I have been listening these past days with renewed interest to ghazals by Pakistani poet Farhat Shahzad. I came across him first some 15 years ago with an album called Kehna Usey. Mehdi Hassan had unusually sung an entire album incorporating the work of one poet – that is very well of course if you like the poet, but tedious if you don’t. Kehna Usey grew on me — the tone was vibrant, full of imperatives, exhortations, verbs.
Then Mehdi Hassan came out with another double volume called Sada-e-Ishq – all ghazals by Shahzad. It was promoted heavily when it was released: the master couldn’t tour but Hariharan did in his stead (it was a superlative concert!) and I met also the young poet. Farhat was a bit of a surprise. His poetry is melancholic, even relentlessly self-pitying, but the man had a twinkle in his eye, and laughter rose readily. He wore jeans and a sleeveless T-shirt, spoke excellent Urdu with an American twang and told me he was a software professional.
But somehow I never listened to Sada-e-Ishq very much. I thought Mehdi Hassan’s voice quavered more than I liked and I thrust it away. Perhaps the music company thought so too – for I’ve stumbled on a double volume, Do Dil, Do Raahein (Vol 1, Vol 2) with cover versions of all these ghazals by various singers. Rather interesting because I haven’t heard Pankaj Udhas sound like this, and fun to hear Hariharan, Anup Jalota, Kamran Hassan and Abida Parveen pay tribute to Mehdi Hassan.
Shahzad uses metres of varying lengths, but he quite excels with the short beher. See this, which is haunting me:
ख्वाब जुदा रंग भरना और
कहना और है, करना और
And then, he says
सेहरा का दुःख समझे कौन
होना और गुज़रना और
Incidentally, my sister’s blog takes its title from this sher by this poet:
मस्लेहत छीन गई कुव'वत-ऐ-गुफ्तार मगर
कुछ न कहना ही मेरा मेरी सदा हो बैठा
And the title of this post is a nod to this sher:
सुनके वो शह्ज़ाद के अश’आर सर धुनका रहा
थाम कर हम दोनों हाथों से जिगर देखा किए