FOR the third successive year, the Ghazal Bahaar festival was enjoyed by the genre’s followers in Mumbai. After the two-day festival in 2014, it was cut short to one day last year. This time, it returned in its two-day format, on January 15 and 16.
There was a change in venue too, as the fiesta moved from Rangsharda in Bandra to Veer Savarkar auditorium, Shivaji Park. The quality of music, of course, remained as good as it was in the earlier episodes, as the line-up was a mix of established and young artistes. The festival was held in aid of SBMS Vriddh Anand Ashram, a Pune-based old age home.
Both evenings had their highlights. Day One began with senior artiste Ghansham Vaswani, who rendered four ghazals, including the popular ‘Uske Dushman Hain Bahut, Aadmi Achha Hoga’. His daughter Shivani Vaswani presented two. The evergreen Chandan Das came on next with the brilliant ‘Khuda Ka Zikr Karein Ya Tumhari Baat Karein’ and followed it up with three more, including ‘Na Jee Bhar Ke Dekha’.
Other high points were Malini Awasthi’s rendition of Amir Khusro’s ‘Kaahi Ko Byaahi Bides’ and an Awadhi folk song, Jazim Sharma’s performance of the Ghulam Ali-popularised ‘Faasle’ and Sraboni Chaudhuri’s excellent presentation of Shakeel Badayuni’s ‘Mere Humnafas Mere Hum Humnawa’, immortalised by Begum Akhtar. Anup Jalota was next, and his set’s high points were ‘Tumhare Shahar Ka Mausam and ‘Chand Angdaaiyan Le Raha Hai’.
If anything, the opening night had a few limitations. To begin with, probably because it was Sankranti, one saw quite a few empty seats, and the overall attendance may have been around 70 per cent. Secondly, the time management went awry, as some singers took 35 or 45 minutes, while Jazim was restricted to two songs and Sraboni only one. One missed Aditya Saraswat, who was scheduled, as he was unwell. When there are many performers, it’s essential to ensure everyone gets a fair chance, and youngsters should in fact be encouraged even more.
Thankfully, the second night made up for these drawbacks. The attendance was much higher and the crowd enthusiasm even more. Even though the programme ended around 11.30 pm, the singers got good time. Pooja Gaitonde, down with w high temperature and hurt ankle, sang three numbers, including Faiyyaz Hashmi’s ‘Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo’, made famous by Farida Khanum. Anurag Sharma, who often enthralls with Ghulam Ali, Mehdi Hassan and Jagjit Singh compositions, did a new set, including pieces written by Farhat Shahzad and Shiv Kumar Batalvi.
Tauseef Akhtar impressed on ‘Yeh Rang Ashkon Ka’, ‘Ishq Karo’ and the Veer Savarkar-penned ‘Yeh Hindustan Mera’. Delhi-based Radhika Chopra was simply charming on ‘Deewana Banaana Hai Toh’ and ‘Yun Na Reh Reh Kar Humein Tarsaaiye’, whereas Ashok Khosla impressed on his evergreen ‘Ajnabi Shehar Ke Ajnabee Raaste’. Bhupinder and Mitali rendered film ghazals like ‘Dil Dhoondta Hai’, ‘Beti Na Beetayi Raina’ and ‘Huzoor Is Kadar Se’.
For the grand finale, the participants got together and rendered the ‘Haqeeqat’ hit ‘Hoke Majboor’. One of its antaras was brilliantly sung by Bangalore-based Biju Nair, who had come as a guest. It was an emotional moment for both singers and the audience.
All in all, it was a two-day treat. One wishes there are more festivals like this one and Khazana, spearheaded by Pankaj Udhas at the Trident hotel In July. Compared to Hindustani classical and film music-based shows, the number of ghazal events is very low. Hopefully, Khazana and Ghazal Bahaar may inspire more organisers to enter the fray.