An eventful evening with Syed Sarwat
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
It is said that music is the medicine of the mind and poetry is the music of the soul. Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life and poetry is said to be all that is worth remembering in life.
To borrow Laura Simoes, what poetry and music do to the mind must only be experienced, and such experience is complacent to not only transcend entertainment, rather acquiesce the listener to substantiate a state of wholeness … in mind and body.
The discovery of song and the creation of musical instruments both owed their origin to a human impulse which lies much deeper than conscious intention: the need for rhythm in life… the need is a deep one, transcending thought, and disregarded at our peril. (Richard Baker)
Perhaps this correlation between Music and Poetry, prompted Tashie Zaheer, President of the Urdu Academy of North America, to hold a unique music-cum-literary event dubbed as “an evening with Syed Sarwat.”
It was a wet night of January 22, 2010 when this colorful evening was held at the Chandni Restaurant in Newark, CA. I was astonished to find that my friend Syed Sarwat is not only a successful entrepreneur but also an excellent singer.
When words leave off, music begins. The musical session of the program began with a beautiful rendition on Sarangi by well-known Bay Area community leader, Dr. Abdul Waheed Siddiqui. It was a great honor for the music lovers that Dr. Siddiqui appeared at the show despite his ill health. He drew wide applause with his marvelous presentation of a classical rag. Listen Sitar I II
Syed Sarwat was next to show his singing talent. He captivated the audience with the singing of many popular ghazals such as:
- Jis musawwir ka shahkaar ho tum, usne, sadyoun tomhe socha hoga
Chahne wale tomhe aur bhee honge laiken, itni shiddat se kisi ne na chaha hoga
- Rafta rafta wo meree hasti ka unwaa’n hogaye
Pehle ja’n phir jaan-e-jaa’n phir jaan-e-jaanaa hogaye
- Zindagi me to sabhee piyar kiya karte hei’n
Mai’n to marker bhee meree jaan tumhe chanhoonga
Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader or listener recognizes as his own. This was best reflected in the above ghazals as well as poetry of Mirza Ghalib.
Syed Sarwar drew wide applause with his presentation of Ghalib’s two well-known ghazals:
- Ah ko chahiy’e ik umr asar hone tak
Kaun jeeta hai teree zulf ke sar hone tak
- Hazaro khwa heshei’n aisee ke har khwahish pe dam nikle
Buhut nikle mere arma’n magar kam nikle
A number of amateur artists also studded the musical evening. Dr. Naureen Khan and Mrs Javaid Ajaz captivated the audience with a popular Punjabi song: Toar Punjaban Dee. Ranjeet Singh and Sultan Ali Karimi also thrilled the audience with high-pitch popular film songs.
Another instrumental music performance was given by Ustad Satish Gadagkar who amused the audience with an excellent performance on Violin. Tunes of popular old film songs were greatly appreciated by the audience.
Listen Violin I II
Laughter is the Best Medicine
It is said that humor and laughter lightens your burdens, inspires hopes and connects you to others. No doubt, good humor is a tonic for mind and body. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. This was best reflected in the two humorous presentations in Punjabi by Naveeda Ellahie and Jawed Ajaz.
The title of Naveeda Ellahie’s hilarious poem was “Pande Dho” (Wash Dishes) which drew wide applause as the hall was filled with laughter. Often, it is not important what you say but how you say it. Ms Naveeda’s action-packed delivery of her unique poem was very amusing and witty. Her poem was also a subtle satire with comparison of domestic life in USA and Pakistan.
The theme of Jawed Ajaz’s humorous work was a very common family problem: Buddi Thalle Laga (Zan Murid: Wife’s Sarvant). His poem also well resonated with the mood of the audience and drew wide applause and acclaim.
Earlier the program began with the recitations of three ghazals by Tashie Zaheer. Besides presenting his own ghazal, he also recited the famous ghazals of Maulana Chiragh Hassan hasrat and Noshi Gilani. Afif Siddiqui also presented his ghazal.
Orchesta is a significant part to make any musical program successful. Ali Shahbuddin, Composer and Music Director, was at hand on the keyboard. It may be noted that Ali’s brother Kaleem Shahbuddin is a famous Music Doctor in Pakistan. Gurdit Singh was on Tabla and Vijay controlled the sound system.
Music and poetry connect human beings to each other in that they allow us to share each other's perceptions, emotions, and experiences. A gifted musician and poet may capture creatively what we feel but cannot express ourselves and creates a complete rapport with the audience. This was witnessed in the musical-cum-literary evening when the audience remained captivated to the sound of music and words.
The audience was not in a mood to end the program that was reluctantly ended by about 1.30 AM.
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