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Evening of melodies

Shaam-e-ghazal and shaam-e-geet are part of the cultural fabric of Hyderabad. Be it a Manhar Udhas who sang at Aalankrita recently, or Vittal Rao, Jagjit Singh, Talat Aziz or Pankaj Udhas, the ghazal concerts are appreciated by connoisseurs and commoners alike.

Manhar Udhas.

WHEN MANHAR Udhas sang the ghazal Tu is tarah meri zindagi mein... in the expansive ethnic surroundings of `Aalankrita' recently he was just reinforcing the ghazal tradition of this 400-year-old city. A city created by Quli Qutub Shah where the ghazal heritage is as famous as the Charminar. Manhar's renditions to celebrate the festival of colours which began with the moon well over the night sky was appreciated by the audience as much as they enjoyed the delicious Jain repast served to them.

This evening of ghazals and geet at the `heritage resort' tucked away from the city at Thumkunta village was a getaway for the urban dweller not just from the heat but also from the hustle-bustle. Under the canopy of the night sky in the lush lawns surrounded by ethnic structures, the concert surely reminded one of those held in yesteryears in the palaces and mansions of the Nizam and aristocracy. Hyderabad was one of the four courts of the country besides Delhi, Lucknow and Rampur where the rulers patronised Urdu. It acted as a magnet to attract poets from the above-mentioned places and other parts of the country.

With the presence of the literary figures there developed genres of Urdu literature like ghazal and nazm. Quli Qutub Shah was the first Urdu poet to have an anthology published. He has to his credit about 100,000 lines of poetry which includes a good number of ghazals and nazms. The seasons, topography, climate and the beauty of the city is brought out in these couplets.

The efflorescence of Urdu poetry took place in the land of nawabs. There were some poets who recited ghazals, while some sang them. Ghazal singing in this historical city can be traced back roughly to the 18th century. Over the years the shaam-e-ghazal concept went beyond the corridors of the palaces and mansions to public places. Either ghazals were sung in auditoriums where the cognoscenti and the commoner were enthralled or were sung in private mehfils (at times after dinner) stretching well past midnight.

So while we have our own Vittal Rao, Mughni or the upcoming Sharad Gupta rendering these love couplets on the one side, the city has played host to eminent names like Jagjit Singh, Pankaj Udhas, Talat Aziz, Anup Jalota to name a few. These celebrities continue to frequent the twin cities off and on and their recitals are often well received by a jam-packed audience thirsting to listen.

So when Manhar sang Gujarati ghazals much to the surprise of quite a few one enjoyed them realising the richness of the tradition despite the variations in language. But one was disappointed at the very few renditions of this genre in an event which was called `ghazal and geet nite'.

In fact, it turned out to be more a `geet nite' considering the number of film songs crooned by Manhar (from his films like Vishwas, Qurbani and Abhimaan besides numbers of Mukesh and others) and Sujata Trivedi (the playback singer of Taal and Takshak). What was heartening was Holi ki shaam Manhar Udhas ki naam was held for a charitable cause - for the benefit of the physically and mentally challenged by the Jain Social Group, Hyderabad.

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