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Going gaga over Ghulam

RANJANI GOVIND

Ghulam Ali's recent performance in the city had the audience lapping it all up.



FIESTA FOR THE EARS: The singer enthrals. Photo: Shaju John.

When Classical and Ghazal maestro, Ghulam Ali, brought in the lines `Hum Tere Sheher Mein Aaye Hai Musafir Banke, (`I have come to your city as a traveller') at Kamaraj Arangam this past weekend, there was a loud cheer from the audience. However at the end of the show, the Pakistani singer who enjoys the best of both classical and ghazal audience in India, was reminded: "You should come every year Ustaad, not as a traveller, but as a `Khaas Mehmaan' (special guest)."

The essence of his rich repertoire lies in the potent combination he provides — undiluted Hindustani classical moments, ghazal for lighter tastes and chaste Urdu couplets for `Sher aur Shayari' enthusiasts. While the beginning of any Ghulam Ali concert sounds seriously classical-driven with raag alaaps and swar-delineations as this one did too, one is treated to the variety and assortment from the ace musician as one gets along in the three-hour concert. The mixed bag had the choicest accompaniments — Soumen Sarkar (tabla), Arshad Ahmed (guitar), harmonium (Raju Das), K. Srinivasan (flute) and Abrar Ahmed (santoor) — with the Ustaad singing praises of the Asians who are talented enough to adapt the western guitar with deftness to suit our music.

A short melody of swar-scales in Mishra Behaag for a Dadra opened the curtains to a much-publicised show. Then came a long spell of the raag with enjoyable touches from the guitar and flute for `Mai Lakhon Ke Bhol Sahe.'

Wonder lyrics

Salim Khausal's wonder bhol (lyrics) (`Mera Khayaal Kisi Aur Ka, Mujhe Sochta Koyi Aur Hai') stressed on the simplicity of weaving words for ghazals that lend themselves to melodic delineations. Here the interludes from the guitar and flute, as well as the rhythm were absolutely enjoyable.

Taking note of the requests from the Punjabis in the crowd and satisfying them with their desi geet, Ghulam saab only had to hum two lines of his well-known `Chupke Chupke Raat Din,' before the whistles and claps took over.

Every line, including the soft and spongy variations given to the two words `Chupke Chupke,' was lapped up.

He presented at least 18 versions of the line `Dil Me Ek Lehar Si Uti Hai' and demonstrated how all swars can be brought in a single line — accommodating the 12 - Sa Re Re Ga, Ga Ma Ma Pa, Pa Da Da Ni — a stamp of his guru Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Even with time ticking away, nobody was in a mood to leave the hall without listening to the maestro's hit `Hungama Hai' in raag Darbaari.

Organised by the Rotary Club of Madras, in association with ITC and Airtel, the proceeds of the concert will go towards various community service projects of the Rotary Club — tsunami relief works and polio rehabilitation.

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