KARACHI: A rocking performance by singer Sanam Marvi and a fine piece of jugulbundi between sitar player Ustad Nafees Ahmed Khan and tabla nawaz Ustad Bashir Khan were the highlights of the final day of the fifth music festival organised by the Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi at the council’s open air theatre.
The evening began with legendary Mehdi Hasan’s pupil Ikram Mehdi’s arrival on stage. He sang his mentor’s famous numbers and warmed up with a ghazal ‘Jo chahte ho so kehte ho’.
It was a decent act given the meter of the ghazal and the intricacy of the composition. But the singer has to keep in mind that singing in the style of the iconic Mehdi Hasan is no mean feat, and he knows it, because the legend had a different background and a different training regime.
If Ikram Mehdi only wishes to pay homage to him by singing his songs, then he can carry on with it the way he wishes. Anyway, he then sang ‘Mujhe tum nazar se’, ‘Ik sitam aur meri jaan’, ‘Koo bakoo phael gaee’ and wrapped up his stint with ‘Jis ne merey dil ko dard diya’. One felt for the singer when he complained about the smoke which billowed out of nowhere every now and then as part of the stage setting as if it was a pop concert. He said it parched his throat.
Next up was folk singer Sanam Marvi. She came with her team of musicians and set the tone of her gig with the first track, Shah Latif’s ‘Parchan shaal pawar’, a composition that a couple of years back catapulted her to national fame. Her next song was a sort of medley in which she combined couplets by Bulleh Shah, Shah Husain and Hazrat Ameer Khusrau. Her version of ‘Tere ishq nachaya’ had the thumping sound made famous by the great Abida Parveen, and when she presented ‘Arey logo tumhara kia’ it imparted a more spiritual touch to her performance.
Ms Marvi went on to sing well-known folk tunes such as ‘Yaar daadhi ishq’ and ‘Mahi yaar di’ and a ghazal ‘Jab se tu ne mujhe’ and finished off with the heartwarming ‘Laal meri pat’. It has to be said that while the singer has no shortage of talent and is potentially the next big thing on the Pakistani music scene, she must try and do original tracks composed either for her or by herself. Singing senior musicians’ songs will take her forward in her career to a certain extent, but to carve her own niche she has to use original material.
The jugulbandi between Ustad Nafees Ahmed and Ustad Bashir Khan was on a totally different wavelength. Both men proved their mettle by showing to the audience the various colours of notes used in raga charukeshi.
The last performer of the festival was eminent vocalist Ghulam Abbas. He sang quite a few ghazals, including those sung by Mehdi Hasan such as ‘Dekh to dil ke jaan se’ and ‘Ranjish hi sahi’.