Q. How has the journey been so far?
A. Thakawat mein toh raha hoon par safar bohot khushnuma raha hai (It has been tiring journey but pleasant nevertheless). I’ve received love wherever I’ve gone. Even at places I visit for the first time, I’ve got people’s love and appreciation.
Q. Have the traditions of ghazal singing changed? What do you feel about its future?
A. Ghazal isn’t changing; people are forcing it to change. Words are accorded a special, deep meaning in this genre and I feel it’s the responsibility of the singer to preserve their essence. Today, the direction of music has changed. Singers are in haste and want instant fame. But it’s not just the singers who are to blame. Even listeners don’t have the time and patience to understand the genre. But if you ask about the future, I think the art will live on. There will always be ghazal admirers and singers.
Q. Do you find differences when it comes to audiences in India and Pakistan? Which are your favourite performance venues in both countries?
A. I don’t see any difference as I receive love everywhere I go. I enjoy performing in Lahore as it has intelligent listeners, who understand the nuances of the art. I also enjoy performing in Kolkata. Even though people there don’t understand the complex poetry, they have a good understanding of music.
Q. As an artiste, have you ever faced the brunt of the problems that prevail between India and Pakistan?
A. Not really. I have always been loved and respected in both the countries. Though there have been some instances that were upsetting, it’s been unfortunate for those people, not for me. I’ve been coming to India for the past 35 years and each visit has been memorable.
Q. Which are your favourite compositions?
A. The closest ones for me are the ones that are admired by my listeners. To name a few: “Gaye dino ka suraag le kar”, “Dayam para hua tere dar par” and “Shaam ko subh-e-chaman yaad aai”.
It was reported in Indian media on September 30, 2011 that Jagjit Singh and Ghulam Ali were to perform at a concert last Friday but only he ended up on stage, entreating the audience to pray for Jagjit Singh, who had suffered a brain haemorrhage in the morning and been rushed to Lilavati Hospital in a critical condition. “I was so tense. Irrespective of which country we belong to, our creativity binds us together,” points out Ghulam Ali. “I’ve been on the phone with doctors every two hours and finally I’m told he’s stable. I remember him in my namaaz (prayers) everyday. Inshaallah, woh jaldi theek ho jayenge (With God’s grace, I hope he gets well soon).”
In Pakistan all music lovers pray for long life of Ghulam Ali who has given us many golden moments through his soulful music. g
As a first-time film director, television comedian Jon Stewart pleads ignorance about the workings ...