It was a whiff of fresh air as contestants rendered Mehdi Hassan, Hariharan, and Farida Khanum with élan.
If cheering for the Pakistan cricket team can get one of you charged with sedition, what about singing compositions by Pakistani artistes? The participants for the ghazal competition at the Kerala University Youth Festival might not have thought about such fallouts while selecting that one favourite song to perform at the festival.
Most of them chose to sing ghazal classics by Pakistani legends ranging from Mehdi Hassan to Farida Khanum, as the audience who gathered inside a small hall at the Government Women’s College cheered on, unmindful of whether the melody originated from beyond the borders.
The girls’ ghazal competition, which had ten participants, maintained high standards throughout, something which cannot be said about most other competitions at the festival. The participants were free to have accompaniments on Tabla and Harmonium, but two of them decided to win over the audience with just their voice, one of them sang even without the help of a ‘sruthi’ box.
Those who sang with the accompaniments seemed to have a bit of an unfair advantage over the others. It seemed to make them throw their voice out, to be heard above the instruments, while there was a touch of lightness to those who sang without any instruments.
The winner, M.G. Arya of VTM NSS College, Dhanuvachapuram, who also won the light music competition, sang the Urdu Shayari ‘Dayam Pada Hua’ written by Mirza Ghalib, which was later immortalised through the voices of Mehdi Hassan and Hariharan. Another favourite among the participants was Mehdi Hassan’s all-time classic ‘Ranjish Hi Sahi,’ a lover’s call for his beloved to come back. One of the participants also sang another of his classics, ‘Yeh Log Bhi Kya Log Hai.’
‘Kaash,’ Hariharan’s popular ghazal album, seemed to be another favourite with the students. The title song as well as ‘Jhoom Le’ was performed during the competition. Farida Khanum’s evergreen ‘Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo,’ which was later sung by a number of artistes was also rendered, without any accompaniments.
Technology, not something which one associates with ghazals, was an unexpected visitor at the competition venue on Saturday. One of the participants’ ‘sruthi’ box failed to switch on as she plugged it in on stage. Without losing heart, she calmly flipped out her smart phone and switched on the ‘sruthi box’ app and went on to render a classic ghazal piece.