Poetry in the afternoon

A. Hariharan. Photo: R .Ravindran

A. Hariharan. Photo: R .Ravindran   | Photo Credit: R_RAVINDRAN

Ghazal, just when the night sets in, is sublime. The poet's word, somehow feels like it belongs to the night. In a telling contrast, when A. Hariharan's 'Shaam-e-Ghazal' was slotted for the afternoon, there was a sense of a lesser magic. The afternoon’s heat on its way out crept into the auditorium and made droopy eyes out of everybody. However, the resolute fans of Hariharan sat up in their seats and tried their best to grasp the essence of the poetry; of despair, longing and love being delivered in a language that they may not have understood entirely. But, evidently, what mattered was that it came to them in a voice they are definitely fond of.

Hariharan was the star attraction no doubt but he was accompanied by an equally fascinating set of artists on stage: Ustad Dilshad Khan on the sarangi, Akhlaq Hussain on the harmonium, Shadab Bhartiya on the tabla and Rajendra Valluri on the guitar. “Meri awaaz wahan tak pahunch rahi hai?” he asked the audience in the middle of ‘Tum Haqeeqat Ho, Koi Khwaab Na Dikhao.” The audience just stared back at him. “Yennodu kural kekkarada?” he asked correcting himself. And almost immediately, a hum of instructions went around asking Hariharan’s microphone to be adjusted and the sarangi’s volume to be increased and so on.

In a traditional ghazal concert, an artist has to carefully set the mood for every composition, build the lines of the poem on top of each other, only to reach the climax with the perfect punch-line of a refrain at the end of every couplet generating a spontaneous ‘wah’ from the audience who understand the poet’s wit as well as the singer’s rendering of it.

While Hariharan sang beautifully, he had to pause once in a while to translate the essence of a couplet and then sing it again. He did this presumably to enable his audience to pick up the subtle, yet profound arguments that the poet had with his muse. He translated for a couple of compositions but for the rest of it, he sang without a break. It would have also helped if he had announced the name of the composition before he began, spoken a little about the composer and the essence of the piece.

After every song, Hariharan flipped through a little notebook he kept in front of him. Once he had decided, he nodded to Dilshad Khan, whose sarangi set the tune and the mood for the next ghazal. Akhlaq Hussain’s harmonium provided a compelling interlude and Shadab Bhartiya kept the mood afloat with this rhythm. Barring one composition, the guitar was largely ignored and not given sufficient space in the compositions.

“Patta Patta Boota Boota” was easily the best. Hariharan introduced some fascinating harkats in this composition and Hussain’s harmonium accentuated them. The sarangi solo at the beginning of this composition was beautiful. Shadab Bhartiya’s tabla set the mood for ‘Yaad Piya Ki Aaye.’ Hariharan sang beautifully here. Compositions such as ‘Yunhi Besabab Na Phira Karo’ and ‘Umrbhar Pachtaaoge Tum’ highlighted themes of angst and longing. The concert was three hours long with Hariharan singing close to eight compositions tirelessly.

That the singer was the real highlight of the programme was made obvious when someone from the audience requested him to sing “Krishna Nee Begane Baro.” The piece was definitely out of place in a ghazal concert but it got a resounding applause from the audience.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 2:39:06 PM |

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