LIFE

Kashmir Valley lives on in her heart

SHE MAY have lived out of Kashmir for many years but the beautiful Valley lives on in her heart. And it is the love for her land and her mother-tongue that Begum Shameem Azad -- wife of Union Urban Development Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad -- feels has played a role in winning the Padma Shri that would be presented to her this coming Monday.

"The award is being presented to me for my contribution to Kashmiri folk music. I brought in a new trend in the traditional music. I have combined classical music with folk music. It is similar to ghazal. It has been greatly appreciated," says this singer who has lent her voice for many a television serial including "The Great Maratha" and "Jai Hanuman".

Though Begum Azad has sung in other languages including Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and Telugu, it is her mother-tongue that she is most comfortable with. "I feel I can express myself the best in Kashmiri. I see the lyrics in front of me and I know how I should sing," she adds.

Language apart, Kashmir finds space in many of her songs. "I wrote a lot of songs during militancy. They were revolutionary songs condemning militancy," says this singer. In fact, her list of songs also includes one written jointly by Mr. Azad and her. Titled "Meri Zannat, Mere Kashmir, Meri Jaan Hai Tu... ", the song was filmed in Kashmir to show the devastating changes brought about due to the militancy.

"I hope things will get better in Kashmir and more people will get exposure. This award will also pave the way for other women to enter this field," says Begum Azad.

Delhi will be treated to this "Lata Mangeshkar of Kashmir" on March 31 at the centenary celebrations of K.L. Saigal. To be held at India Habitat Centre, the show will feature Saigal numbers by Begum Azad.

By Anjali Dhal Samanta

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