Lucknow , UTTAR PRADESH :
It’s been an annual ritual for over 25 years. The first and last week of October have always had legendary ghazal and thumri singer Begum Akhtar spinning on my system. The doyenne was born on October 7, 1914, in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh and passed away on October 30, 1974, in Ahmedabad. So a few days before the dates, I have this Begum Aapa trip.
If there’s a voice that defined pathos, dard, deepness, gehraai, technique, taiyyari, she was definitely somewhere on top, globally. Check out her rendition of Shakeel Badayuni’s ‘Mere Humnafas Mere Humnava’ and the picture is absolutely clear.
Begum Akhtar fans are totally devoted to her singing, and I am no exception. Strangely enough, I hated her the first time I heard her. She didn’t let me sleep in peace. This was back in Jaipur, where I was a young rookie journalist. I was more into rock bands like Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd and Moody Blues, but my senior colleague and room-mate Abhay Kant hated my taste and insisted on playing Begum Akhtar late at night. It was torture, initially. But in a few weeks, I just got hooked on to Mir Taqi Mir’s ‘Ulti Ho Gayi Sab Tadbeerein’ and Momin Khan Momin’s ‘Woh Jo Hum Mein Tum Mein Qaraar Tha’. Honestly, I discovered the names of these poets much later.
Equations changed. Tull and Floyd were put on hold and I would listen to Akhtar even after Kant slept. By the time he left the following year for another job, I think he was sick of my listening to her. Yet, he took all his cassettes with him, leaving me bereft. For the next five years, her songs would only appear as earworms in the recesses of my mind. One day, at Rhythm House, Mumbai, I picked up a double compilation. The surprise was that many compositions were credited to the great Khayyam.
Some old favourites like Badayuni’s ‘Ae Mohabbat Tere Anjaam Pe Rona Aaya’ and Mirza Ghalib’s ‘Dil Hi Toh Hai Na Sang-o-Khisht’. But the real discovery was her rendition of Sudarshan Faakir on ‘Kuch Toh Duniya Ki Inaayaat Ne Dil Tod Diya’, ‘Ishq Mein Ghairat-e-Jazbaat Ne Rone Na Diya’ and ‘Apunon Ke Sitam Hamse Bataaye Nahin Jaate’.
And there was Faiz Ahmed Faiz on ‘Aaye Kucch Abr Kuchh Sharaab Aaye’ and ‘Donon Jahaan Teri Mohabbat Mein Haarke’. Besides ghazals, there was light classical repertoire like ‘Deewana Banaana Hai Toh’ and ‘Hamari Atariya. What timbre, texture, throw, tonality, totality.
Akhtar has always been special. She physically left us 43 years ago, but her music still rings in our ears and resounds in our hearts. Interestingly, there is another musician I get back to this month. The great music director S.D. Burman was born on Oct 1, 1906, and passed away on October 31, 1975. Next week’s column is dedicated to him.
PS: Thank you Abhay Kant for the Begum Akhtar introduction. Sorry about blasting the rock music.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Entertainment> Music / by Narendra Kusnur / October 25th, 2017