The nip in the air did not deter them nor did the festive weekend kept them away. As the night grew colder, the admirers of poetry kept coming in droves.

Of course Khan Athar, Hyderabad’s well-known singer, was there to keep everyone warm. The musical concert organised on Friday night to mark the135th birth anniversary of Urdu’s greatest poet, Allamma Iqbal, was a big hit.

A pleasant surprise was the presence of a large number of women and youth, indicating the enduring appeal of Iqbal across generations.

Sceptics proved wrong

Many in the audience, including the Siasat Editor, Zahid Ali Khan, was sceptical whether Iqbal’s verses could be sung given the philosophical content and classical genre of his poetry.

But Khan Athar proved everyone wrong when he rendered not just the popular but difficult to comprehend ghazals with ease. He cast a spell with the thought-provoking nazm:

Ye naghma fasle gul-o-lala ka nahin paband

Bahar ho ke khazan la illaha illallah

(These melodious songs are not confined to time when rose and tulip bloom

Whatever the season of year be ‘No God but He’ must ring till doom)

Thereafter, he switched over to the more racy ghazal

Agar kajro main anjum aasman tera hai ya mera

Mujhe fikre jahan kyon ho, jahan tera hai ya mera

The soulful rendition by Khan Athar made all the difference. Even those who failed to comprehend the ‘shayre Mashriq’ fully had a whale of a time.

Special appeal

Another budding singer, Viqar Ahmed, too regaled the audience with foot-tapping ghazals, rubaiyat and nazm. His rendition of this ghazal drew a lot of applause.

Jinhen main dhoondta tha aasmanon main zameenon main

Wo nikle mere zulmate khana dilke makinon main

(The one I was searching for on the earth and in heaven

Appeared residing in the recesses of my own heart)

Mahine wasl ke ghadiyon ki soorat udte jate hain

Magar ghadiyan judai ki guzerti hain mahinon mein

(The months of union continue flying like moments

But the moments of separation linger for months)

Iqbal had Hyderabadi connections too having penned the famous poem “Gorastan-e-Shahi” at Quli Qutb Shahi tombs. Also it was in Hyderabad that the first ‘Iqbal Day’ was observed in January 7, 1938.

Perhaps this is another reason why his work has a special appeal for people here. Of course the patriotic song ‘Saare Jahan se …’ enraptured everyone, lifting the spirits.

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