Imran Aziz Mian performs a qawwali at Lok Virsa on Friday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim
Imran Aziz Mian performs a qawwali at Lok Virsa on Friday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim

ISLAMABAD: On Friday night, Lok Virsa opened its doors to pay tribute to Aziz Mian Qawwal with a qawwali steeped in Sufi devotional music and a euphoric environment.

“This is how it should be. Every legendary artists should be remembered and given tribute,” the late qawwal’s son Imran Aziz Qawwal - who performed at the event - said.

The enthusiasm of the qawwali night bolstered Mr Aziz and his troupe as they warmed up, softly tuning their instruments before bursting into full-throated performances.

Over the next hour or so, the audiences heard their repertoire of much-loved classical qawwalis, including favourites such as Mun Kunto Maula, Ya Nabi Ya Nabi and Teri Soorat.

Mr Aziz won praise for his soaring vocals, and the event was even more remarkable for the appreciation from the audience.

His rendition of Main Sharabi in particular received a rapturous response.

This was the first time Lok Virsa arranged a tribute to the late qawwali singer, some 17 years after his death, and event organisers said this was therefore a special night.

One of the audience members, Anis Jilani, said he had heard Mr Aziz for the first time and admired the rhythmic quality of the compositions.

In between renditions, Mr Aziz spoke about his father’s kalam, which were mostly produced himself.

“His kalam was his character,” Mr Aziz said.

Some in the audience also reminisced about the old times. Mujahid Khan, who had heard Aziz Mian Qawwal perform, said Friday night’s qawwali took him back several years.

“Imran Aziz breathes fresh life into the ancient form while preserving and even enhancing qawwali’s essential, indomitable spirit,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2017