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Khushnuma... endless joys of ghazals

Well-known ghazal singer Talat Aziz wanted to be a top cricketer but fate willed it otherwise. Not that he has any regrets. RANA A. SIDDIQUI speaks to the talented singer...

Talat Aziz... from cricket to music. Photo: V. Ganesan.

NOT THAT ghazal listeners are tired of listening to Jagjit Singh but rushes on television announcing the arrival of famed ghazal singer Talat Aziz after two years with his new album have many waiting curiously for the cassette to come their way.

He has also composed the album and named it accordingly, "Khushnuma". It has eight ghazals penned by Nusrat Badr. So what's new? "I am really amazed when one asks about a ghazal album, `what's new'. What new can we give except some new ghazals and music?" But he adds in the same breath that the ghazals here promise good poetry yet in language simple and thought intense. It has soft, mellow tunes and captures the mood immediately.

Have you listened to the cassette?" he asks while saying that he himself has not got the cassette as yet! "I had prepared it in July 2002. It was to release September past year but music companies delayed it. I am getting calls from as far places as Gwalior from people who have seen the rushes on television but the cassette is not seen in the market though it was released 25 days back."

"You know what? These music companies come to me with lame excuses like there is connection problem between the company and distribution. They say they don't have money to arrange a press conference. They complain about piracy and hence a fall in prices. Without doing any running around, they want the golden gate to open for them and then they will arrange everything. How foolish! They give hundred excuses not to work. I feel like bashing them up and telling them `shut your music companies and start selling rice'. These guys are just goofing up. We put all our love and labour into one album and they just sit idle blaming the system."

And he is equally upset with music directors now. "What do good writers do? Now if a writer reaches them with good poetry, they praise it and then say `we don't want shayri, give something jazzy.' Now, what worse can we hear after abuses in the song? I witness it on day-to-day basis here."

His anger oozed out, he seems relaxed now. He has something to fall back on - his memories of past, his days of cricket and films. He was a cricketer. "I played at the State-level in 1973. I was a state and national level coach in Hyderabad. But could not carry on with the game as a player as I became a victim of politicisation. If I had not been a singer, I would definitely have been a player. Today also old coaches and players, specially Abid Ali call me up and we nostalgically share our cricket days". He still coaches boys in his building in Mumbai where he lives.

He is often seen on the small screen. However, his fans would love to see him on the silver screen too. "I worked in a film in 1990," he goes down memory lane. "It was Mahesh Bhatt's `Dhun' opposite Sangeeta Bijlani. The film never got released. I don't know why."

Why haven't women been able to make it to top in the ghazal world?

"Though we had Begum Akhtar who is still undisputed leader in the realm. I think the audience still like husky voice in a female ghazal singer, which we don't find now. Gaane ki tehzeeb and tamaddum bhi zaroori hai jo ab nahin milta."

How does he like the idea of a ghazal video? "It just popularises the album and the singer who were rarely flashed earlier but somewhere it also is proving to be counter productive for what they are showing even in ghazals are skimpily dressed, love-lorn guys and girls. That does not fit into the mood of a ghazal. Now it just depends upon who uses it and how."

Though he describes himself as a "laidback person", he is doing his bit for the cause of music. "I am building a forum for the cause of uniting musicians of different genre," he says.

And yes, he landed in the Capital quietly to give a private concert at Taj Mansingh Hotel and then went off to Meerut for the same. Goes without saying, he charmed the audience with his melodious rendition.

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