An evening of Ghazals, Qawwalis and passionate clapping

By Kersi Meher-Homji

It was all about “ishq” (physical or spiritual love and passion). I refer to the Ghazal and Qawwali  Mehfil-e-Surororchestrated by Vinod Rajput and presented by Aasha Foundation for Indian seniors with disabilities on Sunday.

Before the concert I did not know the difference between Ghazals and Qawwalis but now I do. In cricketing terms, a Ghazal is like a Test match ”“ stylish and classical whereas a Qawwali is a like Twenty20 match ”“ full of non-stop action and flamboyant audience participation. To me music and cricket are synonymous. Both keep scores, have rhythmic beats and need talent, rehearsals / net practice and dedication.

The first half of  Mehfil-e-Suror  brought us closer to God with divine ghazals. Emcee Rekha Rajvanshi introduced the soulful singers and explained the intricacies of ghazals in her inimitable poetic style. She also recited her own poetry on  Pita  (father) as the recital coincided with Father’s Day.

Amrita Kohli and Vinod put us in the Ghazal mood with a duet “Oos mod se shuru karen”, followed by Asmita Mankad singing “Yun hasraton ke” and Sonali Roy (who has done playback singing in Bollywood movies) “Aye dilé nadaan”.

More Urdu poems with rhythmic couplets and refrains by Seema Bhardwaj and Alban Thomas made the audience swoon, tapping their feet in unison.

The second half exploded with frenzied clapping and frenetic audience participation as the Qawwali session commenced. It was all  ishq  now as explained by the vibrant emcee Ruchika Jain. She coaxed the audience to dance on the floor as all the singers sat on the stage.

Sonali and Vinod opened the frantic session with “Salame ishq meri jaan”. Vinod then doubled up with Asmita to render “Hai agar dushman”. The climax of the evening was “Nigaahen mila ne ko ji chahta hai” by Asmita, “Ishq ishq hai” by Seema and Vinod and “Yaari hai imaan” by the group.

I may have forgotten a few numbers because my note-taking pencil fell down as I tried to write, clap and eat delicious snacks served by Aasha volunteers at the same time.

Mehfil-e-Suror  was truly an evening to savour, thanks to the ever-smiling and cool Vinod, the melodious singers and the Band Baaja musicians Surinder Singh, Dr Gamini Goonetilleka, Ranga Kandadai among others.

Truly, “Nigaahen mila ne ko ji chahta hai”!


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