One of the South Asia's most loved Ghazal, Thumri and classical singers, Iqbal Bano, died on Tuesday at a local hospital in Lahore. She was 74. Iqbal Bano is best known for her Ghazals and her renditions of poems of famous poet and revolutionary, Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
Born in Delhi in 1935, Iqbal Bano studied under Ustad Chaand Khan of the Delhi Gharana, an expert in all kinds of pure classical and light classical forms of vocal music. He instructed her in pure classical music and light classical music within the framework of classical forms of Thumri and Dadra. She was duly initiated Gaandaabandh shagird of her Ustad. He forwarded her to All India Radio, Delhi, where she sang on the radio.
Iqbal Bano migrated to Pakistan in the 1950's and was also associated with the country's film industry, which is why chose to settle in Lahore, considered the film capital. She was invited by Radio Pakistan for performances. Her debut public concert was in 1957, at the Lahore Arts Council.
She is remembered for singing the works of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and gave musical relevance to the ghazals of Faiz. At the height of the Zia era, Iqbal Bano sang at a Faiz Festival in Lahore to a crowd of 50,000. Her rendition of Faiz's poem Hum Dekhen Gay caused quite a stir and also landed her in trouble with the military authorities. But this act also made her an immensely popular singer, breaking the boundaries that were imposed by the select audiences of classical music.
Despite her trouble with the military government which debarred her from official concerts, Iqbal Bano continued to sing for private audiences and soon after emerged on stage owing to her immense popularity in a wide section of Pakistani society. However, her failing health restricted her performances and by 2003 or so, her appearences were rare and largely restricted to a few ghazals.
Soon after she withdrew from the public eye and restricted herself to family life, content to spend time with children and grandchildren at her modest residence in Lahore.
Iqbal Bano could sing Persian ghazals with the same fluency as Urdu. She is always applauded in Iran and Afghanistan for her Persian ghazals. She once recalled how the King of Afghanistan gave her a special award for a Ghazal she sang for him in Farsi.
Her recitals stuck to the old classical style that laid more stress on the Raag purity. Basically a ghazal singer, Iqbal Bano has also sung many memorable Pakistani film songs. She had provided soundtrack songs for famous Urdu films like Gumnaam (1954), Qatil (1955), Inteqaam (1955), Sarfarosh (1956), Ishq-e-Laila (1957), and Nagin (1959).