by GEETA NANDAKUMAR
Song of the soul Farida Khanum
‘Aaj jaane ki zid na karo, haaye mar jaayenge ham to lut jaaenge, aisii baatein kiyaa na karo’.
Strains of her most popular ghazal in all the grandeur of her voice wafted all over the room. Rehearsing for a concert organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the NGO ‘Routes to Roots’ at the FICCI auditorium in New Delhi this week, Pakistan’s legendary ghazal icon Farida Khanum, looked svelte and poised even in her 70s. She was busy chiding the tabla accompanist, asking him to tone down the percussion. “Flow gently with the music,” she told him. Turning to me with a welcoming smile and immense warmth, she said, “There is too much cacophony and too little mellifluous music these days. Often, I am completely put off by the raucous play of percussion and refuse to sing even in Pakistan.” The irritation was palpable. The rehearsal continued as I soaked in the rich voice. Music that is manna! Age has only added to the infinite variety of her music. Finally, she broke off and asked for another percussionist. […]