Every ghazal connoisseur swears by his Chupke chupke, Hungama hai kyon barpa and Tere shaher mein. And he will be performing ‘live' in Mumbai on Saturday. Ghulam Ali discusses mosiqi with Shaikh Ayaz.
How did the month of Ramzan go for you?
It went off well. (Laughs) I fasted almost every day, I prayed five times a day.. but missed out on some rozas. Riyaaz takes up a lot of time.. at times, when I'm busy with concerts, I don't fast.
How did you celebrate Eid?
This time I was at home with my family and close friends. Most of the time I'm travelling around the world for my concerts. I've celebrated several Eids abroad. But wherever I am, even in the remotest corner of the world, I make sure to call my family. And I never miss the Eid namaz.
How receptive have you found the audience here?
<b1>I love Mumbai, ek alag hi baat hai iss shaher mein. But look closely and you'll find many similarities between Mumbai, Karachi and Lahore. The culture of Pakistan and India is almost the same. As for the audience, well, they've been very receptive to my music, my ghazals.. they've given me immense love.
Which ghazals can we expect in this concert?
Expect the best. It all depends on the demands of my audience. Farmaishein hongi to main zaroor gaaoonga.
Like most maestros, you must be getting annoyed with cell phone rings at concerts, don't you?
Yes, I get disturbed with the slightest noise. Many youngsters - and I'm not blaming all young people in general - constantly chat on the phone even while a concert is on.
<b2>For me, music is divine. I don't sing for the money, as much as I do for the love of it. It is sacred.. it needs extraordinary respect. I'm ready to sing my heart out but all I ask for in return is respect.
You're remembered for your songs in Nikaah and Bewafaa. Were you ever keen on a career in Bombay films?
Ghazal is my priority and will always be.. the rest is just a bonus. I still get many offers to sing and compose for films. I've politely turned them down.
With the mounting interest in international music, hasn't the interest in ghazals faded in the subcontinent?
Ghazals can never die. It's true that music has become more commercial than ever before. But then you need money to run any business or to promote a particular kind of music.
I'm not against international music.. listeners abroad have grown up on rock, hip hop and rap. These go with the mood of the times. But this is not at the expense of ghazals and classical music.
Icons like Bade Ghulam Ali saab, Ustad Alla Rakha Khan saab, Pandit Bhimsen Joshiji and Pandit Ravi Shankarji.. have contributed to the phenomenal rise of classical and traditional music in Asia.
Why are there no music gurus and ustads today?
Seekhne waalein kahan reh gaye, bhaijaan? Where have the disciples gone? Music is a difficult art to master. You'll find ustads everywhere, but for that you need students who're willing to invest time in learning music.
Does the fact that there are no new-generation ghazal singers disturb you?
It does in fact, I don't know if new singers are interested in ghazals at all. There must be some who must be into ghazals but I haven't heard of them..
How can the interest in classical music be revived?
The media should help in popularising traditional music. I respect the media,
aap log bahut kuchh kar sakte ho
. Also listeners should be able to distinguish quality music from the mediocre. A more mature audience is essential.. listeners who can treat music as
rooh ki ibaadat.
In India, Jagjit Singh, Pankaj Udhas and Anup Jalota are the most popu lar ghazal exponents. What do you have to say about their music?
They have their individual styles. They have a following..
achchi baat hai, hai na?
Music lore has it that there was a long-standing rivalry between Lata Mangeshkar and the late Noor Jehan. Some experts even say Lata's early singing style was inspired by Noor Jehan's. Would you agree?
(After a pause) I look at both Lataji and Noor Jehanji as legends. Dono ka apna muqaam tha, mashallah.. both had their styles. Why compare them? Anyway, I didn't see any rivalry between them.
Some months ago you were seen in a Mumbai hospital. Were you there for throat treatment?
(Surprised) Nahin nahin, galat baat hai. I have many doctor friends. I visit them, they come over sometimes.. nothing serious.
Ever had a throat problem before? Never. I just told you.. mere bahut doctors aziz dost hain, sometimes they do check-ups.. every singer ensures that his voice is in perfect shape. Aur sab aap ke ghar mein khairiyat na? Allah hafiz.
(Hindustam Times is organising a ghazal concert at the Shanmukhananda Auditorium, King Circle on October 20, 6.30 p m. The concert is partnered by Airtel, Gitanjali Group, Dew Drops, Krish Developers and hindustantimes.com. This is an event by Perfect Octave and Adived Advtg.)