Bazm Honors the Work of Mir, Daagh, Momin & Jigar

By Ras H. Siddiqui

Left to right: Prof. Ahsan Syed, Annie Akhtar and Sudhir Narain

Bazm-e-Arbab-e Sukhan (or just Bazm), a group dedicated to the promotion of Urdu and its formidable poetry here in Northern California, held an evening of remembrance and scholarship on August 4th in the San Francisco Bay area to the delight of many who have developed a love for the language far away from its roots.
The remembrance was of Professor Hassan Jahangir Hamdani who recently passed away and whose absence at Bazm gatherings is bound to be felt for quite some time. The scholarship segment was dedicated to some of the oldest craftsmen of Urdu which enhanced its early beginnings in the United Provinces in what is now India. The focus here was on the work of Mir Taqi Mir, Daagh, Momin and Jigar Moradabadi but the omission of some others was just not possible. And finally when someone as talented as Sudhir Narain, who is a part of the Ghazal singing tradition (from Agra, home of the Taj Mahal) is part of the program, it is nothing less than icing on the cake.
The start was obviously on a somber note. An emotional Annie Akhtar moved us with some of Bazm’s memories of Hamdani Sahib. A pictorial slide show of Professor Hamdani’s services to Urdu, Muslims, South Asians (of all religions) was presented as Tashie Zaheer narrated. “Church, Masjid, Mandir or Gurdwara” Hamdani Sahib made his presence felt everywhere. Doctor Waheed Siddiqee and Professor Ahsan Syed paid their own tributes to Professor Hamdani. And none other than the very accomplished Noshi Gilani was there to present her work: “Sabr, sabr, magar, Aakhir kitna sabr?” she asked. “Mout say rag-e-jaan ka kitna faasla hota hai?” she continued. Very true and difficult words from Noshi included her last recollections of Hamdani Sahib. Indeed “Roshni kabhi nahin marti.” And last but not least the poetry of Farooq Taraz moved us all. “Dard-e-hijr-e-yaar mein koi aazaan nahin. Aaj Humdum, paas meray mera Hamdani nahin.”
The second segment was nothing short of educational. Urdu, the lingua franca of millions in Pakistan and India (not to forget the pockets now in the Gulf states and Bangladesh and here in North America), needs to be passed on to future generations. And the best way of doing this is to present its old poetry via the new technology (computer aided) mediums. That was exactly what occurred as a few lines from the works of numerous old poets were presented along with their profiles by Dr. Waheed Siddiqee and Professor Ahsan Syed, our resident expert. Some who were impatient and will argue that this went on for too long before the musical segment need to understand that Bazm is not just about entertainment. It is about the promotion of a language and a culture which Annie Akhtar and Sahab Siddiqui along with a number of supporters from Pakistan and India who are now Americans take quite seriously.
And then the entertainment section arrived which delighted the audience. Sudhir Narain is a wonderful ghazal singer and a credit to this art. He hails from Agra in India and it sometimes feels like he brings with him the beauty of its most beautiful monument within his voice. He may not be as well known as many of the others like Jagjit Singh both in his homeland, in America and in Pakistan, but it is time that he makes his presence felt there.
A performance each in Karachi and Lahore would be of immense benefit to the connoisseurs of the Urdu ghazal resident in these cities and would greatly enhance his career.
And with that we close here with two lines from one of Sudhir Narain’s most famous singing attempts. The words are from Ghalib. “Meri qismat mey gham gar itna tha, Dil bhi ya Rab kayi deyay hotay.” And to that, what can a writer in English possibly add?





Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.