Ek Sham Ghazal Ke Naam, the first ever Ghazal concert lived upto its expectations, at the Dorothy Winston Theatre in Auckland on Saturday 10th April. It was the culmination of nearly six months of efforts by Ghazal enthusiast Nasir Mirza, with the support Sangam School of Music.

The evening started off with Mirzaji reciting the holy verses to invoke the blessing of the almighty and set the tone for the evening. Prof S D Madhur then rendered a couple of Ghazals with ease and pathos that had the audiences in mood for more. It was wonderful listening to Prof Madhur and his renditions of ghazals like ‘Kahan aake ..’. This was followed by Shobha Pathak rendering the ever popular ‘Aaj Jaane ki Jid na karo’ perhaps indicating to the audience that the concert was going to be a long one and that they should not even think about leaving the seats for the next couple of hours!

Sandhya Rao’s rendition of the Ghazal maestro, Mehdi Hassan’s ‘Ranjish hi sahi’ was a treat to the audience’s ears. Mehdi Hassan is known to sticking to classical singing while rendering his Ghazals and Sandhyaji’s classical training was in ample evidence when she rendered this Ghazal with ease! She was equally at ease with her other ghazal ‘Game firaq ke kisse’.

Kanika Deish was not only soulful but very melodious with her presentation of ‘Mujshe tum nazar gira to rahe ho’ as well as ‘Apko bhul jaye’. She put her smooth voice to excellent use while creating the longing potrayed in the song and the evening was set to be a hit.

Mirzaji, had the audience tapping when he sang the evergreen ‘Mehfil mein bar bar’ by Ghulam Ali. He has an understanding of the language which helps him to apply the proper weight on every word that is sung as well as taking the right amount of pauses, to create an immediate impact on the audience. He sang his Ghazals with a great panache and the audiences responded immediately.

Arun Khotkar’s rendition of ‘Phir chidi raat, baat phoolon ki’ along with Sandhya Rao brought back memories of the film Bazaar for which it was rendered by Talat Aziz for the legendary composer Khayyam. The poet Moinuddin Maqhdoom had penned this wonderful Ghazal which sounds harmonious even today!

Nida Fazli gave us the wonderful Ghazal ‘Apni marji se kahan jaye hum’ sung by the evergreen Jagjit Singh for the TV serial ‘Sailab’. Viraj Maki’s execution of this Ghazal can only be termed as ‘exceptional’. Not only did he sing it to perfection, but also did full justice to the essence, of the mood, of the song. Harish Khatnaur, is a name synonymous with Ghazals in Auckland and he did not disappoint his followers with the ghazals ‘Diwaron se milkar’ and ‘mehfil mein rang’. He is an old hand at judging the pulse of the audience and made sure that the ‘ethos’ of the evening is maintained.

Credit must be given to the musicians, Basant Madhur on Tabla, Hemant Thakar on Keyboards, Shivam on Base guitar, Surbhi Sharma on Violin and ample support from Prof Madhur and Arun Khotkar on Harmonium. They switched gears and tempo to match the singing with ease and never once did any one of them let the tenet go haywire. It is worth noting that the set design by Mirzaji was wonderful and the backdrop he created gave a feel of real ‘Ghazal ‘ evening happening somewhere in the Indian Subcontinent.

Perhaps the evening belonged to the young star of Ghazal singing in Auckland, Roshan. The way he sang ‘Chand angdayin le raha hai’ was proof that we are blessed with an upcoming artist who will shine in the coming years and we are lucky to have him amongst us. Rest assured that the Ghazal scene will be incomplete without him in future. The Artists were honoured with a traditional Shawl for gracing the evening which also had the presence of the Indian High Commissioner H.E Admiral (retd) Sureesh Mehta among the audience.

The clock was moving fast and nobody realised that it was well past 11 pm when the curtain had to be drawn on a wonderful evening, but not before Arun had the audience spell bound with Jagjit singhs ‘Shola hun bhadkane ke gujarish nahin karta’. This Muzzafar Warsi’s ghazal aptly describes the internal conflict of one’s mind and the conflict facing Mirzaji of ending the program with so many songs yet to be sung! Guess, it will be some other ‘Sham’ when we can hear more from these artists.

Till then the memories of this ‘Sham’ with remain with you – as the couplet goes;
kabhi khamosh baithoge, kabhi kuchh gungunaaoge
maiN utna yaad aaoonga, mujhe jitna bhulaaoge.