Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Ghazal singer Iqbal Bano passes away (b. 1935 - d. 2009)

(taken from http://www.hindustantimes.com)

One of the South Asia's most loved Ghazal, Thumri and classical singers, Iqbal Bano, died on Tuesday at a local hospital in Lahore. She was 74. Iqbal Bano is best known for her Ghazals and her renditions of poems of famous poet and revolutionary, Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Born in Delhi in 1935, Iqbal Bano studied under Ustad Chaand Khan of the Delhi Gharana, an expert in all kinds of pure classical and light classical forms of vocal music. He instructed her in pure classical music and light classical music within the framework of classical forms of Thumri and Dadra. She was duly initiated Gaandaabandh shagird of her Ustad. He forwarded her to All India Radio, Delhi, where she sang on the radio.

Iqbal Bano migrated to Pakistan in the 1950's and was also associated with the country's film industry, which is why chose to settle in Lahore, considered the film capital. She was invited by Radio Pakistan for performances. Her debut public concert was in 1957, at the Lahore Arts Council.

She is remembered for singing the works of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and gave musical relevance to the ghazals of Faiz. At the height of the Zia era, Iqbal Bano sang at a Faiz Festival in Lahore to a crowd of 50,000. Her rendition of Faiz's poem Hum Dekhen Gay caused quite a stir and also landed her in trouble with the military authorities. But this act also made her an immensely popular singer, breaking the boundaries that were imposed by the select audiences of classical music.

Despite her trouble with the military government which debarred her from official concerts, Iqbal Bano continued to sing for private audiences and soon after emerged on stage owing to her immense popularity in a wide section of Pakistani society. However, her failing health restricted her performances and by 2003 or so, her appearences were rare and largely restricted to a few ghazals.

Soon after she withdrew from the public eye and restricted herself to family life, content to spend time with children and grandchildren at her modest residence in Lahore.

Iqbal Bano could sing Persian ghazals with the same fluency as Urdu. She is always applauded in Iran and Afghanistan for her Persian ghazals. She once recalled how the King of Afghanistan gave her a special award for a Ghazal she sang for him in Farsi.

Her recitals stuck to the old classical style that laid more stress on the Raag purity. Basically a ghazal singer, Iqbal Bano has also sung many memorable Pakistani film songs. She had provided soundtrack songs for famous Urdu films like Gumnaam (1954), Qatil (1955), Inteqaam (1955), Sarfarosh (1956), Ishq-e-Laila (1957), and Nagin (1959).


One of my favorite Ghazals sung by Iqbal Bano...I found this translation from:

shaam-e-firaaq ab na pooch, aai aur aa ke tal gai
dil tha ke phir bahal gaya, jaaN thi ke phir sambhal gai

"Ask no more (about) the night of separation; it came, and passed
The heart got diverted again; life found its feet again"

What a huge span of time and experience seems to be captured in the (otherwise simple) words of these two lines... there is a palpable sense of sadness with which Faiz takes note of the way life inevitably finds the means to go on - almost a sense of disappointment at the failure of that much lamented, much demonised, 'shaam-e-firaaq' to inflict a lasting blow!!

And yet, there is also this delicious sense of 'falseness' that rings through his brave claim of the heart managing to find other diversions... one can feel that life never does, actually, manage to shrug off the effects of the separation from the Beloved, and 'find its feet again'...

bazm-e-Khayaal mein ter'e husn ki shama jal gai
dard ka chaaNd bujh gaya, hijr ki raat Dhall gai

"In the salon of (my) thoughts, the candle of your beauty was lighted
the moon-of-pain extinguished itself, the night of separation slipped away"

jab tujh'e yaad kar liya, subho mahak mahak uThi
jab tera Gham jaga liya, raat machal machal gai

"Whenever you were remembered, the mornings became fragrant
when your pain was awakened, the nights grew restless"

Simple, almost too simple; but it still manages to capture that something 'special' that can't be described. The dual-repetition of 'mahak' and 'machal' not only adds a magically lyrical touch, but also creates the impression of a state-of-affairs that repeats almost indefinitely!

dil se to har muamla kar ke chal'e thEy saaf humm
kahn'e mein unk'e saamn'e, baat badal badal gai

"In the heart i had sorted out all the issues before setting out
(however) while recounting before her, (my) words changed themselves"

A cute one! The poet's inability to present his heart's pain to the Beloved is lamented so beautifully here - he explains that it isn't as though he hadn't figured out beforehand what he had to tell her, but when it actually came to telling her, he found that he had ended up saying something quite different than what he intended to...

one gets this wonderful picture of a smitten lover blundering ineffectually through an appeal to a haughtily impatient Beloved, and nervously ending up saying something else!

aaKhir-e-shab ke humsafar Faiz na jaan'e kya huEy
rah gai kis jagah sabaa, subho kidhar nikal gai

"Who knows where the fellow-travelers of the end-of-the-night went, Faiz?
at which spot did the breeze get left behind? and which way did the dawn walk off?

The 'fellow-travelers' who had come together at that magical moment when night was ending, namely the morning-breeze and the flush-of-dawn, lost each other's company soon after... the breeze lingered on at some crossroad and was left behind; the dawn raced off towards the brightness of the day...

For translation of the videoed Ghazal see:

1 comment:

  1. Aman,

    Here's a variation of your translation:

    "Ask not of the night of loss, it's passed
    My heart distracted again, life's found its feet again /
    In the salon of my thoughts was lit, the candle of your beauty
    A moon of pain eclipsed, the night of loss slipped away /
    With your remembrance, mornings grew redolent
    Sadness stirred, nights grew restless./
    In my solitude, I made peace with loss
    In your company, words left me bereft /
    Alas! companionship of the depths of night,
    Where adrift a zephyr; when will dawn break?"