Rattan Gujadhur

[Rattan Gujadhur] Ghazal journeys: Ustadji Jagjit Singh visits to Kenya and Mauritius

Lundi 22 Avril 2019

By the years 1974 to 1984 the fame of the maestro started to rise like a bright red Phoenix after a long period of obscurity and extreme poverty. The old snake had shed his skin and a dramatic world hero had emerged. Angels and gods seem to have nodded at his imminent crowning greatness.


By the mid-1990s with Indian art nouveau movies like ‘Bazaar’ and ‘Arth’ he was the crowned ghazal ke sartarr (King). However earlier before, something supremely beautiful had begun to develop in the exclusive Indian bourgeoisie groups both in Kenya and Mauritius, and to some extent in Mombasa. 

They had decided that it was of high fashion and a thing of status too, to invite the maestro for exclusive late night Mehfils. It was around the years 87 or 89 (I forget the dates exactly) that he had landed in Mauritius at La Pirogue. The maestro had finally come! I was invited to sit at his table but was too socially inept to say much, or did not understand much in ghazal folklore, but I recalled anecdotally that he was so bored with everyone that night, the music was loud and disjointed, and he just got up and left early. He came to me and pinched my cheeks ‘mereh beta ke tarah ho tum’.

The Mehfils were rare, alcohol flowed like the ganga, and were very elitist affairs and very raag classically centric forum, where commercial ghazals would be abhorred and instantly rejected and laughed at. The maestro knew he had to raise the bar. He took the comfort of the opportunity to dutily sing Faiz, Sudharshan Fakir, Ghalib, Allahabadi, Mir, Murabadi, Zafar and so many of these truly refined urdu poets of the famed old Delhi and Lucknow.

Ghazals like ‘dekh to dil ki jahan se utha’, masterfully performed by the enormously talented Mehdi Hasan, was rendered by Jagjit in an illustrious much slower tempo, and it suffused all with Mir`s well weaved plyings and complaints. It is truly a masterful poem by Mir, who like Mehdi Hasan, stands on his own fame. The lines (below) were carefully explained to the audience, and they are, then set on fire. The ‘wah wah’ and appreciative grunts were tremendous. The master had finally triumphed!

gor kis diljale kī hai ye falak 
shola ik sub.h yaañ se uThtā hai 


O heaven O Firmament whose grave is this of,
Out of which sparks are emerging


Emerge it very much did, it is truly in such august mehfils that he pushed Sudharsan Fakir’s poetry to the very forefront of the literati world. ‘Unko bhoole hue apne hi sitam yaad aaye’, and in a lower tempo executed the difficult line with such wonderful tabla accompaniment and made the words magically dance as if on their own accord, ‘jab unhen gair ne tadpaaya to hum yaad aaye’, is now almost addictive to any serious Ghazal listener. I personally became a Sudharsan Fakir junkie after this Ghazal. All in all, it is the great illustrious Mir Taqi Mir that came alive again in these Mehfils:

ishq meñ jī ko sabr o taab kahāñ 
us se āñkheñ laḌīñ to ḳhvāb kahāñ 


Only In love, can one find such endurance,
If I do not fight with her eyes, how  else can one dream


The crowd were pierced directly in the heart, were vibrating like shamans, and demanded more, much more. I just watched elated at the rise of this beautiful idolatry. They were glad to be lovers and Infidels. The youtube recordings are alas and not supreme recordings  but they give one a sample of the deep beauty of the artist, his refined classical tempo and high artistic flair. There was not a tinge of commercialism in his devotion to this art form, the ghazal. 

I have created a link of those 38 rarities and great works of Art, they reemerge, like some long lost Van Gogh’s piece de resistances, that one would have been suddenly rediscovered. This is my gift to my friends, after many hours of searching, remembering and loving, and healing !

Now, alas, only after so many years are, Murabadi’s lines well understood by me, neither are they about wine, nor about drunkenness. It took time and many sad mistakes and magistratral errors in life for me to get closure on their elusive meanings. 

Rind Jo Mujh Ko Samjhate Hai Unhe Hosh Nahin,
Mayekada-Saaz Hu Main, Mayekada-Bardosh Nahi,


Those people who consider me a drunkard, they are not themselves in their senses,
I am an admirer of the tavern but not dependent on it


https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLTQ_HbHL3bISAyLgF3vXmmx6v-uZZBivf

It is strange now that these Mehfils have now gone all silent, and the era has itself has silently passed. Their intensity seemedreal, and the fun it exuded felt like it would last for eternity, and it in in Ghalib`s lines that we end, 

jis dil pe naaz thā mujhe vo dil nahīñ rahā

This heart, on which we opined with pride, is no more

A propos de l'auteur : Rattan Gujadhur left Mauritius for higher studies in the US in 1999. He has practiced in the Pharma and Biotech world for over 29 years and is a Dr in Chemistry. He remains deeply in love with Mauritius and has published reminiscences of Mauritius via a poetry collection and a novel

 

Rédigé par Rattan Gujadhur le Lundi 22 Avril 2019