Tuesday December 05, 2023

Arshad Mahmud launches digital platform to present romantic music, ghazal

October 01, 2023

After several years of working on a project to engage with budding talents for the creation of music through beautiful poetry with meeting the requirements of the digital age, veteran music director Arshad Mahmud on Saturday announced the launch of a digital platform at an event held at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture.

For Mahmud, who has also acted on stage and screen and is probably most famous for his portrayal of Chaudhry Sahab in Pakistan Television (PTV) drama Aangan Terha, his first and foremost passion is music, not acting.

He was mentored by his teacher Shoaib Hashmi, who first asked him to compose tunes for children for the PTV programme Akkar Bakkar. He later composed poetry written by prominent poets. He brilliantly composed many poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz that were sung by Nayyara Noor and Tina Sani — ‘Hum Keh Thehre Ajnabi’, ‘Mera Dard Zarra-e-Be Sada, Mere Dil Mere Musafir, Aaj Bazaar Mein’ to name a few.

For many years, he served at the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa). It was during his time at Napa when he first thought of creating a digital music platform that could spread the type of music he had been composing. However, due to his administrative responsibilities at the academy, he could not work on it. He told the event that since he left Napa a few years ago, he began dedicating all his time to his passion for music and was able to actualise the idea of Mousici, which also has a Youtube channel along with the website.

He said he was not satisfied with the music being produced these days that had very little romance. He added that poetry penned by great poets was also not being presented with music as it was the case in the yesteryears.

Mahmud explained that Mousici aimed at going forward alongside reviving and cherishing the past heritage. In such a way, people could get a kind of music that they would feel close to their hearts, he said. He added that the digital medium brought its own challenges.

Earlier, once the music director had recorded his song in a cassette, his work was done, but now if a music director wanted to use the platform of Youtube, he also needed to have a video because just audio would not work on Youtube, he remarked.

Mousici would upload at least four songs every month, he said. The initial set of songs that would be uploaded were played for the audience. They included a ghazal by Nasir Kazmi — Dukh Ki Lehr Ne Cheda Hoga, some poetic pieces by Faiz, including ‘Hum Par Tumhari Chaah Ka Ilzaam Hi To Hai’ and Aaiye Haath Uthayen Hum Bhi’, and a ghazal by contemporary poet, Majid Qadeer. The songs were composed by Mahmud and others.

All the singers were young talents. Two of the songs were sung by a choir. Mahmud said he had experimented with a choir for the first time and people would be able to find a new style of Ghazal singing in that.

Mahmud also thanked Sitar player Ustad Nafees Khan for his support and involvement in the project.

Talking to The News, the music director said many other compositions were also ready that would be uploaded later. They included the famous Nazm by Munir Niazi ‘Hamesha Dair Kar Deta Hoon Mein Har Kaam Karne Mein’.

The other speaker at the event was Saleema Hashmi, Shoaib’s wife, in whose house Mahmud had composed his first tune for Akkar Bakkar. She recalled how Mahmud would demand Batisa (a sweet) and her husband ensured it was available whenever Mahmud and his friends were to come for rehearsals.

She remembered how music was created democratically in her house as all the participants, including Shoaib, Mahmud, Shahid Toosy and tabla player Ilyas, had a say in the final composition. She said it was Mahmud whose compositions led the PTV air poetry of many great poets such as Nasir Kazmi and Meeraji, who were otherwise not heard much on the national television.