THE first brilliant album of 2023 has been the recently released masterpiece Ghazals &Thumris From The Musical Heart of Budapest.
Leading Indian artists have collaborated with the incredible Budapest Symphony Orchestra (BSO) for the cool collection of ghazals and thumris recorded live. This is the third South Asian led album featuring the amazing orchestra and Pratibha Singh Baghel has taken centrestage by singing nine of the 11 songs on the album.
The other two tracks have been sung by Kavya Limaye, on a collection of songs featuring musicians at the top of their game.
Eastern Eye caught up the versatile vocal talent to discuss the highly rated new album, greatness of ghazals, inspirations and the art of injecting emotion into songs.
How does this new album compare to other projects you have done?
This project is very different from others I’ve done because it’s absolutely played and sung live, just how we do at concerts. Yet, we never knew that it would turn out in such a grand manner. We prepared for it, and just went through the songs in one take. So, it’s extremely special because it was absolutely live.
What was it like being accompanied by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra and master guest musicians from India?
It was like a dream come true because this was my third time collaborating with them, thanks to the Sufiscore record label. I had the privilege of collaborating with the BSO on the albums Bole Naina – Silences Speak (2021) and Inheritance (2022). Both of them, like new album Ghazals & Thumris From The Musical Heart Of Budapest were produced by Deepak Pandit. This is the first album that we could record live, whereas the others were done online because of lockdown. So, this time it was really special.
Tell us about that?
We went to Budapest and recorded the songs absolutely live. We had the privilege to have some of the very best musicians from India, starting with violin master Deepak Pandit, who arranged and produced this whole album. The album also features flautist Paras Nath, pianist Santosh Mulekar, hand and sonic percussionist Swaranjay Dhumal, tabla master Prashant Sonagra and keyboardist Gaurav Vaswani. And very talented singer Kavya Limaye. These are some of India’s leading musicians, so it was an honour to share the music with them.
What do you most love about ghazal music?
I was introduced to ghazals when I was three years-old, so connected with them from a very young age. My father used to sing ghazals. That is how I developed this interest in ghazals and thumris. I love them because ghazals are poetry-based and about feelings and conveying things. I think that is the most important part of ghazals, where you convey the poetry, and emotions. I think that is why I connect with ghazals so much.
Who is your own favourite ghazal singer?
I have so many favourites in ghazals, but if I had to take one or two names then it would definitely be Ustad Mehdi Hassan Khan Sahab and Madhu Rani ji, both of whom I really look up to.
How did you generate so much feeling in each song?
It is really difficult to answer this question because you cannot generate feeling, you have to feel it. I think when I get into any kind of music, song, or poetry it suddenly just gets into my head and I feel every word I sing. I feel it, with full conviction.
What is your favourite song on the new album?
My favourite song on this album has to be Kabhi Kissi Ko Muqammal. If you look at the melody and poetry, they might seem very simple, but they are extremely deep. It kind of tells you reality. When I was singing Kabhi Kissi Ko Muqammal I actually went to that deep zone, where I felt every single word and related to it so much. The poetry and melody hit you really hard, when you feel it. That is why it is my favourite song of this album.
What inspires you as a singer?
For me, I think dedication, passion and discipline are what inspire me the most as a singer. I always get inspired by people who are dedicated, passionate towards their music, and disciplined. I think these things inspire me.
Why should we pick up the new album?
You should definitely pick up this album because it has a variety of music. We have popular ghazals which are already known to you, and some of them you might have not heard. But we assure you that when you hear them, you will definitely want to hear them again and again. We have also merged the music with a western orchestra in a very interesting way. It is absolutely live and very experimental. I think if you give it a listen, you will definitely like it.
It was all smooth sailing for big Bollywood release Shehzada until 11 days before it was due to be released on Friday (10). First it emerged that a Hindi dubbed version of 2020 Telugu blockbuster Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, which Shehzada is a remake of, would be available for free on YouTube and Facebook. Then the blockbuster success of Pathaan meant the movie headlined by Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon was postponed by a week to next Friday (17). Now what was seen as a sure-fire box-office hit is on shaky ground.
SIMONE DESIGN CONTEST SEEMS A FOOLISH ERROR
WHETHER it has been her winning performance in Bridgerton, speaking up against colourism
or becoming a symbol of girl power, Simone Ashley has taken great strides in the past 12 months, but her latest step looks a little foolish. She has launched a competition with a leading alcohol brand, to get British Asians to create a limited-edition whiskey bottle design. What seems to have been dressed up as a venture to empower young creative talent, just looks like a cynical ploy to promote an alcohol brand. It is also a problematic idea, to say the
least, because it will exclude sections of the Asian community like Muslims, and kind of glorifies alcohol to younger people.
ACTION JACKSON MAKES TAMIL CINEMA RETURN
AFTER a failed attempt at cracking Hollywood in a meaningful way and troubles in her personal life, British actress Amy Jackson is returning to the industry that turned her into a star with a lead role in Tamil film Acham Enbathu Illayae. She has teamed up with AL Vijay, who had directed her 2010 debut film Madrasapattinam for the project. Her social media posts announcing the collaboration got off to a shaky start when she said her Indian cinema comeback’s title was The Jailer, which is in fact a forthcoming Tamil action comedy headlined by super star actor Rajinikanth, she is not a part of. Her action thriller is due for release later this year and will likely lead to more Indian film work for the British beauty.
ZAYN PINS HOPES ON UTA
POP star Zayn Malik recently signed up to Hollywood agency UTA to represent him across music, film, and television. It has been previously reported that the British singer/songwriter doesn’t listen to advice, and this has largely contributed to his downfall, so UTA may struggle to resurrect his ailing career. Also, UTA aren’t the force they once were and have failed previously with certain stars. Back in 2016, Sonam Kapoor had signed with the same agency to explore Hollywood opportunities, but it didn’t do her any good. Zayn is currently working on his fourth studio album.
ANISTON STAMP ON INDIAN STYLE
EVERYONE celebrated the eye-catching lehenga Jennifer Aniston wore in the newly released trailer of Netflix movie sequel Murder Mystery 2. What no one spoke about was just how much of an impact her wearing that Manish Malhotra designed outfit will have. The A-list Hollywood actress has been a style icon since the beginning of her career, so will influence a lot of people to take an interest in traditional Indian wear. Unfortunately, for her co-star Adam Sandler, no one really spoke about the rubbish sherwani he was wearing in the same scene.
HINDI COMEDY KING RETURNS
INDIAN funny man Zakir Khan is arguably the finest Hindi language stand-up comedian globally and regularly plays sold out shows internationally. The terrific talent has broken new ground for Hindi language comedy and blazed a trail for so many to follow in his foot steps. That is why it’s great news that he will be returning to the UK for performances at Soho Theatre in central London from March 20-25. Tickets are on sale now at www.sohotheatre.com
ABYSMAL ADITYA IS NOT HERO MATERIAL
I AM GETTING Aditya Roy Kapur fatigue and tired of correctly predicting that a movie headlined by him will be a box-office disaster. I’m exhausted of trying to figure out why the Bollywood flop star keeps getting signed for projects, including his next film Gumraah. The crime thriller, due to be released on April 7, will inevitably add to his many film failures and confirm the wooden actor as one of this generation’s worst leading men.
He will also be making his web series debut with an Indian version of hit British drama The Night Manager on Hotstar this month, and likely show that he can fail on streaming sites too.
INSPIRING ON INSTAGRAM
INTERESTING Instagram account @whatmotivatedyou is worth following if you want to be inspired. Canada-based Hamza Aziz, who works as a nurse himself, interviews hard-working immigrants. This includes an Indian working as an Uber driver who dreams of becoming a rapper, and so many simple stories from people of different backgrounds that immediately strike a chord, in the bite-sized videos.
Talented British singer Ajay Srivastav has released his new song Further Up the Road, which is well worth finding.
Acclaimed Pakistani singer Ahmed Jahanzeb will deliver a performance at Royal Nawaab restaurant in London next Sunday (19). The concert included a three-course meal.
Look out next week for a special on classic Guru Dutt masterpiece movie Pyaasa (1957).
Popular Pakistani pop star Asim Azhar will deliver his debut UK tour in April, with concerts at The Plaza in Stockport (28) and Alexandra Palace in London (29). Tickets are available on www.eventbrite.co.uk
Actress Mahira Khan will reportedly star in a Pakistani remake of classic Bollywood 1972 film Pakeezah. It would be a huge mistake on her part if the news is true because the original is too iconic to be remade.
Pathaan has become one of the highest grossing Bollywood films at the UK box office of all time