KARACHI: A riveting Khanqahi Qawwali performance featuring Subhan Ahmed Nizami and his group delighted the audience on Saturday night at T2F that organised it as part of its music preservation project.

In her introductory remarks, Sabeen Mahmud, director of T2F, said: “Subhan Ahmed Nizami is a descendant of the Qawwal Bachchon Ka Gharana of Delhi. After migrating to Pakistan from Delhi in the early 1950s, the Manzoor Niazi Qawwaali group was formed, that included cousins Munshi Raziuddin, Bahauddin Khan, Manzoor Niazi and Subhan’s grandfather Iftikhar Ahmed Nizami.

As the families grew and reached almost 50 members, the cousins formed four qawwaali troupes. Iftikhar Ahmed Nizami, the eldest cousin, was extremely versatile and his Radio Pakistan concerts were highly sought-after performances. His son, Subhan’s father Afaq Ahmed Nizami, was the family librarian, a specialist of Farsi kalaam and was proficient in classical music. After his father’s sudden death in 1999, Subhan, then just only 18 years old, formed his own qawwali group to continue the legacy of his forefathers.”

Subhan Nizami and his group kicked off the three-hour long performance with an instrumental curtain-raiser ‘Naghma-i-Quddusi’ that is said to have originated at the Sama assemblies of Abdul Quddus Gangohi. He then started with the Hamd ‘Karam karam kay kareem kehtay hain’ in Raag Bhairon at first slowly and then shifted the tempo on a faster beat with ‘Allah Hu Allah Hu Ahsan Allah’ and later effortlessly launched into a 12-beat composition. ‘Ka toh say kahoun aye arab ke kunwar’, a lovely Purabi Naat, was presented subsequently by the group with skilful alaaps at various junctures.

The high point of the night was the Qaul ‘Man Kunto Maula’ rendered by Subhan Nizami outstanding for his display of sargam and tankari. Interspersed with Persian verses and accompanied by a range of taals the Qaul was much appreciated by classical music connoisseurs.

Subhan’s other brothers also displayed their vocal dexterity particularly Hilal Nizami in ‘Main toh toray damanva ki mala’ who has a powerful voice and proficiently played the dholak and tabla simultaneously and Bilal Nizami was superb in a manqabat sung in praise of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.

Persian verses composed by Amir Khusro such as ‘Nami danam che manzil bood’, ‘Chashm-i-maste ajabe zulf daraze ajabe’ and the ever popular ‘Chhaap tilak sab cheeni ray mosay naina milaikay’ were beautifully rendered. The night concluded with ‘Aaj rung hai ree maan rung hai ree’.

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