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Lokvani Talks To Ghulam Ali

Nirmala Garimella

Somethings in life are timeless. So are Ghulam Ali’s Ghazals which at any given point, fit any mood, occasion and place. He seems ageless too and at 62, looks extremely fit and amazingly young. And when he begins to sing or recite the first few lines of poetry he brings every music lover present to a standstill. He definitely has this mesmerizing effect on his audience and it was a pleasure to speak to a person of his nature – modest, humble and soft spoken with a infinite patience at the fans that adoringly gathered round him asking him questions, requesting his autograph and giving him a list of the Ghazals they would like him to sing after the first half of the show at a grand musical Ghazal evening organized by R.K.Vision.

While on stage he develops an instant rapport with his accompanists and his audience. “I have come to Boston often. This is probably my sixth visit, It is a great crowd, appreciative and applauding”. He had just flown down from New York and was leaving for San Francisco the next day. I do have a busy schedule. So my practice time gets reduced. Otherwise my Riyaaz at times goes on for 6 hours straight. Now with age,” he says ruefully, “it has definitely reduced. A versatile singer he has sung many ghazals, nazm, thumris over the years. “I do sing in Punjabi but Urdu is my repertoire,” he says.

He believes that the new crop of singers have to really work hard and persevere to reach that level of achievement which is so essential for a ghazal singer. ”There is a lot of talent out there and time alone will tell on their accomplishments. On his latest album Visaal he comments “It was a wonderful combination with Gulzaar. Mashallah! I also like to sing the creations of Shaayars like Mirza Ghalib, Ahmed Faraz, Farhat Shahzad, Amir Khusrao etc”. His mastery over the form is so perfect that compositions like Chupke Chupke, Hungama kyon hai barpa", "Dil mein ek lahar si uthi hai abhi", "Mehfil mein baar baar usi par nazar gayeen", "Kal Chaudavin ki raat thi", to name only a few are classic in their popularity. He has also produced an album Miraz-E-Ghazal with singer Asha Bhonsle. He fuses the classical with popular numbers effortlessly and his play of some of the words in his songs in different modulations is remarkable. Ghulam Ali attributes all these to the grace of God and the goodwill of his fans.

Ghulam Ali resides in Lahore and has sung over the years in various countries in many live concerts. At a very early age of seven he started his training with the great masters Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and also from Ustad Barkat Ali Khan. His father was a vocalist as well as a sarangi player. Along with Mehdi Hassan, he has played a pioneering role in reviving the Ghazal. In one of the many tributes, this one stands out the most. "He can deservedly be called one of the most influential ambassadors from across the border, who, when he sang Faasle aise bhi honge, yeh kabhi socha na tha brought ghazal from both the countries closer to one another."

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