Mehfil-e-ghazal for Ammi

Mehfil-e-ghazal for Ammi

For Rita Ganguly, Ammi is her only world. Those precious nine years of training under the acclaimed ghazal singer Akhtari Bai Faizabadi, fondly called Begum Akhtar, is what Rita cherishes even now. Rita honed her skills under Ammi’s able guidance and memories of those years are fresh when she pays tribute to her teacher’s 99th birth anniversary in a programme Jamal-e-Begum Akhtar, recently held at India International Centre (IIC).

Presented by Kaladharmi BAAG (Begum Akhtar Academy of Ghazal) the programme was a curtain raiser to the yearlong centenary celebrations as they will unfold. The event also included a documentary film on Begum Akhtar, designed and scripted by Rita Ganguly and photographer Avinash Pasricha. It made for an interesting watch for those who knew little about the legendary singer while it was nostalgic for many who grew up listening to her ghazals.

Rita shared with the audiences her experience with Ammi. She talked about a concert in Hyderabad, where the Queen of ghazals intentionally made some errors while singing and asked her disciples to take the stage and complete the piece. “How can a trained singer make mistakes? But she did that just to give us (me and other disciples) a chance to perform live. She was a teacher who would do anything to promote her students,” recalls Rita.

Since talks alone are not enough to remember the renowned ghazal exponent, poet Rajesh Reddy recited ghazals and nazms and on popular demand, he presented a taranumm ‘Shaam jis waqt khaali haath jaata hoon mein’ and a ghazal, ‘Yun dekhti anndhi mein, jaane kitni udaan baki hai’ and then deepened the emotional connect with another ‘Ab kya batayein toote hain kitne kahan se hum’, followed by ‘Rang mausam ka hara tha pehle, pedh yahan kitna ghana tha pehle’.

But the audience wanted more and he obliged with a self-composed nazm, ‘Parindo ko manzil milegi yakeenen, hawaaon mein unke par batate hain, wahi log khamosh rahte hain jo kuch kar dikhate hain’.

But the evening remained incomplete until ghazal singers Ahmed Hussain and Mohammed Hussain, who were accompanied by Ghulam Ali on sarangi, Akhtar Azam Khan on tabla and Zameel on harmonium entertained the audiences with Chaand ka ek toota hua tukda mere jam ka hai, yeh mere kaul hazrat Khayyam ka hai.

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