‘Ghazals are dying’

Talat Aziz  

Talat Aziz is sore that TV does not give adequate space for true art forms

Talat Aziz may not be a listener’s delight, at least when he talks. He is not the kind who can reel off sugar-coated answers, clothed in subtle or coarse humour. He is one who speaks his mind and is quite firm in his beliefs. There are so many things that make Talat bitter, like overemphasis on films, the quality of film songs and the mindless submission to television. But perhaps what worries him most is the state of ghazals today.

“Ghazals are dying. When I say this I’m conscious that this is the fate of most art forms, except perhaps films and television. Even the media, I have often felt, has shifted its focus to very trivial aspects. Very few provide adequate space for true art forms. Moreover, I don’t find youngsters taking up ghazals seriously. The ultimate aim of an aspiring singer is to find a place in films,” feels Talat.

The youngsters cannot be blamed fully for this. There is no proper atmosphere to flourish. “I went through regular training in Hindustani classical before taking up ghazals.

Then there was this stint with Mehdi Hassan saab. So by the time you are on your own you have built a certain amount of confidence. There was demand for good, pure music. Singers of our generation built up a repertory which stood us in good stead.

Now, the goals of these youngsters are short. Instant recognition is what they want.” Talat places utmost importance to the poetry in a ghazal. “The tune and everything else should fuse with the meaning and mood of the poetry. Improvisation and portrayal of the varied moods of the lyrics is what makes a ghazal. It is often believed that lack of quality Urdu poetry has resulted in the degeneration of the ghazal form. This is not true for even now we have some excellent Urdu poetry. In fact, my latest project is an album on Urdu poetry.”

One who has always shown the guts to experiment, Talat has had a finger in television, theatre and films, as actor, composer and singer. “Dynamic Fusion (a fusion with Louis Banks, Rashid Khan and Sonya Sehgal) was one such experiment. I have worked with Farookh Sheikh in a stage production on Mirza Ghalib’s poems. Farookh played the main role, while I rendered the poems on stage. Acting was during the early phase of my career, no more of acting anymore.”