Ghazal Bahaar


By ASJAD NAZIR

GHAZAL is an artistic genre that has been entertaining audiences for centuries with a timeless combination of classical music, poetic lyrics and heaven-sent voices. Next month a three-city tour of the UK will see five world-class singers come together to take audiences through different eras of the golden genre from pioneers like Begum Akhtar to modern-day masters.

Anup Jalota, Ashok Khosla, Jaspinder Narula, Radhika Chopra and Jazim Sharma in the company of top musicians will pay tribute to the greats with unforgettable classics at the Ghazal Bahaar shows. Eastern Eye caught up with the five fabulous singers to talk about music, ghazals, the art of performing live and more.

Jaspinder Narula

How do you reflect upon your musical journey?

Jaspinder Narula

Absolutely enchanting, with no regrets, by the grace of God. And I am thankful to him for what he has blessed me with and whatever I have achieved so far. But of course my best is yet to come and there will be much more in the near future.

What first connected you to ghazal music?

I don’t know. It just happened to me naturally. I am also surprised that it was ghazal singing that I got hooked to before all other forms of music. As far as I can remember, it was the likes of Mehdi Hasan, Noor Jehan etc. who I used to enjoy listening to the most and of course the contemporary ghazal stalwarts like Jagjit Singh, Ghulam Ali were already a rage in India by that time.

What is your own personal favourite ghazal?

There are so many of them. It’s very difficult to make a choice and I may sound biased. But yes with due regards to all ghazal singers there are a few that keep haunting my mind more often. A few due to their beautiful lyrics and others because of their catchy compositions like Ranjish Hi Sahi, Mohabbat Karne Wale, Gulon Me Rang Bhare, Mujhse Pehli Si Mohabbat, Aashiyane Ki Baat, Jo Na Mil Saka, Niyate Shauq and so many more.

Who is your favourite ghazal singer of all time?

For me ghazal rendition is a very special way of singing and hence not everyone’s cup of tea. It has to be rendered very artistically and sorry to say not many singers could do justice to it. So with my due regards to everyone as I fully respect their art and the artist within them, but my request to new upcoming singers would be to take proper training before venturing into ghazals. As far as my favourite is concerned I think Mehdi (Hasan) saab was the best singer we could have as far as rendition of ghazals is concerned. But having said that I do like other singers like Begum Akhtar, Noor Jehan, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Jagjit Singh, Ghulam Ali among others.

What has been your favourite show of those you have done?

There are many of my shows in more than 40 years of my professional career that are still close to my heart today. Their memory is as fresh in my heart and mind as if it were yesterday. One of them is a very recent one at Hotel Sheraton, London on a special day as it happened to be my birthday. Other memorable ones include those I had at Burdawan, Kolkata, at Ahmedabad, Gujarat and of course the Ghazal Bahaar show in Mumbai.

What can we expect from you at the Ghazal Bahaar shows in UK?

A lot of new stuff with a sprinkling of some of my old favourites and hits. Of course the rest would be as per the flow, my mood and of course my audience’s requests. But one thing is for sure, it’s been quite a while since I have performed a ghazal show, which as I have earlier said, is very close to my heart. Ghazal singing has always been my first love, so I am going to enjoy it the most. And you can imagine that if I will enjoy it then my audience will definitely be enjoying it with me.

Why do you love ghazal music?

It connects you effortlessly to your inner world. It flows as simple as a river, soothing and refreshing. It’s full of romance, adds wings to your imagination, relates to your good old memories and enables you to visualise dreams. That’s why ghazals are close to my heart.

Jazim Sharma

Jazim Sharma

How do you reflect on your musical journey?

It’s not yet time to look back, but yes it has been a really beautiful journey so far and I’m still building myself. Ghazals have given me a lot.

What first connected you to ghazal music?

My Guruji Ustaad Vijay Sachdeva Ji connected me to ghazals. It was a genre I found very soulful and heart touching from day one.

What is your own personal favourite ghazal?

My favourites are many, but I would say Faasle Aise Bhi Honge by Ghulam Ali Ji because it helped me pass my first audition in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa.

Who is your favourite ghazal singer?

My all-time favourite is Ustad Ghulam Ali Ji as my Guruji also use to sing his ghazals. I learned a lot from Ghulam Ali Ji and his style. I like him more because he plays harmonium like a god. I love to play harmonium too.

What does performing live mean to you?

I just love to sing live because it enables me to improvise and put a brand new spin on a composition. I love doing experiments, which gives me great ideas when I sing live. I also love the instant reaction from an audience.

What can we expect at the Ghazal Bahaar show?

Thank you very much for inviting me to the UK. I will try to make this the best ghazal concert in the UK and want to get blessings from all of you.

Why do you love ghazal music?

Ghazal is a totally different style and its audience is very elegant. It needs a lot of practice everyday and there are no shortcuts for this style. You have to work hard for it to be able to make a place in people’s hearts.

Anup Jalota

Anup Jalota

How do you reflect on your musical journey?

It has been like a dream. I never imagined I would be what I am today.

What first connected you to ghazal music?

It was a ghazal sung by Begum Akhtar titled Aye Mohabbat Tere Anjaam Pe Rona Aaya.

What is your favourite ghazal?

It is Hazaron Khwahishein Aisi Ke Har Khwahish Pe Dum Nikle because of its beautiful poetry.

Who is your favourite ghazal singer of all time?

(Smiles) Ashok Khosla, Jazim Sharma, Radhika Chopra and Jaspinder Narula.

What has been your favourite show of those you have done?

It would have to be the Ghazal Bahaar show in Mumbai last year.

What can we expect from you at the UK Ghazal Bahaar shows?

You can expect to hear plenty of great ghazals.

Why do you love ghazal music?

Because it talks about love.

Ashok Khosla

Ashok Khosla

How do you reflect upon your musical journey?

As I look back today, I feel my journey has been very interesting indeed. I started singing in childhood and remember singing in concerts right from my school days. The response and adulation from the audience at that early age encouraged me and motivated me to pursue music to greater levels.

What first connected you to ghazal music?

I was introduced to the amazing world of ghazal during my childhood. My father used to listen to legends like Begum Akhtar sahiba and KL Saigal saab. This influenced me tremendously. Then as I listened to stalwarts like Mehdi Hasan saab from across the border I felt a strong connect with this genre of music, and fell in love with ghazal.

What is your personal favourite ghazal?

My own personal favourite ghazal is Ajnabi sheher ke ajnabi raaste, meri tanhaiyon par muskurate rahe, main bahot der tak yuhi chalta raha, tum bahut der tak yaad aate rahe. This was an amazing combination of a great composition and excellent lyrics. This was my debut ghazal, which introduced me to the great world of this genre.

Who is your favourite ghazal singer of all time?

Two great ghazal singers who struck a chord in my heart have always been Begum Akhtar sahiba and Shri Jagjit Singh Ji. I simply love their rendition of ghazal with so much emotion, romance, purity and simplicity. They sang with so much love straight from their hearts.

How do you feel about performing live?

Live performance has given me many wonderful memories that I will always cherish. One of my fondest is of the time that I sang at a concert named, Mera Geet Amar Kar Do. I sang all ghazals of the legend Shri Jagjit Singh ji. I am always thankful for such love and appreciation I have received from the audience.

What can we expect from you at the Ghazal Bahaar show?

Like always, I want to give my best and have in the past received an amazing response from the UK. I am going to sing my favourite ghazals and look forward to connecting with the absolutely wonderful audience in the UK.

What is it that you love about ghazal music?

Ghazals are very special because of their exceptionally high poetry content. Highly meaningful lyrics form an integral part of ghazals. They add important weight to the song and take it to a great level.

Dr Radhika Chopra

Radhika Chopra

How do you reflect upon your musical journey?

I grew up in a small town called Jammu and was first introduced to music by my parents, who were absolutely passionate about it, but unfortunately never got the opportunity to learn. Perhaps they wanted to live their dream through me and took me to a music academy at the young age of eight.

What first connected you to ghazal music?

As far as my interest in the ghazal genre is concerned, I give full credit to my father for it, who was well versed with Urdu language and would often recite (poets) Ghalib and Mir. He imbibed the love for Urdu poetry in my mind at a tender age and I can’t thank him enough for that.

Who is your favourite ghazal singer of all time?

I grew up listening to Begum Akhtar, KL Saigal and Mehdi Hasan. They all left a deep impact on my mind and when I decided to take up ghazal singing as a profession, their influence was inevitable and could be easily felt in my singing style. Of course at a later stage I was completely bowled over by Jagjit Singh’s style of vocal delivery and it too had a lasting impression on me.

How do you feel about performing live?

I have always been a people person. I love meeting people from all walks of life and interacting with them, sharing my thoughts, nuances of ghazal singing, experiences and interesting anecdotes. I always wanted to be a stage artist and God was kind enough to make me one.

What can we expect from you at the show?

In today’s time the old traditional style of ghazal is fading away, but I am trying my best to keep it alive and would love to sing a few old traditional ghazals in these shows as well along with a few masterpieces by the great Madan Mohan, Khaiyam and Roshan, who introduced ghazal in Hindi films and gave us some evergreen numbers. I am really looking forward to this upcoming UK tour with my fellow artists and sincerely wish that everyone who attends these concerts goes back with a happy heart and a lifelong memory.

Ghazal Bahaar with Jaspinder Narula, Jazim Sharma, Anup Jalota, Ashok Khosla and Radhika Chopra will be staged at De Montfort Hall in Leicester on July 7, 02 Apollo in Manchester on July 8 and Indigo at 02 in London on July 9.

Visit www.rockonmusicuk.com to find out more.