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KARACHI, Dec 23: Whoever believes that the art of ghazal singing has breathed its last should have been at a concert at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture on Saturday night where Indian vocalist, and a disciple of Begum Akhtar, Rekha Surya sang some known ghazals in her distinct style and entertained the not-so-discerning audience for more than 90 minutes.

The audience were told at the outset that Rekha Surya would sing her own compositions. The singer set the tone of the gig with Jigar Muradabadi’s ‘Ik lafz-i-muhabbat ka adna sa fasana hai’ and immediately let the listeners know that she’s a well-trained performer. It is never easy to set Ghalib’s words to music. But Rekha Surya’s version of ‘Dil se teri nigah jigar tak utar gaee’ was a worthwhile effort. Her stresses on the qaafias were noteworthy.

She followed it up with Maulana Hali’s ‘Hai justuju ke khoob se hai khoob tar kahan’, perhaps in a natural progression because Hali was Ghalib’s student.

The special feature of the rendition was her understanding of the playful tone of the words. After that the singer changed the ‘feel’ of the concert and presented Amir Khusrau’s ‘Ay ri sakhi ab piya ghar aaey’. Rekha Surya did not seem to be comfortable with talba player Ustad Bashir Khan’s effort in the composition and kept instructing him intermittently in the performance.

Her return to ghazal mode was marked by ‘Donon jahan teri muhabbat mein haar ke’ by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Next up was ‘Tere ishq ki inteha chahta hoon’. She sang it with the right mood and employing the correct modulations.

Her experiment of using Amir Khusrau and Mirabai’s verses in the same composition also sounded pleasing to the ear, as did a light classical number, ‘Haal doley mora’.

Rekha Surya’s selection of ghazals was top-notch because not many people present ‘Kuch yadgar-i-shehr-i-sitamgar hi le chalein’ by Nasir Kazmi with the understanding that she showed while performing it. But then her fondness for Amir Khusrau too was infectious. The singer’s version of ‘Chhap tilak sub chheen’ was as peculiar as they come.