returning from the hospital after a high risk angioplasty had gone off well.

A relatively young man who’d been poorly managed during a heart attack he sustained 10 days ago in a district place in South Maharashtra and landed up with a very weak heart as a result. He came with the most important artery to the heart blocked totally (100%) & the other one to the left side of the heart showing 95% narrowing; and to boot there was little or no support from the artery on the right side of the heart, plus the recent major attack, the poor guy’s options were limited. He had actually been advised a bypass surgery by the Cardiologist who did the angiogram, but the surgeon who was consulted developed selective hypothermia of the distal portions of his inferior extremities on seeing the total picture ( cold feet in colloquial english), so I had this rather sultry spud dropped into my lap, a rather recurring event and direct result of spending four decades in professional life (increasingly now, cleaning up others’ mess).

Good planning before the procedure always looks an expression of overcautiousness to the novice, but then people of my generation know the S*** hits the fan when you’re looking the other way, least expecting it. 35 minutes into the procedure and two stents later, the man’s runaway heart rate had eased into double figures and BP was on the way up despite lower doses of drugs he had received from his primary hospital.

I got into the car and as I was crossing the bridge on the confluence of the two rivers that flow through Pune, the car audio played this song.

Paradoxically the opening lines talk of inviting someone to stay for at least a few days, and I had just inserted bits of metal that would stay there forever and release drug locally that would prevent the recurrence of obstruction to flow.

कुछ दिन तो बसो मिरी आँखों में

उबैदुल्लाह अलीम

कुछ दिन तो बसो मिरी आँखों में

फिर ख़्वाब अगर हो जाओ तो क्या

कोई रंग तो दो मिरे चेहरे को

फिर ज़ख़्म अगर महकाओ तो क्या

जब हम ही न महके फिर साहब

तुम बाद-ए-सबा कहलाओ तो क्या

इक आइना था सो टूट गया

अब ख़ुद से अगर शरमाओ तो क्या

तुम आस बंधाने वाले थे

अब तुम भी हमें ठुकराओ तो क्या

दुनिया भी वही और तुम भी वही

फिर तुम से आस लगाओ तो क्या

मैं तन्हा था मैं तन्हा हूँ

तुम आओ तो क्या न आओ तो क्या

जब देखने वाला कोई नहीं

बुझ जाओ तो क्या गहनाओ तो क्या

अब वहम है ये दुनिया इस में

कुछ खोओ तो क्या और पाओ तो क्या

है यूँ भी ज़ियाँ और यूँ भी ज़ियाँ

जी जाओ तो क्या मर जाओ तो क्या

I heard the ghazal once again, who wouldn’t do that to a melodious entreaty?

Guys do take care of your hearts, although I am an experienced plumber by now, I wouldn’t like to open up blocked tubes that could have stayed clean to start off with.

Have a wonderful day ahead.

Ghazals Introspective melodies

Reminder of an agreement

I woke up today with this song going around in my head from 4 am. I told Aruna about it, who commented “That’s odd, last night you were on Gary Lawyer’s The Other Side of Dawn”. That I most certainly was.

My mind went back to the song, an immortal ghazal from a time when the so called Moghuls actually contributed something of lasting value to our country which was not dripping blood or spelt genocide. The time when ironically the Moghul Sultanate was in an advanced state of pitiful decadence coincided with the period when the best poetry flourished in Delhi. Bahadurshah “Zafar” ‘s reign might have been limited by the ramparts of the old walled city of Delhi but the period of pain also had the best poets of the time (and perhaps of few centuries) : Zauq, Ghalib and Momin, just to name three. The best known of the troikaa, (at least in the popular perception amongst the lay public in India, the one with the best brand value thanks to the name being made popular or famous by TV serials and movies ), Ghalib, truly acknowledged the genius of Momin. Legend has it that he offered Momin the authorship and credits of Ghalib’s दीवान (entire poetry collection) in exchange of just one couplet of Momin’s. This couplet is the following enigmatic two lines:

तुम मेरे पास होते हो गोया
जब कोई दूसरा नही होता

An amazing tribute from one great to another and acknowledgement of the other’s class.

The ghazal, then, which has haunted me for the last few hours.

वो जो हम में तुम में क़रार था / मोमिन

वो जो हम में तुम में क़रार था तुम्हें याद हो के न याद हो|
वही यानी वादा निबाह का तुम्हें याद हो के न याद हो ।।१।।

वो जो लुत्फ़ मुझ पे थे बेशतर वो करम कि था मिरे हाल पर

मुझे सब है याद ज़रा ज़रा तुम्हें याद हो कि न याद हो।

वो नये गिले वो शिकायतें वो मज़े मज़े की हिकायतें,
वो हर एक बात पे रूठना तुम्हें याद हो के न याद हो ।।२।।
कोई बात ऐसी अगर हुई जो तुम्हारे जी को बुरी लगी,
तो बयाँ से पहले ही भूलना तुम्हें याद हो के न याद हो|
सुनो ज़िक्र है कई साल का, कोई वादा मुझ से था आप का,
वो निभाने का तो ज़िक्र क्या, तुम्हें याद हो के न याद हो|
कभी हम में तुम में भी चाह थी, कभी हम से तुम से भी राह थी,
कभी हम भी तुम भी थे आश्ना, तुम्हें याद हो के न याद हो ।।३।।
हुए इत्तेफ़ाक़ से गर बहम, वो वफ़ा जताने को दम-ब-दम,
गिला-ए-मलामत-ए-अर्क़बा, तुम्हें याद हो के न याद हो|
वो जो लुत्फ़ मुझ पे थे बेश्तर, वो करम के हाथ मेरे हाथ पर,
मुझे सब हैं याद ज़रा ज़रा, तुम्हें याद नो कि न याद हो|
कभी बैठे सब हैं जो रू-ब-रू तो इशारतों ही से गुफ़्तगू,
वो बयान शौक़ का बरमला तुम्हें याद हो कि न याद हो|
वो बिगड़ना वस्ल की रात का, वो न मानना किसी बात का,
वो नहीं नहीं की हर आन अदा, तुम्हें याद हो कि न याद हो|
जिसे आप गिनते थे आश्ना जिसे आप कहते थे बावफ़ा,
मैं वही हूँ “मोमिन”-ए-मुब्तला तुम्हें याद हो के न याद हो ।।४।।

                   मोमिन खाँ “मोमिन’

A beautiful ghazal that needs to be understood in detail and appreciated. The best known rendition of the ghazal is by the grand old lady of Urdu Ghazal singing, the unchallenged Mallika e Ghazal, the one and only Akhtaribai Faizabadi, who we refer to often as Begum Akhtar. The lady could muster an unimaginable level of dard (the english ‘pain’ just doesn’t come close to the original word in its ability to convey the true meaning), she would truly be remembered for being the foremost singer of ghazals, thumris, and dadra in our country. I have naturally included her rendition at the top of the playlist. Countless others have covered this beautiful ghazal but no other version (to my utterly biased mind) comes close. I am unashamedly prepared to admit publicly I adore her oeuvre more than anyone else of the genre and I am sure a lot of you would agree. The composition is amazing, using the Sarangi and the Santoor so imaginatively. This composition is by Mohammad Zahoor Khayyam. The original ghazal has many more ash’aars but Begumsahiba has sung only 4, so I’ve italicised these and explained some words I feel might need such an explanation. I am, as usual, open to suggestions and corrections from any of you who understand the language better than me. 

वो जो हम में तुम में क़रार था तुम्हें याद हो के न याद हो|
वही यानी वादा निबाह का तुम्हें याद हो के न याद हो ।।१।।

[क़रार =  understanding, agreement, deal
निबाह = stay/live together, loyalty]

वो नये गिले वो शिकायतें वो मज़े मज़े की हिकायतें,
वो हर एक बात पे रूठना तुम्हें याद हो के न याद हो ।।२।।

[गिले = dissatisfaction, resentment
शिकायतें = complaints
हिक़ायतें = stories]

कभी हम में तुम में भी चाह थी, कभी हम से तुम से भी राह थी,
कभी हम भी तुम भी थे आश्ना, तुम्हें याद हो के न याद हो ।।३।।

[आश्ना = यार, दोस्त, dear friend]

जिसे आप गिनते थे आश्ना जिसे आप कहते थे बावफ़ा,
मैं वही हूँ “मोमिन”-ए-मुब्तला तुम्हें याद हो के न याद हो ।।४।।

[बावफ़ा = loyal
आश्ना = यार, दोस्त, dear friend
मुब्तला = ग्रस्त, पीड़ित, आशिक]

Ghulam Ali’s version is also worth listening in to. He is softer than usual and I liked it. As with all these greats, their versions from various live programs sound so different from one other. That’s actually an excuse for people like me to listen in to all of them so I can enjoy the differing flavours. In one rendition (as in this clip) he actually starts with his mentor’s famous thumri “ka karoon sajani aaye na baalam…….”

The Shehenshah-e-Ghazal, Khansaheb Mehdi Hassan has a different version that’s worthy and unforgettable, too.   He is just amazing.

An amazing, recurring phenomenon this, a song just goes around in my head for an audience of one. Funny how certain memory circuits get activated without even trying to recall those memories. Stay safe, folks and stay healthy. Enjoy the amazing verse and the three renditions by giants in the field

Asha Bhosale Ghazals

Up the ladder of notes…..

I first heard this album, a collaboration between two legends across the British made divide, each very creative in her/his right and respecting each other’s craft and skill, some three decades ago.

Asha Bhosle lends her voice to Ghulam Ali‘s compositions giving a musical form to some really outstanding pieces of verse. The effect of combining all three elements : great poetry, excellent, melodious compositions and fabulous, enchanting vocals are predictably sublime.

Listen to this one fantastic example from a dozen that are found in one album the 2 unquestionable geniuses collaborated in the creation of, Meraj-e-Ghazal:

The ghazal is just fantastic, a small one, really, by Saleem Gilani. Sheer romanticism and longing expressed in just 10 lines:

रात जो तूने दीप बुझाये

रात जो तूने दीप बुझाये मेरे थे
अश्क़ जो तारीकी ने छुपाये मेरे थे

कैफ़-ए-बहाराँ महर-ए-निगाराँ लुत्फ़-ए-जुनूँ
मौसम-ए-गुल के महके साये मेरे थे

मेरे थे वो ख़ाब जो तूने छीन लिये
गीत जो होंठों पर मुरझाये मेरे थे

आँचल आंचल गेसू गेसू चमन चमन
सारी ख़ुश्बू मेरी साये मेरे थे

साहिल साहिल लहरें जिसको ढूँढती हैं
माज़ी के वो महके साये मेरे थे

An excellent, soulful rendition. A wonderful, magical amalgamation of words, musical notes and vocals. The same ghazal was rendered at length by Ghulam Ali himself and the flavour (& effect) are expectedly quite different. More relaxed, expansive and unhurried.

Nearly 3 times the length of Ashatai’s rendition, it satiates in a very different way.

I discovered, much to my pleasant surprise that the same ghazal has been covered by several others, but I will cite and include only one: Farida Khanum. Her treatment is quite different and to me sounded more like a film song.–OI

As I write, the sun has come out spreading bright optimism on a sombre, dark grey sky. Stay happy, healthy and enjoy the 75th anniversary of the great country we are fortunate and blessed to stay in.

Ghazals Introspective melodies Nocturnal melodies

Never thought things would come to this pass….

My friend asked me which ghazal singer do I like the most. My answer was ready and I just told the friend this. Pat came the counterquestion:  why do I like Mehdi Hasan so much more than Ghulam Ali?

The answer to that is best exemplified by this one melody .

Ghulam Ali is a performer, not just a singer. He wastes no opportunity to coax, to cajole, to convince and to conquer. He therefore spends (at least to the purist) an inordinate amount of time in (whenever the opportunity presents itself) playing to the gallery. Khansaheb Mehdi Hasan on the other hand is much more the honest singer who will stick to the basics of singing his melodies in the only way he has been trained to sing, sticking to the narrow and the middle path without veering off on diversionary alleyways only to entertain and seek applause. Of all the ghazal singers I have heard in my life, Mehdi Hasan had the best ability to deliver emotion especially of the darker shades of grey, a rare talent and one that separates very good singers of our music from the great ones. If I had to choose a singer to convey melancholia, it would only have to be Talat Mahmood or Mehdi Hassan. This emotion that his voice carried like no one else was unmistakably masculine but always convincingly melancholic. Listening to his many creations feels like an act of devotion, he makes singing a spiritual experience much as a Pandit Jasrajji, Bharatratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Shivkumar Sharma, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Bismillah Khan, or even a Alla Rakha or any of his illustrious sons put across in the exquisite display of their respective oeuvre. Look at Ghulam Ali’s radically different style. He toys with the audience and plays on words, lines as no one else perhaps can, and makes the entire experience a much more joyous one. Forget the devotional/ spiritual part to Mehdi Hasan, Ghulam Ali is the quintessential showman, much as Raj Kapoor was, much the ostentatious exhibitionist and the ornate histrionics that are always part of his performance are perhaps what define him.

The ghazal is based on a wonderful, treacly sweet raag, Rageshri. Rageshri is a Khamaj Thaat raag, and an audav-shaadav raag at that. An extremely melodious raag of the late night, it is best to listen to this between midnight and 3 a.m. Try it once to realise what a huge difference it makes once you stick to the temporal limitations or conventions, the same raag sounds a tad sweeter.

Every time Ghulam Ali sahab sings the ghazal written by Adeem Hashmi, see his languorously dribbling the word Faasle” so many times right at the outset of the ghazal and later on as well, he just uses it as a touchstone one must come back to and prove oneself by. Also in every ash’aar, you will find a lot more showboating, playing to the gallery, acting up, cavorting, clowning around, horsing around, hotdogging, skylarking and generally monkeying around. I guess he is himself convinced if he didn’t do it he would not be recognised as the same singer.

Sadly, this reached such irrational proportions in the later years, I did the unthinkable and actually walked out of a live concert (not wanting to sully my memories of the man’s singing), the last time he held one in Pune.

फ़ासले ऐसे भी होंगे ये कभी सोचा न था

अदीम हाशमी

फ़ासले ऐसे भी होंगे ये कभी सोचा न था ,
सामने बैठा था मेरे और वो मेरा न था

वो कि ख़ुशबू की तरह फैला था मेरे चार-सू ,
मैं उसे महसूस कर सकता था छू सकता न था

रात भर पिछली सी आहट कान में आती रही,
झाँक कर देखा गली में कोई भी आया न था

मैं तेरी सूरत लिए सारे ज़माने में फिरा ,
सारी दुनिया में मगर कोई तेरे जैसा न था

आज मिलने की ख़ुशी में सिर्फ़ मैं जागा नहीं,
तेरी आँखों से भी लगता है कि तू सोया न था ..

ये सभी वीरानियाँ उस के जुदा होने से थीं ,
आँख धुँधलाई हुई थी शहर धुँधलाया न था
सैंकड़ों तूफ़ान लफ़्ज़ों में दबे थे ज़ेर-ए-लब ,
एक पत्थर था ख़मोशी का कि जो हटता न था
याद कर के और भी तकलीफ़ होती थी ‘अदीम’ ,
भूल जाने के सिवा अब कोई भी चारा न था
मस्लहत ने अजनबी हम को बनाया था ‘अदीम’,
वरना कब इक दूसरे को हम ने पहचाना न था

An unusual ghazal as the maqta appears not just once but twice. I wonder why Adeem Hashmi used the instrument of indelibly leaving the poet’s signature on the verse once again. As usual, the ghazal doesn’t quite sound the same when covered by others.

Stay safe, folks, as the rains sweep in to the hinterlands of the country and hopes alight in hundreds of millions of subsistence farmers in the dust and grime of our country. I am mentally already in a different place and look forward to a special extra program on AIR Delhi this weekend.

Bageshree Nocturnal melodies Serenity

A melody for the night….

I was contemplating for a few minutes after dinner and it struck me we were a few minutes away from 9 pm. In the Hindustani Classical Music thought, 9 pm to 12 midnight is the time for Bageshree. A beautiful raag,  it is meant to depict the emotion of a woman waiting for reunion with her lover. It is said to have been first rendered by Tansen, that myths claim sang for Akbar. Amongst Bollywood composers, it was the most liked and widely used by none other than C Ramchandra, who really found it easy to make unforgettable melodies out of. The maestros use it in Shadav-Sampoorna as well as Audav-Sampoorna forms.

I will start with a common version of a very popular ghazal by Ghulam Ali, based on the raag:

The ghazal by Rifat Sultan are fabulous.

बहारों को चमन याद आ गया है…… रिफ’अत सुलतान

बहारों को चमन याद आ गया है
मुझे वो गुल-बदन याद आ गया है

लचकती शाख़ ने जब सर उठाया
किसी का बाँकपन याद आ गया है

मिरी ख़ामोशियों पर हँसने वालो
मुझे वो कम-सुख़न याद आ गया है

तुम्हें मिल कर तो ऐ यज़्दाँ-परस्तो
ग़ुरूर-ए-अहरमन याद आ गया है

तिरी सूरत को जब देखा है मैं ने
उरूज-ए-फ़िक्र-ओ-फ़न याद आ गया है

किसी का ख़ूबसूरत शे’र सुन कर
तिरा लुत्फ़-ए-सुख़न याद आ गया है

मिले वो अजनबी बन कर तो ‘रिफ़अत’
ज़माने का चलन याद आ गया है

As is usual with these legendary giants of the genre, there are multiple, equally good renditions of varying lengths from live concerts, each one as enjoyable and exquisite as the other. Listen to this one, apparently the first time he sang it (in a concert, or could be, going by his narration, the first time ever!):

Listen to this sublime rendition by the maestro, my most favourite instrumentalist with this magical piece, by the man who made me believe in the divinity of music of Shrikrishna when he created mass hypnosis with the same. Maybe the Lord’s favourite son was sent to hypnotize our generations:

This one has Fazal Qureshi, Ustad Alla Rakha’s son on the tabla. All three of them are just fabulous and worthy claimants to the father’s throne, or shall I say, tabla?

Enjoy the three clips, folks. They will undoubtedly give me much joy and peace tonight. Stay healthy and happy

Ghazals Introspective melodies Romantic songs

Apni Tasveer ko

Woke up thinking of this melody today morning. I hadn’t heard it for a very long time, as I have been more into Mehdi Hassan ghazals of late. I was surprised but only for a few moments. I like Ghulam Ali’s early avataar, not the later part of his career, where he actually resorted to more showmanship and less gayaki. The only live concert I’ve ever walked out of was his in Ganesh Kreeda Manch in Pune 2 decades ago. This poignant ghazal is from the early period. It showcases the best aspects of Ghulam Ali’s oeuvre.

Ghulam Ali’s selection of poetry for his renditions was impeccable, the ghazal by Shahzad Ahmed is very simply constructed, without choosing ornate words but is extremely meaningful. The choice of accompanying instruments in the studio version is very simple and complement each other beautifully: flute, sitar and tabla. The ghazal isn’t rendered in full in either the studio version (constraints of time, surely) nor have I heard it in any of his live concert versions either. In the latter, you will find much greater freedom taken by the singer as well as given to the tabalchi. It is such a pleasure to hear the longer versions, the tabalchi breaks into a longer piece showing his dexterity while I imagine Ghulam Ali smile benignly and encouragingly at the liberty, while he is himself planning his own languorous exposition next, forcing the tabalchi into changing the taal so as not to miss the sam. A jousting that adds to the beauty of the composition and the ghazal.

This is the best part of ghazal gayaki. Successfully bridging popular low brow music of the hoi polloi with the pure Hindustani Classical music of the elite and the high brow. One cannot enjoy it in a gulp. One must necessarily savour it sip by sip, like a rare wine or let it roll around the mouth stimulating, satiating and pleasing all the senses like a fine chocolate. Here is yet another, even longer concert version.

This was the longest version I found and really enjoyed hearing. Half an hour over a single ghazal. Auditory enchantment and entrapment.

अपनी तस्वीर को आँखों से लगाता क्या है — शहज़ाद अहमद

अपनी तस्वीर को आँखों से लगाता क्या है,
एक नज़र मेरी तरफ देख तेरा जाता क्या है

मेरी रुसवाई में तू भी है बराबर का शरीक़,
मेरे किस्से मेरे यारों को सुनाता क्या है

पास रहकर भी न पहचान सका तू मुझको,
दूर से देखकर अब हाथ हिलाता क्या है

सफ़रे शौक में क्यूँ कांपते हैं पाँव तेरे,
आँख रखता है तो फिर आँख चुराता क्या है

उम्र भर अपने गरेबां से उलझने वाले,
तू मुझे मेरे ही साये से डराता क्या है

मर गए प्यास के मारे तो उठा अबरे करम,
बुझ गयी बज़्म तो अब शम्मा ज़लाता क्या है

मैं तेरा कुछ भी नहीं हूँ मगर इतना तो बता,
देखकर मुझको तेरे ज़ेहन में आता क्या है

तुझमें कुछ बल है दुनिया को बहाकर लेजा,
चाय की प्याली में तूफ़ान उठाता क्या है

तेरी आवाज़ का जादू न चलेगा उनपर,
जागने वालो को ‘शहजाद’ जगाता क्या है

Addictive, this stuff… Impossible to shake it off, I will carry the heady intoxication and the kaif with me all day today. Have fun, folks. I am mentally already in a different space, and will likely remain there for a long time.

Ghazals Introspective melodies

Transcending all expectations…

I first heard this ghazal as part of a dozen ghazals sung by my favourite female singer from Bollywood , Asha Bhosle (her famous older sibling notwithstanding). Ghulam Ali has sung 4 duets out of the ensemble collection, Ashatai has rendered the other 8 as soulful solos. A collection of truly brilliant ghazals by varied poets, I’ve heard Meraj-e-Ghazal many times, and of late, made a greater attempt to understand the words and the nuances expressed as much as enjoy the composition and exquisite vocals. The album is strung together with such priceless gems, one is spoilt for choice. I have spoken of one of the ghazals a couple of months ago, this is another beautiful creation by the duo of Ashatai and Ghulam Ali. The vinyl double record set was released 4 decades ago, in 1983. The enduring quality of great music is such that I haven’t tired of hearing any of these outstanding pieces nearly 40 years on, I would have definitely heard it at least 40 times.

This is a wonderful, sublime example of the quality of each of the dozen pieces:

The Shehenshah-e-ghazal, Khansaheb Mehdi Hassan sahab has rendered this ghazal for decades before the Ashatai album emerged, he sang it in the very melodious, serious raag Natbhairav.

A wonderful ghazal, rendered at length by Ghulam Ali in a live program. I just love these maestro’s ability and desire to expound at length without any constraints of time, whenever they are in the mood. Freed of temporal constraints, they just let go and soar free, bringing a sense of auditory and spiritual satiation to the audience.

हैरतों के सिलसिले सोज़-ए-निहाँ तक आ गए: काबिल अजमेरी

हैरतों के सिलसिले सोज़-ए-निहाँ तक आ गए

हम नज़र तक चाहते थे तुम तो जाँ तक आ गए….

ना-मुरादी अपनी क़िस्मत गुमरही अपना नसीब

कारवाँ की ख़ैर हो हम कारवाँ तक आ गए…..

उन की पलकों पर सितारे अपने होंटों पे हँसी

क़िस्सा-ए-ग़म कहते कहते हम कहाँ तक आ गए…..

ज़ुल्फ़ में ख़ुशबू न थी या रंग आरिज़ में न था

आप किस की आरज़ू में गुल्सिताँ तक आ गए…..

रफ़्ता रफ़्ता रंग लाया जज़्बा-ए-ख़ामोश-ए-इश्क़

वो तग़ाफ़ुल करते करते इम्तिहाँ तक आ गए

ख़ुद तुम्हें चाक-ए-गरेबाँ का शुऊ’र आ जाएगा

तुम वहाँ तक आ तो जाओ हम जहाँ तक आ गए

(उन की पलकों पर सितारे अपने होंटों पे हँसी

क़िस्सा-ए-ग़म कहते कहते हम कहाँ तक आ गए…..) This ash’aar has been used at the very end of Ashatai’s rendition and not where is belongs in the ghazal written by Zafar Qabil Ajmeri.

आज ‘क़ाबिल’ मय-कदे में इंक़लाब आने को है

अहल-ए-दिल अंदेशा-ए-सूद-ओ-ज़ियाँ तक आ गए

A chance recall first up in the morning, and bringing forth a panoply of emotions in just the three renditions. Time permitting, I will try to transliterate this amazing piece of verse , the beauty may not be appreciated by the casual listener who may be a greater novitiate in the language than I am.

Stay safe, folks and pray for a healthy monsoon to lower the temperatures. Stay healthy and do visit later in the day(s to come)

Ghazals Momin Khan "Momin" Sad Songs

Etched into my memory for an eternity

I will always be indebted to my cousin Raviprakash Gurjar who actually initiated me on my journey of listening to Ghazals and appreciating them. When he came to stay with us for a few months when he relocated to Mumbai in the early 70s, one of his prized possessions was a cassette with ghazals by this amazing singer.

Although I had heard Mehdi Hassan‘s amazing renditions a few years earlier at my uncle’s home, Ravi’s cassette was heard repeatedly over those few months and I almost knew all the ghazals verbatim.

That’s almost Goebbelsian in its impact in a positive way, I would say. This ghazal has been playing inside my head from yesterday when I went for a long walk in the mountains. I sung a few bars to myself and Aruna is able to read my mind so well , she identified the melody from the few off key bars that escaped my lips, barely audibly.

The ghazal was written by Momin Khan Momin, who was actually a contemporary of Ghalib and Zauq. I have seen his grave in the campus of the MAMC, Delhi an apt place, for apart from being an accomplished poet, he was also a Hakim. He is thus often referred to in contemporary literature as “Hakim Khan” .

Something of a polymath, Momin was also interested in Mathematics, Chess, Geomancy, Astrology and Hindustani Classical Music. He unfortunately fell from the roof of his home and died young, barely 52 years of age.

रोया करेंगे आप भी पहरों इसी तरह

अटका कहीं जो आप का दिल भी मेरी तरह

आता नहीं है वो तो किसी ढब से दाव में

बनती नहीं है मिलने की उस के कोई तरह

तश्बीह किस से दूँ कि तरह-दार की मेरे

सब से निराली वज़ह है सब से नई तरह

मर चुक कहीं कि तू ग़म-ए-हिज्राँ से छूट जाए

कहते तो हैं भले की व-लेकिन बुरी तरह

ने ताब हिज्र में है न आराम वस्ल में

कम-बख़्त दिल को चैन नहीं है किसी तरह

लगती हैं गालियाँ भी तेरे मुँह से क्या भली

क़ुर्बान तेरे फिर मुझे कह ले उसी तरह

पामाल हम न होते फ़क़त जौर-ए-चर्ख़ से

आई हमारी जान पे आफ़त कई तरह

ने जाए वाँ बने है न बिन जाए चैन है

क्या कीजिए हमें तो है मुश्किल सभी तरह

मा’शूक़ और भी हैं बता दे जहान में

करता है कौन ज़ुल्म किसी पर तेरी तरह

हूँ जाँ-ब-लब बुतान-ए-सितमगर के हाथ से

क्या सब जहाँ में जीते हैं ‘मोमिन’ इसी तरह

A humble attempt to transliterate this amazing creation might make it easier for some to understand if they aren’t proficient in the language used. Please feel free to correct me if you have a different take.

You will end up weeping for hours too, in this very way

if your heart, like mine, is entangled in this way

she is not ensnared by any tactic or trick I pursue

there is no way I can meet her whatever I may do

for my dearest one how do I find a simile

her manner is unique and fresh as no one else can be

Shall I go die somewhere to get free from the unbearable pain of separation,

she means well although she talks in a hurtful way

There is no peace in separation, nor bliss in meeting her,

this hapless heart is restless, no matter whatever I do,

even your abuse sounds sweet to my ears, its true

keep on in this tone and I will gladly sacrifice myself for you

I would not be trampled only by heaven’s forces,

my very life has undergone so many kinds of painful experiences,

I can neither go where (my lover is), nor can I stay away

I am clueless as I am constrained in each and every way

I am sure there will be other lovers in this world, too

But tell me is there anyone as brutal as you?

My life hangs on a thin edge due to this idol’s cruelty

Do everybody in this world, “momin” have to live like me?

One more rendition of this divine song would not be out of place, I trust: Listen to this version from a concert. That’s where these guys really bloom and come into their own, free of time limits.

The tabalchi is the legendary Ustad Abdul Sattar “Tari” Khan who frequently accompanies the best of ghazal singers.

Stay safe, folks, stay healthy and happy. I hope you will join me in 2 hours’ time at 11.20 am for my 25th Anniversary program on AIR Delhi FM Gold, where I will talk about a maestro and one of my most favourite artistes