27 Nov 2012

Goodbye, Ghazal? Part II


The ghazal is of the individual and the heart. I love to summarize it as, "Truth-in-Verse". It is bound to be personal. Sadness makes a constant appearance, so does pathos, the pain of love, nostalgia...feelings we are habitual in not expressing. Love songs in this music genre are not trumpeted bang-boom declarations. 


In many of these songs, the subject of the song in unaware of the poet's affections. The songs are an unerring reflection of life, an ode to its majestic often overlooked beauty to life's mysteries. That is why the numerous mentions of female beauty, longing, stars, sky, trees, breeze, the moon, and other nature's elements are never redundant in the ghazal. Truth echoes over generations.   


The 'Get Over It' Culture 
Since it reflects raw emotions, ghazals have inevitably told tales of woe, regret, sadness, and torment. In these times of showcasing a perpetual public face of happiness, wealth and materialism, the ghazal finds no breathing space.

In the urban age of cell phone addiction, social networking, and reduced attention spans, repressed emotions still sprout. Ghazal yet has the potential to regain and renew its audience in the present scenario. But the ghazal singer's pedestal lies empty.There are a whole lot of talented female and male singers rendering cover versions and tributes. But no ghazal artist is featured in popular media voicing any original material, as of yet.

In the Hindi film soundtrack world, rejection has found its catharsis in vengeance, alcohol, party dances and abuse. Note the two acidic songs of Ram Sampath's remarkable soundtrack for Delhi Belly (2011) - especially Bhaag D.K. Bose and Jaa Chudail. To lament is no longer convention, to give vent to anger is more of a bend nowadays. The norm now is to scream, binge on alcohol, have a violent catharsis and forget.

True to Life 
Before the curtains drop on these passage of words, let me recall a scene from the 1957 Guru Dutt classic Pyaasa. On a happy occasion, even as fellow poets recite congratulatory verses, the protagonist weaves his own tiredness and disillusion in couplets of despair. Midway through his dark narration, a man at the gathering urges the poet to recite something happier. In response, the poet expresses in Sahir Ludhianvi's mercurial verse: 

hum ghamzada hai, 
laaye kahan se khushi ke geet?...
denghe wahi jo payenge 
es zindagi se hum...  

(I am woe-begone
from where do I bring songs of happiness?... 
I will only give that which 
I receive from life...)

For this staunch and rebel outlook of baring the heart, the ghazal doesn't go by market conventions and social trends. It is for a braver, somber world, of a lost time and era.

Unless a trailblazer dares to reinvent the ghazal, this emperor of a song genre will be relegated to the mind museums of ghazal lovers. As Gulzar wrote for Singh's sparkling album Marasim - waqt rehta nahi kahin tikk kar, eski aadat bhi aadmi si hai. Time doesn't pause. Its nature is so like a human being.

Click here for - Goodbye, Ghazal? Part I

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