Whenever he visits India, ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali says he comes as the messenger of love from across the border. To him, the very boundary is non-existent.
Ghulam Ali, who is one of the few artistes to have performed prolifically in India and Pakistan, says he feels no difference when performing in either nation. “Bande ek hi hain, andaaz ek hi hai,” he replied when asked about his opinion of the music on either side during his visit to Ludhiana on Sunday.
As he entered Omaxe Residency on Pakhowal Road, scores of waiting eyes rushed towards him in a surge to pay him regards or convey heartfelt feelings to their favourite ghazal singer. Ghulam Ali had arrived in Ludhiana on Sunday morning via Wagah border to perform at a concert hosted by Hindustan Times. Excerpts from a talk with the maestro:
Do you feel a difference while performing in either country?
“I feel no difference at all. Whether I am in India or Pakistan, I get the same amount of appreciation, admiration and love. In fact, I consider myself to be an ambassador of peace between the two nations.”
Please share your perception and memories of Ludhiana.
“It must have been a decade since I last visited this city. I am old now and don’t remember much. But I do know some people personally here. And, of course, any artist associates the city with Sahir Ludhianvi and his distinguished poetry. This aspect will always make the city special.”
What will you say about the increasing popularity of pop music over the traditional and classical forms of music?
“Today’s music is commercial. The term ‘commercial’ itself means ‘artificial’. I do not like artificial music at all, one that is learnt as quickly as it is forgotten. This change is palpable in both India and Pakistan.
The so-called musicians are ready to sell themselves for a bit of fame and fortune. For me, learning music is a mission. It takes years for an aspiring artist to learn the nuances of the art.
Why, it took me 12 years at the feet of my ustad to learn classical music. People used to go to gurus to learn in olden days. Unke pair dabate they (They would press their feet). But today, all of that tradition is lost.”
What will be your message to the young aspiring musicians?
“I appeal to all the young musicians to have patience. Do not try to learn very fast or you’ll be at a loss in future. Allah insaaf karta hai (God does justice).”