In the great chilled winter, a great many seek intoxications; some from alcohol, and some from culture, music, and religion. The recent 'Rang-E-Khusro' evenings held at the Indian Habitat Center in New Delhi, proved to be a total intoxicator for the romantic, a dive into local Sufi culture, fulfillment for the souls deprived of poetry, and a view that goes beyond the usual scenarios of life today. Poetry, classical music, and a taste for the works of Hazrat Ameer Khusro, brought together a sizable audience in the cold of the Delhi winter, very suitably disguised by the enchantment of artistic display. For a wanderer, this was home-coming in the purest form.
SAKSHI and SIET, organizations run by Dr. Mridula Tandon, organized the 2 evenings focusing on the works of Hazrat Ameer Khusro- the spiritualist, poet, scholar, musician. In times when electronic sounds and mashed up multi-lingual lyrics dominate what one hears everywhere, the ghazals and nazm penned by the Sufi poet, proved exactly how deprived we all are, for spiritual fulfillment through music and poetry.
Dr. Sudeep Rai on the sitar with Ustaad Rashid Zafar Khan on the tabla
Nazim Naqvi's voice on the mic, combined with his intricate mastery of the art of ashaar, was exactly what was needed during the event, to keep the audience totally captivated within the ambience of the hall. One of his most memorable lines from the evening was, "Doston ye dilwalon ki mehfil hai.. jinhe husn se pyaar hai, ishq pe aitbar hai aur sach puchhiye to yahi sansaar hai."
Ustaad Rashid Zafar Khan
Some prominent faces including Dr. Sudeep Rai, Dr. Mridula Tandon, Vaishali Rai, Ustaad Rashid Zafar Khan, and Nazim Naqvi
Very seldom to people get treated to the culturally famed 'Ganga-Jamuni' tehzeeb, and Rang-E-Khusro did that to perfection.
Ustaad Shakeel Ahmed
The evening which followed the 'Rang-E-Khusro' event was called the 'Kalam-E-Khusro'. The performances were dedicated to the poetry and music created by Hazrat Khusro, and his mastery of multiple languages, including Farsi, Urdu, and Khadi Boli. The star attraction was the vocals of Ustaad Shakeel Ahmed, who is known to be prominent name from the Delhi gharana of music. His training at the hands of masters like Ustaad Zikr-ur-Rehman, Ustaad Zameer Ahmed Khan, and Ustaad Zaafar Ahmed Khan, was ably displayed on the mic with his renderings, like 'Duma-Dum Mast Kalandar'. He is someone who has an illustrious career to boast of, with performances with names like Asha Bhosle, Illyaraja, Munni Begum, and Kader Khan.
The vocals were perfectly supported by the voice of Vaishali Rai, who began the evening with her rendering of 'Piya ghar aaye'. Several of the numbers which were later sung, had her join in the duet with Ustaad Shakeel, adding to the memories of this artistic Sufi evening.
Ustaad Syed Rehman Khan
Every musical masterpiece needs able people to don the musical instruments. One such maestro was Ustaad Syed Rehman Khan on the Sarangi.
Ustaad Salim Ahmed Khan
Being of the firm belief that great vocals in Indian classical music can need the coupling of great tabla music, Ustaad Salim Ahmed Khan proved exactly how and why. Being a very humble individual, he attributes his mastery of the tabla to the almighty. Indeed, a commendable trait for someone who has been known for decades for his performances.
Anees Ahmed (keyboard)
The entire group performing together during Kalaam E Khusro
The sights and sounds of the evening won't escape from the minds of the audience for a good length of time to come. Those who were present in the 2 evenings of soulful classical Sufi performances, were indeed amongst the lucky few, who had a chance to relive culture and music in such renderings.
All the maestros in a single frame
Here is to the mastery of Hazrat Ameer Khusro, and the treasures he has left behind. Till then, sounds of 'Duma-Dum Mast Kalandar' still ring in the ears. Apologies for the bad photography in some of the pictures!