The Sufi sultana whose voice can send audiences into a trance-like state is back in the city. Usually here for the Jahan-e-Khusro music festival every winter, she's made an early visit this time to perform at a concert hosted by Routes 2Roots on Saturday. Parveen, whose repertoire includes ghazals, Sufi songs and kafis, will sing popular numbers such as Dama Dam Mast Kalandar. She says she always looks forward to performing in Mirza Ghalib's city. Excerpts from an interview.
How is it to perform in Ghalib's city?
I am very happy. The deep understanding of poetry and the warmth of the people reminds me of Lahore. What can I say about Ghalib saab. So wide is the range of his ghazals and nazms that one can never get enough of it. Even after doing an album on his poetry, where I sung Nuktachin hai ghame dil and Ye na thi hamari kismat ke visale yaar hota, I am still discovering the layers of meaning in his oeuvre. On February 15, his death anniversary, every television channel in Pakistan pays musical tributes to the poet. Singers of the calibre of Mehdi Hassan and Ghulam Ali participate in these.
How did a Sufi song sung by you end up in Dil Se with Malaika Arora gyrating to it, on top of a train?
I take it as a compliment if stars such as Shah Rukh Khan dance to Chaiyan Chaiyan inspired by O tere ishq nachaya karke thaiya thaiya, penned by Hazrat Bulle Shah. I must say it been shot well.
How and when did you begin to sing?
I was born in Larkana, Sindh and grew up singing at the dargahs of sufi saints. At the age of nine, I gave my first performance at the mausoleum of Shah Abdul Latif Bitai. Even today, I make it a point to go and perform at his Urs every year.
You've performed to Kabir, Bulle Shah and Sheikh Farid. Whose lyrics do you enjoy singing to the most?
I am too small to make a choice between such spiritual masters. Whether it is Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Bulle Shah, Ghalib or Farid, I sing anything and everything that the almighty wants me to.
What is the way of the Sufi?
A Sufi brings people together and emphasises on the values of humanity. The aulias, revered both in Pakistan and India, are great examples of this.
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 6 pm onwards. Invites available at Music Land, PVR Saket; Mercury Audio, Khan Market; Rhythm Corner South Extension II and Radio Gramophone Connaught Place. For details, call 011-41646383.