These past days, as I walk back from work, I’ve been slipping on headphones and tuning into FM Rainbow. Every evening they have an hour of ghazals. The selections vary with the presenter—some talk sensibly, some are outright mawkish but I’m quite happy to have found this.
Radio, of course, is an old friend, one I go back to with great relief. And as for the ghazal, with one thing and the other, it had been a while since I sought one out. But here it was, and old habits, once one overcomes the bewildering blend of newness and familiarity, are easy to slip into.
ग़ज़लों ने वहीँ जुल्फ के फैलादिये साए
जिन राहों पे देखा कि बोहुत धूप कड़ी है |
Many years ago, Hyderabad B had a half hour programme on Friday afternoons, where they would invite a guest to present their selection of ghazals. My classmate Rachna was once invited to present it and allowed me, if I remember it correctly, to influence her selection a little.
Such a chance never came my way but what’s to stop me posting my version of things? So here is roughly a half-hour’s worth.
The first ghazal, chosen more for content than overall worth. Hariharan from Gulfam
आ चांदनी भी मेरी तरह
Then the King, because I must. This song, because I must. The first ghazal I ever heard by him. It was my first tape recorder. I wasn’t sure what kind of music I liked, so I tried a bit of everything. I went out and bought six tapes, one of which was Mehdi Hassan: The Finest Ghazals. It was a life-altering choice. I remember even now, with cellophane wrappers from the tapes strewn all around me, sitting entranced at this voice, of the possibilities of this new world.
रंजिश ही सही
This ghazal by Jagjit Singh had somehow slipped under my radar for too long. But several years ago, I was in Delhi to visit Shweta. On New Year’s Eve, one of her friends, a musician of some repute now, sat down with a guitar to sing for us. Slowly, lingeringly, he plucked out this one.
तुम नहीं ग़म नहीं
Musical arrangements for most ghazals are fairly basic. When they perform live, most musicians sing to minimal accompaniments that support but don’t aim for anything more ambitious. Even studio recordings are blah for the most part. I find the harmonium work in this ghazal very exciting.
अजनबी है न हम पराये हैं
And because I can squeeze in another short one, this one by Ghulam Ali. Rent into shreds, the very fabric of life; again, the healers have abandoned us, left us, gone away... I find the desolate imagery very striking.
वक्त के सोग में लम्हों का जुलूस
जैसे इक काफिला-ऐ-नौहागराँ
A long line of moments lamenting the passing of time
Like a procession of funereal mourners
Para para hua
That's all, folks!