Poetry Reading and thumri-dadra & ghazal performances completes the Begum Akhtar Centenary Commemoration Festival at Hyderabad

Under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and supported by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), NaadSaagar Archives & Documentation Society for South Asian Music has conceptualized & is implementing the Begum Akhtar Centenary Commemoration Project. The first festival as part of this Project is being held in collaboration with University of Hyderabad on 3 & 4 July 2015.

1 - Photograph by Vardhna Puri (2)

The first event on the second day (4th July 2015) was a poetry reading session led by Dr. Zahidul Haque, Assistant Professor, Department of Urdu, University of Hyderabad. He was assisted by Aamna Sehar who is a student of Law at Osmania University & Masroor Haideri, PhD scholar at the University of Hyderabad.

3 - Photograph by Vardhna Puri (2)

The poetry of Shakeel, Jigar and Faiz was recited to pay a tribute to poetic legacy of Begum Akhtar. The beautiful recitation of Faiz’s ghazal “Gulon mein rang bhare baad-e-nau bahaar chale…” struck a chord with the audiences after the previous day’s rendition of the same by Ustad Mohammed Ahmed Warsi Nasiri Qawwal & Group. These poets, close to Begum Akhtar’s heart, were contextualized to aid the understanding of audiences. Dr. Haque’s narration of the poets’ interpretation of the independence struggle was well received. The recitation focused on the nuances of Urdu poetry, creating a better understanding of the structure as well as emotion behind it.

4 - Photograph by Vardhna Puri (2)

Shakeel’s ghazal “Gham-e-ashiqui se keh do raah-e-aam tak na pahunche…” almost seemed to be in conversation with Faiz’s ghazal “Tum aaye ho na shab-e-intezar guzri hai…” by way of the poetic connections brought out by Dr. Haque. Jigar’s ghazal “Koi ye keh de gulshan gulshan…” evoked a lot of appreciation as well.

2 - Photograph by Vardhna Puri (2)

The reading was attended by Ms. Veena Joshi, Joint Secretary IGNCA, eminent art & music critic Shri S. Kalidas, thumri-dadra & ghazal exponent Smt. Shubha Joshi and others. At the end of the event, Joint Secretary IGNCA felicitated Dr. Haque, Masroor & Aamna in appreciation of their cause to further the recitative tradition of Urdu poetry.

1 - Photograph by Vardhna Puri

On the evening of the second day of the festival, the performances commenced with a ghazal recital by Shri Sudeep Bannerji, a student of Vidushi Shanti Hiranand and thus a part of the legacy of Begum Akhtar. He has composed for films as well and sung with various eminent singers in the Hindi film industry which has granted him a modern outlook in terms of interpretation of traditional repertoire. He began with a ghazal “Yeh ghazal ki anjuman hai…” to set the stage for the evening filled with Urdu poetry. He sang Nida Fazli’s ghazal “Jaisi jiski nazar hai…” and followed it up with Shakeel’s ghazal “Mere ham-nafas mere hamnawa…” He was ably accompanied on the Sarangi by Ustad Ghulam Sabir Khan, on the Tabla by Janab Nawab Ali Khan and on the Harmonium by Janab Salamat Ali Khan.

4 - Photograph by Vardhna Puri

This was followed by a thumri-dadra & ghazal recital by Vidushi Shanti Hiranand, the senior-most disciple of Begum Akhtar having spent over 20 years with the Mallika-e-Ghazal. She said that Begum Akhtar was fond of raga Mishra Tilang and commenced with a thumri “Ankhiyan neend na aaye…” Begum Akhtar had remarked a few months before her passing that, “…if ever people would like to hear her after her passing, they should listen to Shanti Hiranand!” The audience got a glimpse of Begum Akhtar’s style through Shanti ji when she sang Makhdoom’s ghazal “Sehar se raat ki sarghoshiyan…” Early recorded memories of Begum Akhtar were revived through the rendition of “Na socha na samjha, na seekha na jaana…” Qateel’s ghazal “Tum poochho aur main na bataun…” was peppered with the anecdote by how Begum Akhtar sang it in Hyderabad for over half an hour to a gathering full of people with moist eyes. The rendition of “Uzr aane mein bhi hai…” by Daagh Dehlvi evoked a lot of emotional reactions from the audience.

6 - Photograph by Vardhna Puri

Shanti ji concluded her recital with Shakeel Badayuni’s ghazal “Aye mohabbat tere anjaam pe rona aaya…” and told the audiences as to how it was composed aboard a train to Bombay! There couldn’t have been a more fitting finale to the two-day festival in the memory of Begum Akhtar who would have herself been pleased to have been remembered by so many fans over forty years after her demise.

-By Irfan Zuberi, Project Coordinator, IGNCA