I am a music lover as well as a lover of poetry. Quite naturally, there is no bound for my joy when I listen to quality Ghazals. Today I am reviewing a mind-blowing album of Ghazals and Nazms whose value cannot be assessed because it is invaluable. Its a combined effort of two of the greatest ever Ghazal singers – one from India and one from Pakistan. The title of this gem is Meraj-e-Ghazal.
Meraj-e-Ghazal (the ascendance of Ghazal) is a joint effort of Asha Bhosle, the legendary Indian cine and pop-singer and Ghulam Ali, the legendary Pakistani Ghazal-singer. Asha Ji, the younger sister of another legend, Lata Mangeshkar; is better known for her filmi songs sung for Bollywood movies. She came out of her elder sister’s shadow very soon and carved a niche for herself in the world of cine-music. Her voice was considered as more suited for jaunty songs and almost all the dance numbers of Helen are on her voice only but she sang profound and delicate songs no less in numbers. During the nineties, she earned name and fame as a pop-singer also. However her voice is most suited for Ghazals. As clarified in my review of Bollywood’s top Ghazals, Ghazal word has been derived from the word Ghazaala (female deer) and the painful voice let out by a wounded Ghazaala only is Ghazal if we put it literally. Hence Soz (pain) is the essence of Ghazal and Asha Ji’s Godfigiven voice is always able to convey the pain embedded in the words of the Ghazal to the listener. The classic Ghazals of the movie – Umrao Jaan (1981) illustrate this point.On the other hand, Ghulam Ali is a great Ghazal singer considered second only to the legendary Mehndi Hasan Saheb. Among the Ghazal singers, he is a class of his own. Not only his Godgiven voice and a command on the classical music but also his knowledge of Urdu poetry and thereby selecting only high quality Ghazals and Nazms for singing, puts him in an altogether different category. He is undoubtedly the most popular contemporary male Ghazal-singers. It’s a mesmerizing experience to listen to Ghulam Ali in total solitude. His voice enters through the ears and reaches first the heart and then the soul.
Meraj-e-Ghazal is an album that had come in 1983. That was the time of cassettes and not CDs and MP3s. This album contains two cassettes and both contain touching Ghazals and Nazms. The tagline of this album is ‘Asha Bhosle presented by Ghulam Ali’. Perhaps this tagline is because of the fact that the music for these Ghazals and Nazms has been composed by Ghulam Ali Saheb himself and he has not given any solo Ghazal of himself in this album, only sung some Ghazals jointly with Asha Ji. Hence mainly it is Asha Ji’s album with many of her solos and some duets with Ghulam Ali Saheb. But Ghulam Ali Saheb is the part and parcel of this outstanding piece of music.The first cassette contains three Ghazals in the A side – 1. Roodaad-e-Mohabbat Kya Kahiye Kuchh Yaad Raha Kuchh Bhool Gaye (lyric – Saaghar Siddiqui) which is Asha Ji’s solo, 2. Dayaar-e-Dil Ki Raat Mein Chiraag Sa Jala Gaya (lyric – Nasir Kaazmi) which has been jointly sung by Asha Ji and Ghulam Ali Saheb, 3. Yun Saja Chaand Ki Chhalka Tere Andaaz Ka Rang which is again Asha Ji’s solo Ghazal. All three render a hypnotizing effect to the listener. I like the small Ghazal – Yun Saja Chaand the most whose lyric has been penned by the legendary Shaayar – Faiz Ahmed Faiz Saheb. It’s a brilliant piece of Shaayari containing only three SHERs (couplets) but all are heart-piercing. Asha Ji’s voice-vibration while singing the last word ‘Rang’ at the end of every SHER is simply mindblowing. I had listened to it first on radio some time after the release of this album and could never forget it.Side B of the first cassette contains three Ghazals – 1. Gaye Dino Ka Suraag Lekar Kidhar Se Aaya Kidhar Gaya Woh (lyric – Nasir Kaazmi) which has been sung jointly by Asha Ji and Ghulam Ali Saheb, 2. Hairaton Ke Silsile Soz-e-Nihaan Tak Aa Gaye (lyric – Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi) and 3. Raat Jo Tune Deep Bujhaaye, Mere The Mere The (lyric – Saleem Gilaani). The last two ones are simply mindblowing. Hairaton Ke Silsile contains some difficult Urdu words whereas Raat Jo Tune Deep Bujhaaye is in very simple language. Asha Ji’s enchanting voice with the brilliant lyrics generates magic for the listening ears.
The second cassette contains three Ghazals in the A side : 1. Phir Saawan Rutt Ki Pawan Chali, Tum Yaad Aaye, Tum Yaad Aaye (lyric – Nasir Kaazmi) which is a heart-conquering duet of these two maestros and perhaps the most popular and well-known number of this album which takes the listener closer to the nature through its words referring to different aspects of nature; 2. Dard Jab Teri Ata Hai To Gila Kis Se Karein (lyric – Manzoor Ahmed), 3. Karoon Na Yaad Magar Kis Tarah Bhulaaoon Use (lyric – Ahmad Faraaz). The last two are Asha Ji’s solo Ghazals and they are very very sentimental, mainly meant for the broken hearts.The B side of the second cassette contains two Nazms and one Ghazal. It starts with a delicate romantic solo Nazm of Asha Ji – Salona Sa Sajan Hai Aur Main Hoon (lyric – Shabih Abbaas), is followed by an emotional Ghazal – Dil Dhadakne Ka Sabab Yaad Aaya (lyric – Nasir Kaazmi) and ends with a very romantic Nazm sung jointly by these two greats – Naina Tose Laage, Saari Raina Jaage which has been penned by Naqsh Laayalpuri Saheb, spreading the fragrance of the soil of this great nation (India and Pakistan are culturally inseparable as far as music and poetry are concerned).Ghulam Ali Saheb, showing his prowess in classical music, has prepared very good compositions for all the songs, considering properly the mood of every song. The sound of the instruments has been kept to the minimum and the impact of the voice (s) of the singer (s) has been allowed to prevail over that. It’s an album which needs to be listened to in silence and solitude so that the magic of the words is able to envelop heart and soul.
I had bought a copy of this album first in Kolkata (then Calcutta) in 1991 but since I did not have any cassette-player at that time, I gave it to my friend – Ajay Jain who was studying C.A. with me and kept listening to it in his cassette-player. Around 14-15 years later, I bought a copy of this album for me while living at Rawatbhata (Rajasthan) which a known cassette shop owner specially arranged for me. Then I listened to both the cassettes peacefully in my home many times and have been listening to them till date. In those days, I used to live alone for a major part of the year and when this album came to me (in July 2005), it was rainy season. And believe it or not, I shed countless tears while listening to certain songs alone in my home (missing someone special whom I lost). Especially Phir Saawan Rutt Ki Pawan Chali, Yun Saja Chaand, Hairaton Ke Silsile, Raat Jo Tune Deep Bujhaaye, Karoon Na Yaad Magar Kis Tarah Bhulaaoon Use and above all, Dard Jab Teri Ata Hai To Gila Kis Se Karen always made me burst into tears. The scenario was like that it was raining outside the home on one hand whereas my eyes were also releasing a rain of tears inside the home on the other.
For all the lovers of Urdu poetry and quality music, this extra-ordinary album is a grand treat. If you are fond of Urdu poetry and / or good music and have not listened to this album till now, then you are sure to be missing something great.
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