I am a Ghazal critic, I may not be an expert “Urdu-DaaN” but, my Urdu is better than most people I have come across, its a shame that Urdu is disappearing slowly. There are a very few people and very few organizations who are promoting Urdu.

Urdu is Pakistan’s national language, only a few Urdu speaking sects mainly found in Karachi, the salees Urdu or the shusta zubaan that once used to be the main language in the courts of the noblemen in Delhi, Lucknow etc., is kinda rare now. What we see, hear and talk today in Urdu, is the aam bol chaal which is not the same Urdu as before.

Anyways, after reading this blog please don’t challenge me or, point out my mistakes, because to err is human. LOL, yet I am criticizing others and yes why not? We need to criticize each other rather than being complacent or shy or, say its not my business. It is our business to correct and to protect our language.

My intention here is not to ridicule anyone instead, I would like the Ghazal singers to take note of the basic ingredients when they are reciting or singing a Ghazal.

Ghazal is a Ghazal and it is not GAJAL

Mai Ghazal hoon, mujhe Raagaon se sajaya jai

Narm Awaz kay Jaadoo se Jagya jai

Mir aur Ghalib ne sanwara hai Ghazal kay fun ko

Mujh ko Nadaanaon kay hathaon se bachaya jai

Meray Gham jo aapko Miltay, tou aap apne hosh kho diyeh hotay

Yay tu mera dumm hai, jo muskurati hoon mai,

Garr aap hotay tu ro diyeh hotay

My advise is to my fellow non-Urdu speaking singers is, when you recite a Ghazal on stage or at a mehfil private or public, I am sure you must have practiced it, rehearsed it a few times or, even composed the music as in case of a few renowned singers, composers and music directors like A. R. Rahman etc., so my advise is:

1. Check out the pronunciation of ALL the words in that Ghazal, avoid Hindi version of J for Z. And, not just Gajal, but Jindagi, Firr etc., pls avoid Hindi words in Urdu Ghazal.

2. Check out the meaning of the words in that Ghazal and in what context it is used by the poet? For example the famous Ghazal, “Aaj Jaanay Ki Zidd na Karo…” almost all the famous singers have used it as a benchmark to prove they can sing it better (than others) to name a few: Habib Wali Mohammad, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Farida Khanam, A R Rahman, Richa Sharma, Gopa Chakarbarti etc.

I would rank Habib Wali Mohammad’s as the best from every perspective, the words, the accent, the emphasis on words, stretching the words in such a melodious way that has struck me as the best.

What is wrong with Shafqat Amanat Ali? aNo, nothing wrong he improvised it with classical music and ragas, its my personal view and my personal choice that he is after Habib Wali Mohammad. Earlier he used to say “wakt ki kaid may zindagi hai magar…” later he corrected it to, “waqt ki qaid may zindagi hai magar.:

Farida Khanam a great Ghazal singer but the same problem of “Qaaf” and “kay” its not Taaluk but Ta’aluq. I know a lot of ppl admire her, adore her worship her but, not my choice, and I’m restricting this only on this Ghazal, Aaj jaanay ki zidd na karo…

A R Rahman, great voice but he messed up this Ghazal aaj jaanay ki zidd na karo with a couple of blunders.  One, he started with “hai” murr jayenge, its not “hai” it is Haaayee murr jayenge. “Hai” means I have and “Haaayee” is a kinda Aaaah, a woe the feeling of melancholy, the feeling of pain and even the thought of the departure of my beloved. So, when he said “HAI” it changed the meaning of that verse.

The second mistake he made is, “Ruk lo” aaj ki raat ko. Whereas the correct word is “Roke lo” aaj ki raat ko. Now, Ruk lo means “you stay put” whereas, the poet is not asking the beloved to stay put, he is saying, hold the night, stop the time, roke lo aaj ki raat ko, meaning stop the time!

I mean how can you do that? Especially, a person like A R Rahman should have thought about it. Perhaps its due to the fact that Urdu is not his mother tongue.

Some common mistakes even among the Pakistani Punjabi Ghazal singers like, Ghulam Ali etc is: they keep repeating the words Tallak, Tallafazz, Kismet, Kaid etc., in stead of Ta’aluq, Talafuz, Qismet, Qaid.

The worst thing Ghulam Ali does is, he thinks the audience are idiots and fools, he starts explaining the meaning of difficult (in his view) words that he recites. Once in Dubai at a CitiBank sponsored concert, he was booed ‘coz he was explaining too much in between the Ghazal not just the meaning of words but, also on how to emphasize them, when and where? Come on Ghulam Ali that was a concert and not a teaching class for the novice students, people have paid money to listen to you. That was my one and only Ghulam Ali concert that I had attended.

Some other Indian notable singers like Gopa Chakarbarti, despite being a PhD in music cannot express the proper Urdu words, like the French ignores the letter or alphabet “H” or do not pronounce it especially where it is needed, she too has missed out the word “H” in her Ghazals, its neither Gajal nor, Guzal it is Ghazal. The Urdu alphabet “GHaiN” cannot be pronounced in Hindi. Surprisingly the letter R in French sometimes sounds like the Urdu letter “GHaiN” e.g., the car Renault is pronounced as “GHuNoo.”

You may challenge me for saying Renault is pronounced as GHuNoo but, its a fact that  a few years ago I met a French lady from France (not Quebec) and she introduced herself as Elisabeth GHuNoo, and I was kinda awwww??? (First of all the first name Elisabeth not Elizabeth never mind that, what was that noon GHuNoo? :b ? She said, like the car GHuNoo, I asked her you mean Renault? She replied, “Exactement” Exactly!

The Quebecois and the Latinos who speak French, they pronounce R as R and not as GH, lie our Urdu ka Ain, “GHAIN”. Whereas, when the Frenchmen or women from France, when they say France or Francais, they say “Frrnce” and “FrKHansay.” Its more like KHAN.  Anyways, I don’t want to drift from Ghazal to GHuNoo or how the correct French is spoken? Its an old story and not the subject here.

Richa Sharma: I have no clue about her background, she has impressed me with her singing skills and her improvisation abilities and the correct pronunciation of Urdu. She needs to be focusing more on classical than filmy songs and she should be conducting concerts all over the world including Pakistan.

Ps. I have made this blog longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.

  1. #1 by JAVED A. KHAN on April 1, 2014 - 11:02 PM

    Thank you Shenna for your appreciation, we all learn new things every day and we share. Unfortunately our blog is not so active for the last one year or so due to some other commitments but, we do plan to restart it and keep it active from now onwards.

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