Ustaad Ghulam Ali needs no introduction. Considered by many as the finest ghazal singer of this era, he is noted for renditions like Chupke Chupke Raat Din, Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa, Kal Chaudhvin Ki Raat Thi and many others. "I am grateful for the love people keep showering on me," says the humble singer. Ali, who was recently in town for a programme in memory of late Jagjit Singh, talks to CS:
Who: Ghulam Ali
What: Talks about his love for poetry
Where: At a suburban hotel
Down memory lane
My first memory of Jagjitji goes way back to 1976. I was performing at a private programme in London, and Jagjitji and Chitraji walked in. The first thing that Jagjitji did was to hug me. He was a very fun loving, friendly and warm person. We have done a lot of shows together, and have shared some great concert memories. He had a naughty sense of humour and loved pulling my leg. Jagjitji was one of the most soulful singers I have ever known. Amongst his compositions, my favourites are Har Ek Baat Pe Kehte Ho and Sarakti Jaye Hai Rukh Se Naqaab.
I love poetry. Being a ghazal singer, poems and poets are a part and parcel of my life. Both Pakistan and India have given birth to some great poets, so there is so much for us to enjoy and admire. I love poets like Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Nasir Kazmi and Naseer Ahmad. Their works equally stimulate the heart and the mind. And who can forget Mirza Ghalib? He has influenced ghazal singers across generations. The importance of good literature should never be under estimated. As you define a person by his fashion sense, good literature defines a society or culture.
From the heart
The thing with ghazals or Sufi songs is their emotional content. A successful ghazal singer is one who can touch the hearts of the listeners time and again. But then, to be a good ghazal singer, you need to have a good understanding of classical music. People tell me that I manage to vary my style every time I sing. I think it's a gift from God. At the same time, I need to give credit to my strong classical background and training. I'm really grateful for all the love that's come my way.