Maiden lamhe of ishq and poetry

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He has already ruled the roost with his classical bandishes, sargams, laykaari, alaaps and taans in the court of vocal classical music. Now with his maiden ghazal album — Ishq Lamhe — from the Universal Music India label, classical maestro Ustad Rashid Khan aims to reign supreme over the soft-hearted romantics with his silken melodies and love-quatrains. Comprising nine ear-soothing songs combined with recitations by talented lyricist Ameeta Parsuram, the album promises to assuage some of the void left behind by the two most popular ghazal czars of the sub-continent — Ustad Mehdi Hassansaab and Jagjit Singhji. The vacuum was created following their unfortunate demise and is never easy to fill in. Yet Padma Bhushan Rashid Khan’s khaas peshkash (special presentation) of a passionate overture vouches for his utmost fealty towards the genre and a strong grip over it. His rendition embellishes the album with a string of well-sung rubaiyats (quatrains), nagmas (pleasant numbers) and nazms, which come in the form of rhymed poetic verses.
“This is my first attempt at a ghazal album. I loved everything about the compilation while recording it, be it the overall mood and ambience or the aesthetic shayaari (poetry) infused into the wordings. Mujhe iske andaaz bahut pasand aaye (I’m highly impressed with its style of production),” shares the Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee.
Talking about the central theme of “love” in the album, a reticent Rashidsaab warmly enlightens: “Ishq toh har ghazal album ka ahem hissa hota hai (Love forms the main premise of a ghazal album which sets the ball rolling. This album too has kept with that tradition). Par ishq ke kahi pehlu hote hain. (But love has many facets other than blossoming as romance between two lovers.) Apne mata-pita ke waaste pyaar, khuda ke waaste prem...har drishtikon se dekha jaa sakta hai. (Love can also be shown towards one’s parents or expressed for God. Every angle is unique and important in its own special way).” Laced with raagas like yaman and kaushikdhwani, this semi-classical album unveils an array of euphonious tracks with the titles namely, Mujhse irshaad, pyaar karun ya na karun (nazm), haan wahi lamhe, kambakht dil ne, dastak (nazm), jawaab-e-dastak (nazm), talaash (nazm), yeh kya sochna, labon pe ishq. Boasting of a collection of mellifluous tunes, subtly composed and arranged by Jaspal Moni, the album is conceptually conjured up by Ameeta Parsuram, who is otherwise a psychiatrist by profession. Hence, she appears to have known and read the complex nooks and corners of a human mind well.
Though the realm of classical music is mostly adhered to by a secluded, niche of audiences, yet Ustad Rashid Khan’s sonorous volume reached the ears of avid Bollywood music listeners as well. For the master with a powerful tonal quality has rendered a few good numbers with an effortless full-throated ease. From Allah Hi Rahem in My Name is Khan, a couple of Hindustani classical bandishes in Yatra, Barsega Saawan in Jab We Met to Poore Se Zara Sa Kam Hai in Mausam, Rashidbhai, as many of his die-hard fans call him, has hitherto lent his vocal chords to a host of much-haunting songs. From the list mentioned above, he, however, humbly points out the superhit number from Shahid Kapoor-Kareena Kapoor-starrer Jab We Met to be the most famed chartbuster. Recently, the versatile artiste has chipped in a forthcoming Neil Nitin Mukesh movie and candidly confesses to have forgotten the name of the project. No wonder those who make it to his mesmerising performance, do all the talking for him, because for him, facts and figures are of little value.
Veering the conversation to the emergent young breed of new-wave cinematic composers with metallic, electronic instruments acting as their soundboard, the khayal maestro remarks that their “generation is different, so is their viewpoint and their thought process. Woh nayi peedhi ke hain aur unki soch alag hai. Look, there’s no harm in experimenting and revolutionising the saat-sur with innovative ideas. But then melody is eternal. It will always remain as a permanent fixture as long as there is music. It can never die down, despite there being a crowding of cacophonous, ear-splitting sounds spread across the musicscape.”
Hailing from the Rampur-Sahaswan gharana, Ustad Rashid Khan is the great-grandson of renowned vocalist extraordinaire and the gharana founder — Inayat Hussain Khan. He gave his first concert at the tender age of 11. To the uninformed, the Rampur-Sahaswan gayaki (style of singing) is closely related to the Gwalior gharana, thereby featuring medium-slow tempos, a full-throated voice and an intricate rhythmic play. Having religiously followed this trend and pattern, Rashid Khansaab has further individualised his style with his signature traits and is also thoroughly influenced by leading classical stalwarts — Ustad Amir Khan and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.
Weaving a tapestry of beautiful emotions, Ishq Lamhe imports a fine fabric of shayari which wafts in a fresh whiff of breezy fragrance. Penned by a woman lyricist, the characteristic flavour of feminine grace is perfectly retained in the compositions.
Thematically, the focus has been relevantly laid out on various relationships and their dynamics, apart from love, longing, hope, attraction and ecstatic moments of life. Notwithstanding the conventional rigours and restrictions of shayari (art of poetry) according to its riwayat (tradition), Ustad Rashid Khan feels that the wordings will definitely connect with the listeners of today because of the flowy, facile and simple usage of Urdu language incorporated by Ameeta Parsuram.
It is also significant to note that for a long time, the nazm has not been the cornerstone of versified lyrics. Ishq Lamhe scores on this front too. For it celebrates legends like Sahir Ludhianvi and Faiz Ahmed Faiz — two of the much-revered shaayars, well-known for their nazms — by including four nazms in this album. Also introducing Suha Khan, the much-talented daughter of Rashid Khan, Ishq Lamhe cuts the debut imprint of Suha’s well-trained velvety voice. Surely, the budding singer parades much potential to go a long way ahead. As the inlay-card suggests, she makes inroads with one ghazal and one nazm on the album. “Yeh zaahir si baat hai ki bachpan se use mausiqi ka shauk raha hai, kyun ki ghar par maahol hi aisa tha. (Music is in her genes and she has been fond of it right from the start since her childhood, as she is born and brought up in a musically-inclined atmosphere at home). She just pleaded to me, Papa main bhi aapke saath is album pe kaam karun? And I readily gave in,” he meekly narrates with a smile.

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