Real Experience 100 years of music legend Begum Akhtar

Mumbai: If you have watched Dedh Ishqiya, you would have heard the famous ‘Hamari Atariya pe Aa jao Sawariya’ which was sung by none other than the queen of ghazal, Begum Akhtar.

Real Experience 100 years of music legend Begum Akhtar

To commemorate her birth centenary, an event has been organised at Vir Savarkar Auditorium in Dadar on November 30. Titled ‘Kahkashan’, the event will celebrate her compositions in Thumri, Dadra and semi classical hindustani genre, and also have a variety of performances in various languages, where the audience can get to experience Sufiana Kalaam and contemporary Urdu poetry.

Born as Akhtari Bai on October 7, 1914 in Faizabad district of western UP, Akhtari developed a passion for singing at the age of seven when she was mesmerized by Chandra bai’s singing, who visited the town with her theatre group.

After her marriage to barrister Ishtiyaq Ahmed Abbasi, who belonged to a royal family from Lucknow, she was rechristened Begum Akhtar. After marriage, upon being forbidden to sing, she was dejected and fell ill. For five years, she was forced to break away from her passion, after which she finally chose music and resumed singing, at the advice of her doctors.

Shakil Warsi, who is the event organiser as well as its compere, spoke highly of her work. He said: “She brought ghazals from the kotha to the kothi. She brought Urdu poetry to the concert stage and every artist is indebted to her. With this event, we bring forth her compositions, besides contemporary poetry in various languages like Urdu, Hindi, Brij, Avadhi and Persian brought in by Amir Khusro 800 years ago.” Warsi will explain and translate every performance by singer Sraboni Chaudhuri.

Taught by Thumri queen Shobha Gurtu, whose Rangi Saree composition was used in the movie Gulab Gang, Sraboni will sing many of the great classics of Urdu poetry, namely Meer, Ghalib, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Momin, Shakeel. A variety of Sufiana Kalams and contemporary poems will also be performed.

She said that the music in Begum Akhtar’s era was heavily influenced by melodies and Ragas, as people liked hearing it. “We are trying to demystify classical music, as it can be enjoyed by anybody and good poetry is relevant, irrespective of time,” she said.

With century-old poems making their way into mainstream films and commercials, Warsi feels that the public is hungry for good quality language and Urdu is making a steady comeback. “There are TV channels these days that air Pakistani soaps, which are a big hit. Doordarshan is also doing a lot this year to commemorate Begum Akhtar. There are various shows happening in the city and even accomplished Ghazal singers are bringing the youth into this fold and encouraging them. The government has also taken initiatives and are holding competitions across the country in Begum Akhtar’s memory. With this show, we wish to give quality entertainment and deliver classics at an elevated level,” he said.

Kahkashan – Nov 30 7.45 pm
Vir Savarkar Auditorium,near Mayors bungalow, opp Shivaji Park, Dadar (02224465877)
tickets ranging from Rs.200 – Rs450
Contact: Shakil Warsi- 9004511948