Media has failed to promote ghazals, says Asif Mehdi

Media has failed to promote ghazals, says Asif Mehdi

Media has failed to promote ghazals, says Asif Mehdi

Asif Mehdi, son of legendary ghazal singer Mehdi Hasan, is in India to perform. IANS

"The media has been aggressively promoting pop music and packaging it in such a way that youngsters do not feel like listening to anything else," Mehdi, told IANS in an interview.

"If ghazals could be promoted the same way as pop music by the media both in India and Pakistan, with a good visual script and presentation, then the youth would probably return to the genre," he said.

 Mehdi is in India to perform in New Delhi, Lucknow, Amritsar and Hyderabad with several other leading ghazal exponents, including India's Jagjit Singh, from December 10-15. He will perform with Jagjit Singh at the FICCI Auditorium on Thursday.

The concerts are being organised jointly by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and a non-profit ghazal promotion platform, Routes 2 Roots, which is liaising between musicians from South Asian countries to revive traditional classical music.

"I am trying my best to promote ghazal in its pure form. I have been in talks with several platforms both in India and Pakistan to help bring more young audiences to ghazal concerts. My association with Routes 2 Roots is important because it will help me promote the music immortalised by my 'walid' (father Mehdi Hassan) and his famous peers like Ghulam Ali, Farida Khanum and Iqbal Bano," Mehdi said.

Mehdi, whose voice sounds almost like his father, is ready to make his debut in Bollywood."There were many offers and I have spoken to several producers and filmmakers. Inshallah! I will be singing my first Bollywood number soon. I have wanted to lend my voice and music to Hindi movies for a long time," said the singer, who waiting for the release of his new album featuring 12 ghazals.

"I signed a contract with Sony Entertainment last year and the album will be released across the globe in January 2010," Mehdi said.

The ghazal exponent plans to sing "several of his father's tracks and a few of his own" at the concerts.

"The legacy of my father keeps me alive. Without him, I would be nothing. I first came to India with my father in 1986 to perform. He was my first teacher, along with my uncle Ghulam Qadir, who studied music at the Poona University. I started learning from them at 13 and performed with my father in Los Angeles in 1983 for the first time. I was 17 then," Mehdi said.

"The American and Indian audience liked me and did not want me to leave the stage. But I was scared because 'walid sahab' was sitting behind me and I did not want to cut a sorry figure or offend him. I eventually left the stage on my own despite demands by the audience to carry on," Mehdi said.

The musician and his illustrious father have deep roots in India."We hail from the Mandawa district in Rajasthan where we owned a 'haveli' (mansion) in Luna village in the district before partition. But in 1943, my grandfather left for Pakistan, never to return. Subsequently, the entire family followed him," Mehdi said.

The family, said Mehdi, moved to Sahiwal town near Lahore. "I visited Rajasthan in 1986," he said.Like his father, Mehdi is fond of singing 'nazms' by famous lyricists like Mir Taqi Mir, Ahmed Faraz, Katil Shifai, Hafeez Jalandhari and Mirza Ghalib.

"I like the lyrics of Bashir Badr among the new ones. But my message to contemporary young ghazal writers is that they should not write songs that hurt people's sentiments and create artificial divides.

"It robs music of its essence. Many of the new song writers are brash. They should allow an 'ustaad' to vet their lyrics before setting them to music," he said.
The message that Mehdi tries to convey through his music is one "of amity and brotherhood".
"The universal language of 'ghazal' is love," Mehdi said.