Friday, December 23, 2016
SOUND FOR THE SOUL
The Wadali brothers, considered disciples of the eminent classical vocalist late Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, bring the power of a classical vocal approach to the lyrics of the greatest saint poets of India. By Jigyasu Joshi
They say that the greatest things come in simple packages. That may be why the Wadali brothers, capable of rising to ecstatic spiritual heights, come across as simple village folk. “Tera naam naam, tera naam naam naam…” The sense of their musical message is hard to miss. “You who have so many names…we have built a temple here, a mosque there, a church there…and we barricade ourselves…what have we done? Wiser than us humans is the bird, that flies from mosque to temple without prejudice…” It’s not just what they sing. It is their way, the way of the wayfarer one might say. They live some, they learn some, they share some and they laugh some.
The brothers, considered disciples of the eminent classical vocalist late Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, bring the power of a classical vocal approach to the lyrics of the greatest saint poets of India - Bulle Shah, Kabir, Amir Khusro, Surdas…the list is long and holistic.For many, a performance means a show, in which you demonstrate your strong points and camouflage the weak ones. For the Wadalis, though, a performance is just an extension of something they do every day: sing of the greatness of the one supreme being, called the Beloved by the Sufis, Ram by some and Allah by others. The Beloved has as many names as there are people to worship, and the brothers from the village of Guru ki Wadali in Punjab are more than happy to sing them all.In the greenroom prior to their performance, the air was heavy with expectation. But the singers and their entourage of young singers and instrumentalists are nowhere in sight. Do they plan their concerts beforehand, one wonders. “We never prepare beforehand,” affirms the younger brother, Pyarelal. “When we go on stage, we gauge the mood of the audience and start singing. If the audience is the kind that wants to dance and jive, what would be the point of singing a slow song?”
But it would seem today’s audiences mostly do want to jive, since those who have the stillness of mind and patience to listen to long alaps are in the minority. How then can an artiste of today reconcile the world of the spirit to which classical music takes one, with the demands of the material world? At the mention of “today”, Pyarelal stated, “Today’s artistes are not interested in learning. They bring out a cassette first and start learning music later. One has to learn for at least 10-15 years and then come out to perform.”That bought him to the point that music today has become a visual rather than an aural medium. “There is no kaan ras (that which pleases the ears) these days. There is only aankh ras (that which caters to the visual senses). There are pretty girls dancing and everyone is looking at the girls, and no one thinks about the song. There is bhakti (devotion) in this kaan ras.” He added that this is the reason why he and his brother consider the Radio as Khuda ka ghar, as it is not about visuals but voice and voice only. It is part of musical history that All India Radio first brought them to prominence. “Only then we came to television. Radio is what has made us,” Pyarelal said happily.
Does the level of musical or literary understanding affect the brothers’ performance? “Koi farq ni padta (It makes no difference to us),” said Pyarelal. “We sing for our Gharib Nawaz (as Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishty, their spiritual mentor is popularly known). We have but to sing with honesty.”In an era of packaging, their crystal clear honesty seemed to be their hallmark. Like when Puranchand mentions, “I am 78 now, but I have never seen a film. I never wanted to sing in films either, although now they have made us do that too.” And when asked whether he finds that tough, he said, “The only tough part is memorising the lyrics, as we are not educated.”
Later, on stage they sing, “Na namaaz aati hai, na wuzu aati hai, sajda kar leta hoon jab saamne tu aata hai (I don’t know how to read the scriptures, I don’t know the rituals; but when you appear before me, I prostrate myself.)” Pyarelal said into the mic, “This applies to the two of us. We didn’t go to school.”In a world where great artistes are showered with honorary academic degrees and flaunt the “Dr” before their name, here are doctors of the soul.
Photo: Himanshu Jangid
Forwarded By:Jainender Nigam,PB NewsDesk ,firstname.lastname@example.org