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Mysticism at our Doorstep
Jul 13, 2004 02:38 AM 6878 Views
(Updated Jul 13, 2004 02:58 AM)

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The Ingenious Qawwal


The first name that my mind brackets with the word Qawwali is the rinky-dink Altaf Raja. A music genre thats so customary in India and Pakistan but yet an undesired sect amongst the Indian youth. A high shade of credit of this present attitude goes to the likes of Altaf. There was a time when the bridles of Qawwali were domineered by one man, ''Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan''. A man who took Sufi Mysticism to the doorstep of Hollywood and had the likes of Peter Gabriel and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder collaborating with him. A withdrawing legacy, Qawwali, experienced its golden era with Nusrat. A voice that could transport a listener to the seventh heaven, that was the magic of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.


Sanson Ki Mala Pe Simroon Main Pee Ka Naam... A song expressing delirium of the love frenzy Meera (who adulated Lord Krishna). Nusrat's engrossment with the expression is very intricate. There is a line in the song which says ''pritam ka kuch dosh nahin hai, woh toh hai nirdosh, apne aap se baatein karke ho gayi main badnaam''. The passion with which Nusrat specifically highlights the word ''nirdosh'', makes it sound absolutely glorious. On the contrary, ''Tumhe Dillagi Bhool Jaani Padegi'' is a jaunty romantic number where Nusrat seems less intense yet the song has its own voodoo moments.


Sufi mystic saints used qawwali as a channel of worship which made the disciples and the listeners go frenzy. This is comparable to the ''talking in tongues'' which is followed by a few christian factions such as the Pentecostals. A similar dementia is displayed in his numbers ''Aaj Rang Hai and ''Allah Hoo''. Allah hoo starts of with a slow paced but a very high pitched alaap but later induces the typical Sufi frenzy into the listeners.


A major anomaly in his Sufi style is noticed in Nusrat's more commercial Bollywood numbers. His Bandit Queen's ''Akhiyan Nu Chain Na Aawe'' is a drippy wistful number which expressed the anticipation of a lover whose other half has departed. Identical is the bearing in the song ''Sanu Ek Pal Chain Na Aawe, Sajna Tere Bina''. Nusrat brings about the grief in both the numbers with exquisiteness. His dynamics of changing the pitch of the vocal chords from a normal scale to a unreachable heights is simply mind-boggling. Similar was his approach in AR Rahman's ''Gurus of Peace''. It was engaging listening to the two masteros together.


Ishq gawah hai har ek dard ki


Zanjeer ishq hai har ek rishtey ki


Ishq saari hadon ko tod daale


Ishq toh duniya ko pal mita bhi de


Ishq hai jo saare jahan ko amanti de


Raunak ishq se hai saare aalam ki......


Nusrat's association with Javed Akhtar in Afreen Afreen is exhilarating if the music arrangement is taken off. As a composer, Ek Din Kahin (by Sonu Nigam) and Khali Dil Nahi (by Hans Raj Hans and Alka Yagnik) were brilliant. Though his stint as a music director in bollywood was very brief, Nusrat still managed to leave his mark behind.


Today Nusrat lies in grave in Faisalabad, Pakistan, while the world honors this wizard's accomplishments which overstepped regional and religious boundaries.....They remain immortal.


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