This is a fabulous, almost flawless performance by Sreeram, an aspirant for the Indian Idol selection. Originally rendered by A R Rahman, this young talent has given a new dimension to this ode to South Asia’s celebrated saint Khawaja Muinduddin Chishty of Ajmer.
I had the pleasure of meeting these young men – Zakir and Omar – who are devoted to the life Dr Salam and have been working against all odds. Theirs is a small but historic project and they need our support. I am posting an email by the producers that updates us about this project. Please pass the word around and contribute to this important project.
Thank you for your support over the past few years. Thanks to contributions we received in 2009, we began filming in Pakistan early this year. To view a few behind the scenes photos please visit our press page at www.abdussalamdocufilm.com/press.php
We are still far away from our target of 500,000 USD, an amount needed to support on-location filming in various countries, the purchase of archival footage, and research, production, marketing and distribution. As a tribute to Salam, we hope to use any proceeds from the final docufilm to advance science education in developing countries. (more…)
A piece of Urdu poetry that has remained with me through seasons, years and all the vicissitudes…
This is an extraordinary ghazal (rhymed poem in Urdu composed in classical style). The poet is perhaps Saleem Kausar whose expression is subtle yet brutal. There is a sense of finality in the lyrics – a denouement that is being challenged and hence a dynamic is created that allows the tragedy of two people parting their ways to turn into a moment of absolute beauty. The sadness of the verse is augmented by Gulbahar Bano’s unique voice that brings out the depth of meaning in the lines.
I can only translate the first couplet:
Tau kiya ye tay haye ke ab umr bhar nahee milna
Tau phir ye umr bhi kiyon, tum se gar nahee milna
Is it now agreed that we shall not meet for life
But what good would be living if I will not be with you
As I rendered this literal translation, I wanted to curse myself for being so inadequate with words.. Those who can understand Urdu or Hindi would know what exactly I am complaining about. I dedicate this to someone special who remains as close as time itself. In fact, I am grateful to this muse who sent it the other day bringing back the smell of summer heat, the shades of white and all the flowers that bloomed and were tucked into thick books.
Ali Sethi recently attended the Jaipur literary festival and his extraordinary performance is now accessible to those who were not there. I should thank him for sharing this video. Ali’s instructions were also meticulous but I will not post them here except his concluding comment: the whole of the rest of the session is fantastic, and includes an excellent performance by Shabana Azmi as well as a very funny story told by Javed Akhtar about his first meeting with Faiz Sahib..
My dear friend Bhupinder alerted me to his post that talks about Tamas, a great novel (and subsequently a gripping TV serial) on the Partition. Now the serial can be watched online. This is what Bhupinder wrote:
Thanks to the indefatigable AG, the TV serial Tamas broadcast by Doordarshan in the late 1980s is now available online. (including some commercial ads from those days!) Based on a novel by Bhisham Sahni on the partition of India, it hit the TV screens in the backdrop of Babri Masjid- Ramjanmabhoomi imbroglio and brings back memories of some very fine TV serials made at time- Shyam Benegal’s The Discovery of India, Gulzar’s Mirza Ghalib and Arvind N Das’s documentary India Invented based on DD Kosambi’s works. Happily all these are now available at youtube and/or google videos. (more…)
This is a great song from a brilliant, but less known film Zakhm (wound). The film dealt with the thorny issue of communalism during the Bombay riots of 1990s; and how the protagonists’ concurrently bear Hindu and Muslim identities making it difficult for them to side with one particular group. In the final analysis, the film turns the whole subject around and articulates a strong yet subtle message of humanism.
Galli mein aaj chand nikla (The moon has re-appeared in my lane) has an old-world feel about it; the composition invokes the age of early Bollywood music and the lyrics are quite moving as well.
This poem composed by Gulzar was beautifully rendered by Asha Bhosle in the unforgettable film Ijazat. Someone forwarded me the text and I suddenly remembered all those evenings, when this song was played and re-played amid friends, beloveds and memories. All the little objects of my room at home (that has changed so many times now), at college, and wherever this song was played suddenly came to life.. Good grief, I am being sentimental. I need to go back to work!
I am not posting the Urdu text – I don’t have a translation; however, I am uploading a video here with my favourite Rekha and the formidable Naseeruddin Shah – those who cannot read Urdu might like to listen to the lilting melody..
“O God, you are my state of being” is what this Kafi of Shah Hussain loosely means. It is about the internal and external knowledge of Reality. I have been singing this Kafi for the last few days. Here is a translation (courtesy Shahidain) followed by an audio version and the Punjabi lyrics-
“O God, only You know all my pains.
You are within me and You are outside me( You are everywhere)
In every pore of mine (from top to toe) only you dwell.
You are the warp, You are the woof.
You are every thing for me.
Says Hussain, the Humble Faqir, I am nothing, You are everything”.
Interpretation by Naveed Siraj: Divine Love is ingrained in every fibre of ones self & this Love is overwhelming and ever-present. Like Pathanay Khan wailing charkha bolay sain sain i.e., even the common household chores remind one of the Lord, so one loses the distinction between the begining of this love and its manifestation and its end. [this is why andar, bahar,room room vich toonh captivates ones imagination]
And once again Abida Parveen sings it so beautifully: (more…)
Someone once said Abida Parveen is not a singer or an artist… she is an experience….. her voice and expression takes you to a different universe… when she collaborated with India’s ace filmmaker, poet, artist, revivalist, musician and activist Muzaffar Ali the result had to be something divine … something out of ordinary, something that transcends all boundaries… it was purest of the pure Raqs-e-Bismil (dance of the injured)… totally unforgettable and soulful … In Abida’s own words Raqs-e-Bismil has the glow of Almighty in it…one can become wali by listening to it…. sufi poetry has a magic that is beyond any explanation, any comprehension … it fascinates me as each time it takes me into a new realm of discovery.
I am sharing my favorite ghazal from the album with translation… although each piece is a priceless gem yet this ghazal has the power to take you beyond yourself. Abida is at her best here.
The English translation is done by Muzaffar Ali himself.
Hairat mara ze har do jahan be niaz kard
Een khab kaare daulat e bedaar meekunad
Bewilderment has absolved me of both the worlds
This is the consequence of awakening from my dreams
Khuli jab ki chashm e dil e hazeen,
to vo nam raha na teri rahi
Hui hairat aisi kuch aankh par ki asar ki be asari rahi
Pari goshe jaan mein ajab nida ki jigar na bejigari rahi
Khabare tahhayyur e ishq sun na junoon raha na pari rahi
Na to tu raha na to main raha jo rahi bekhabari rahi…
(Khamsa by Nazeer Akbarabadi for Siraj Aurangabadi)
The eyes of an anguished heart open…
No longer moist.. Bereft of tears
The perplexed vision
Remained unmoved.. Devoid of response
The soul heard.. An unusual sound
That took the pluck of life away
As wondrous love revealed itself
The fairy vanished..The ecstasy lost
Nor you remained.. Nor I was found
mere oblivion was all there was…
Mujhe bekhudi ye tune bhali chashni chakhayi
Kisi aarzoo ki dil mein nahi ab rahi samayi
O surrender in love,
You have given me a taste that pales all worldliness
No desire remains
In the heart filled with submission
Na hazar hai na khatar hai, na raja hai ne dua hai
Na khayaal e bandagi hai na tamana e khudai
Neither distance nor fear…
neither hope nor prayer
neither thoughts of subjugation
nor desire of godliness
Na muqqam e guftagu hai na mahhall e justaju hai
Na wahan havaas pahunche na khirad ko hai rasai
No place for exchange of words…
no occasion for further quest
Where neither consciousness reaches
nor thoughts transcend its realm
Na makin hai ne makan hai na zameen hai ne zaman hai
Dil e be nava ne mere jahan chhavni hai chayi
No one resides..Neither habitation exist…
Is where this wandering heart has come to camp
Na visaal hai na hijraan na suroor hai na gham hai
Jise kahiye khwab e ghaflat so woh neend mujh ko aayi
Where there is no union… No separation
no sorrow… no joy
What is said to be an endless oblivion
I enter such a slumber