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Faiz Ahmed Faiz Event Celebrated In Boston Successfully Despite The Pandemic

Tahir Ali

It was on the 24th of June 2020 when the newly elected Board members took upon the reins of the Pakistan Association of Greater Boston (PAGB), with a clear directive from the PAGB election commission 2020 - Parwez Wahid, leading the commission added, "The current state-of-emergency put restrictions on public gatherings which is a major function of the PAGB. This presents some immediate challenges on how to proceed in the months ahead until these restrictions are eased.  The Director of Public Relations, Mr. Tahir Ali, has offered use of his Zoom account by which Board meetings can be conducted." [Siraj Khan: President, Farzeen Fareed: Vice President,  Nadia Rehman: General Secretary, Shehla Gull: Treasurer, Mohammad Shoaib Khan: Director of IT, Fozia Qamar: Director of Social Affairs, Tahir Ali: Director of Public Relations]

Following the resounding success of the 14th August event, Siraj Khan, the President and the PAGB team were encouraged to take on bigger challenges. Timing was such that the 30th Anniversary of PAGB was not too far and coincidentally so was the death anniversary of the legendary poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Siraj decided to add a caveat and merged the two celebrations in one. Hence the idea for the event "PAGB's 30th with a tribute to Faiz" was born and the event date set for Friday November 20, 2020 to coincide with Faiz's 36th death anniversary. The event was titled 'Lab Azad HeiN'. 
Siraj Khan welcomed the audience and Fozia Qamar started the event by and shared the fact how the Indian film actress Shabana Azmi respected Faiz and her video clip was shown singing the title song. The same was narrated especially for PAGB by the popular Pakistani movie actress Mehwish Hayat thus setting the stage for Heather Schmid, the Grammy Academy Member who exclusively rendered in her own melodious voice the same for this event. Salman Alvi from Karachi sang 'Aaj Bazaar meiN' along with 'Kuch Ishq kya kuch kaam kya'. Tina Sani introduced by Fareena Sultan sang her signature ghazal, 'Bahar Aayee' and 'Kuch pehle in ankhon.' Both Salman and Tina sent their personal messages to PAGB as well.
Aslam Ali of Toronto, who is very well known in Boston and Canada was one of the first professional singers to perform in Boston when the Pakistan Association was emerging. Aslam rendered 'Dasht-e-Tanhayee' and 'Hum DekheiN Ge'.  Rakhshanda Ahmed also from Toronto, offered 'Shaame firaq' in the first half.  Shua Arshad of Boston sang, 'Aye kuch abr kuch sharab 
Dr. Meena Sundaram, a cardiologist sang live on zoom, 'Aapki yad aati rahi raat bhar' and 'Yun saja chand' one could tell that she sings from the heart. One can easily ascertain that Faiz's poetry knew no borders. This became even more obvious, when the segment 'Faiz's contribution in cinema' was presented by Siraj Khan.
Faiz in Pakistan cinema: Anjum Taseer from Sweden spoke about Faiz's role in the film 'Jago Huwa Savera' where the song 'Ab Chorro Gham ki Baat' was picturized on a fisherman rowing his boat in the river. Najmi Masarrat of Dubai re-ignited 'Mujhse pehli se Mohabbat mere Mehboob na Maang' which was picturized on Shamim Ara in the film 'Qaidi'. Siraj Khan recited the opening lines of the poem 'Hum jo tareek rahoN meiN mare gaye' and the rest was shown as it was picturized on the big screen on Shamim Ara in the clip from the movie,'Farangi'. Followed by 'GuloN mein Rung Bhare' sung by Shoaib Khan, from the same movie . The song, 'Shaam huwi ghar aaja' picturized on Nayyar Sultana from the movie 'Sukh sa Sapna' was rendered by Najmi Masarrat from Dubai.
Siraj reflected upon on how Faiz is loved and embraced in Bollywood, even today. First Salman Alvi rendered, 'Raat yun dil meiN teri yaad ayee' which was followed by a film clip from film  'Janwar' where Shammi Kapoor [yes of Junglee fame] is on the big screen singing the same ghazal to his lady love. The film poster of the 2014 movie 'Haider' was shown with the title song 'Aaj ke Naam' playing in the background. Meesha and Dilip Acharya of San Francisco sang the ghazal 'kab yaad mein tera sath nahi' originally sung as a duet by composer Khayyam and his wife Jagjit Kaur in the Indian movie 'Anjuman', and from the Pakistani film Ghunghat, 'Mere piya ko dhoond ke lao sakhi' was nicely performed by Rakshanda Ahmed of Toronto, following an excellent presentation by Khwaja Irfan Anwar, son of Khwaja Khurshid Anwar, on his father's friendship with Faiz and their respective deaths within 20 days of each other.
On the literary front, Dr. Arfa Syeda Zehra spoke on Faiz and Urdu language, Faraz Ali from Dubai offered 'Zindaan Nama ki ek shaam' - Siraj likened Faraz style to Zia Moheyuddin. Tarannum Ahmed from Dubai recited, 'Raaz-e- Ulfat'.  Maarij Kirmani of Cambridge recited 'Rafeeq-e-rah and shared a personal anecdote with Faiz, while Javed Zaidi of Boston recited his own poetic tribute on Faiz. Other local reciters included Farida Ahmed with 'Rung hai dil ka mere' and Kewan Khwaja on 'Khalq-e-Khuda ke Raaj' and former PAGB President, Dr. Malik Masood Khan with Faiz's 'Aaj ke Naam' and taking us back in time with pictures of Faiz when he was in Boston for an event with PAGB. Dr. Malik Khan embarked on a journey down memory lane, rekindling 30 years of PAGB with photos of past events. he also revealed that 'Hum DekheN ge' was actually completed by Faiz when he was in Boston in January 1979, which gained popularity when in 1986 Iqbal Bano 'boldly' sang it during General Zia-ul-Haq regime.
Moneeza Hashmi, daughter of Faiz in a recorded message from Lahore, said, "first let me begin with thanking Pakistan Association of Boston for inviting me here today," Moneeza read out a few letters that she received from her father. In a letter she wrote, "mera boht jee cha raha hai ke mein aapki khoob khidmat karoon, pyar karoon" Moneeza read her father's response, ".. aur ye ehsaan chukane ki kya baqwaas hai hamara tumara ehsaan yahee hai ke pyar karte raheiN." Moneeza also recalled a moment when she was young and asked her incarcerated father to send her a doll on her birthday, but instead she got a letter on her birthday, which she read out. She admitted that she got very angry when she received a letter in place of a doll. She had realized over the years the value of the gift, the doll wouldn't have lasted that long, but the letter is immortal.

Fozia Qamar, Nadia Rehman, Shehla Gull and Farzeen Fareed seamlessly emceed the event.

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