Talal Wasif Qavi describes the illustrious career of a musical wizard
The much-celebrated of the one and only Ghulam Ali is a prodigy in his own right who carved out a separate niche for himself in the crowded musical galaxy of the subcontinent. Hailing from the famous Patiala Gharana Ghulam Ali learnt music from Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, an accomplished maestro of his age. He began his career as a tabla player but his singing talents soon took over. His mastery over harmonium is legendary and embellishes his musical renditions.
Ghulam Ali is widely acknowledged to be unique amongst a bevy of ghazal singers having command over variations in singing ghazals as he blends classical music effortlessly with the lighter versions of his singing. He is hugely popular in the subcontinent and Asian Diaspora around the world. Many of his hit compositions are utilised by film makers prominent among them being his unmatched rendition of Hasrat Mohani’s famous ghazal Chupke chupke raat din that is still a rage and is sung worldwide.
Ghulam Ali has released numerous albums of his renditions and his recent album “Hasratein” was nominated in the Best Ghazal Album category in 2014. Ghulam Ali started learning singing from Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in his early age and his illustrious teacher appreciated his talent when he sang an intricate number Saiyyan Bolo Tanik Mose Rahiyo Na Jaye. Ghulam Ali started his career by singing for Radio Pakistan Lahore and soon his variations in notes made him a much sought after singer.
His quality was that he emerged as a much popular singer despite not singing for the mainstream film industry. His initiative and popularity were later emulated by high level ghazal singers like Jagjit Singh and Pankaj Udhas. Though other artists followed his trend of independently popularising ghazal but the unique variation of his rendition was hardly mastered by any one. He made the intricate patterns of notes sound like child’s play though they were highly difficult to render.
He virtually covered every angle of his composition with ease and fluency and drifted between notes effortlessly. He also devised a fast rhythmic pattern for his compositions that gave his ghazals a racy popular touch. Many of his renditions became classic including Hungama hai kyun barpa, a light but spiritual ghazal of Akbar Allahbadi. His rendition of Nasir Kazmi’s Di mein ik lehr si uthi hai abhi is famous for the exquisite use of conveying emotional impact of the words with magical variation.
Initially he ventured into the classical pattern of ghazal singing but soon he invented his own style of singing that was far removed from the traditional singing. He got his rhythm with Mohsin Naqvi’s famous ghazal Awargi that became his signature tune. This composition is very intricate in nature and only a talent like Ghulam Ali could have rendered it effectively. He also sang semi-classical numbers such as Barsan lagi swan bundiyan aaja that is a vintage Thumri very nicely sung by Ghulam Ali. One of his outstanding renditions is Masroor Anwar’s Hum ko kis ke gham ne mara that is an exceptional composition delightfully sung. His rendition of Woh jo hum mein tum mein qarar tha is a classic composition on a complicated Rupak beat.
Ghulam Ali also popularised Punjabi singing and produced many hits such as his classic rendition of Mere shoq da nain aitbar tenoon, a translation into Punjabi of Ghalib’s poetry by Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum. His extraordinary rendition of Ni chamber diye bund kaliye is still considered a very popular number. His film number Pehli wari aj ona ankhiyan ne takya picturised on actor Shahid still reminds listeners of the tender emotions of youth. TW