That’s all a Ghazal is about

By Avantika Seth

Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho, kya gam hai jisko chupa rahe ho?
Awestruck?
I’m sure.

Jagjit Singh does this to me every time. The melancholy and rhythm is the basic essence of any Ghazal. With deep structured lyrics, a ghazal has the capacity to captivate your mind and numb your soul. Ranging from the famous ‘tum itna jo muskura rahe ho’ to ‘ye kagaz ki kashti’, a Ghazal aims at striking your memories and imagination. Being a great listener of ghazals, I write this article to bring to your notice all the essentials you need to know about this type of music.

Jagjit_Singh_performing_at_Symphony_Hall,_Birmingham,_12_September_2008A glass of wine, dim lights and a wintry evening seems to be the perfect environment for you to enjoy a ghazal. It’s not about the so called ‘mai aur meri tanhayi’ thing, but it’s more about introspection of the unrequited love. It may be understood as a poetic expression of pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. With the style and content it is a genre that has proved capable of an extraordinary variety of expression around its central themes of love and separation. A ghazal forces your mind to feel the agony and still imagine the beauty of the existence of love. It is basically a beautified poetic version of a lot of feelings described by its lyrics.

It came to India with the advent and extension of Muslim advent from the twelfth century onwards. It is a short poem of more than a dozen couplets in the same metre. Ghazal or “Gayaki”, the art of singing or performing the ghazal in Indian classical tradition, is very old. Singers like Ustad Barkat Ali and many other singers in the past used to practice it, but due to the lack of historical records, many names have been anonymous. It was with Begum Akhtar and then Mehdi Hassan, that classical rendering of ghazals became popular amongst the masses. The categorization of ghazal singing as a form of ‘light classical’ music is a misconception. Classical ghazals are difficult to render because of the varying moods of the “shers” or couplets in the ghazal. Ustad Amanat Ali Khan, Begum Akhtar, Mehdi Hassan, Jagjit Singh, Farida Khanum and Ustad Ghulam Ali, Moinuddin Ahamed, are popular classical ghazal singers.

ghazal1Singers like Jagjit Singh and Pankaj Udas have given ghazals a new form by incorporating elements of western music. Jagjit Singh encompassed playback singing in the films such as ‘Arth’, ‘Saath Saath’ and ‘Premgeet’ brought him to the forefront. He also composed songs for the TV serial, Mirza Galib , that has been based on life of Mirza Galib.  With the success in the film industry he started to be known as ‘The Galib King.’

Being an avid listener of ghazals, I’ve found immense attachment and depth in its lyrics. Unlike the typical Bollywood music, a ghazal has a sense of emotional force that makes you feel the depth and pain of a relationship. They say you need to actually feel the pain if you want to express it. Right after the death of Jagjit Singh’s eighteen year old son in a road accident, started the advent of his career. There was a lot of agony rightly felt after listening to his ghazals. The way its lyrics hit, are capable enough to make your emotions stir and with itself take you to another world. Ghazals like, ‘Jhuki jhuki si nazar’ have been an all-time favourite!

So, if you’re not really into ghazals but prefer soft music then my sheer advice to you would be an immediate attention towards some ghazals. It’ll make you feel what you’ve wanted to feel since a lot of time. An attachment, some melancholy, pure music and the joy of loving and being loved!

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