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July 30, 2018

‘Music transcends all geographical, cultural barriers’


July 30, 2018

Music is something that is too sublime and transcends all barriers of caste, colour, creed or national frontiers.

These views were expressed by noted journalist Asif Noorani while speaking at a seminar on Indo-Pakistani film music at the Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences on Saturday evening. To illustrate his point, Noorani cited the example of the genre referred to as jazz and said that it had its origin in Africa but was later interspersed with European influences.

He noted that jazz as we know it today had its birth in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, circa 1912. “It was a fusion of the two totally differing forms of music that gave birth to a new kind altogether.”

He said that Lata Mangeshkar was a shining example. She was as much adored and appreciated in Pakistan as in India because, as he put it, “in music we don’t differentiate between each other on the basis of language, religion or national origin”. In this context, Noorani cited the example of the Muhammad Rafi’s Bhajan in the film ‘Baiju Bavra’, which is in Hindi and is an adaptation of the classical tune, Raag Malkuas.

He talked about the popularity the late Mehdi Hassan enjoyed in India despite the marked antagonism between the two countries, and in this context cited the example of a person in Bengal, Kishore Vhamani, who learnt Urdu just so that he may be able to appreciate Mehdi Hassan’s Ghazals.

Noorani referred to The Beatles who were the rage in the 1960s and said that a relative of his was really taken up by their number, ‘I want to hold your hand’, and used to sing it very often with the result that even their cook started singing it even though he didn’t know English.

“Such is the power of music that it overcomes even language barriers.” Noted vocalist and musicologist Sultan Arshad, who is known for replicating the voice of the late vocalist Muhammad Rafi, delivered a talk, titled, ‘Literary trends in music’.

His talk just kept the participants riveted to their seats as he produced flashes from various hits of the past, which was a really nostalgic trip back in time. He dealt with the composition of lyrics and their setting to music all the way from 1935.

His lecture was highly informative, especially for the young who are just used to a totally different genre of music, world’s apart from that in the 1930s. He traced the metamorphosis of Indo-Pakistani music and produced portions of hits of the 1930s like ‘Panchi Banwra’ rendered by Khurshid and Nur Jehan’s ‘Tu Kaun Si Badli Mein Hai Chand Mere A Ja’ from the film of the early 1940s, ‘Khandan’. These tunes were prerecorded on his laptop. “Lyrics have to coincide with the story.”

As a corollary to what Noorani said earlier, he said that culture or language was immaterial when writing or composing lyrics. Raja Mehdi Hassan, he said, was an Urdu poet but he wrote a lyric in Hindi which was the haunting melody, ‘Mera Sunder Sapna Beet Gaya’, sung by the late Geeta Dutt in the film,’Do Bhai’.

He also produced flashes of Sorayya’s ‘Dur Papiha Bola Raat Adhi Reh Gai’ from the film, ‘Gajre’, with musical score by Anil Biswas. Another Anil Biswas favourite he presented was ‘Eik Mai Hun Eik Meri, Beqasi Ki Sham Hai’ from the 1951 movie, ‘Tarana’, sung by the late Talat Mehmood.

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