Remembering Begum Akhtar

L to R: Pankaj Udhas,Anoop Jalota, Penaz Masani, Chandan Das,Talat Aziz, Rita Ganguly
  •  Ambica Gulati

The auditorium was drowned in waves of divine bliss as ghazal maestros Pankaj Udhas, Anoop Jalota, Penaz Masani, Chandan Das and Rita Ganguly took the mike turn by turn. The rare occasion: Jamal-e-Begum, a celebration of inspiring life and works of Queen of Ghazals, Jama-e-Begum Akhtar. Organised by Kaladharmi in association with Teamwork Arts this two-evening celebration was curated by Begum Akhtar’s disciple Professor Rita Ganguly. This was the 40th year of the programme commemorating the legendary singer.
The evening began with an audio-visual on the legendary ghazal queen Begum Akhtar by Avinash Pasricha. He had met her and attended her baithaks a couple of times too, he told me.
I had heard Pankaj Udhas live many years back, almost two decades. But even then, I was unprepared for the rhythmic flow and the surprise package was Anoop Jalota. Better known as the Bhajan king, he is am amazing ghazal singer. All the singers in their different styles had one common thread—the reverence for their music and the ability to lift the soul’s call.
Pankaj Udhas was conferred a Lifetime Achievement Award while eminent poet Amjad Ali Amjad of Pakistan was conferred with BAAG Award by Minister of Tourism and Culture Shripad Yesso Naik.
Though I could not attend the second evening, it was shayaari recitals by Amjad Islam Amjad, Sheen Kaf Nizam, Manzar Bhopali, Madan Mohan ‘Danish’ and Rajesh Reddy. The melodies of yesteryears and the lost language of shayari were so well revived in two evenings.


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