Farida Khanum Sings Faiz

13 February 2015
Farida Khanum in a concert, with the poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz (second from left).
courtesy Farida Khanum
Farida Khanum in a concert, with the poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz (second from left).
courtesy Farida Khanum

To commemorate the 104th birth anniversary of Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz today, Ali Sethi, who wrote about singer Farida Khanum in our April 2014 issue, compiled a selection of ghazals in which Khanum puts Faiz's poetry to song.

Faiz wrote ‘Chaand Nikle Kisi Jaanib’ (Let the Moon Appear) for a friend who had died unexpectedly, and asked Farida Khanum to sing it for him. She recalled a thumri by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in Manj Khamaj and adapted it for the ghazal. This recording was made in Karachi. Faiz is present; you can hear his expressions of approval in the background.

‘Na Ganwao Nawak-e-Neemkash’ (Don't Waste Your Slightly Poisoned Arrows) is a haunting poem written from the perspective of a hunted hero. Faiz wrote this in the 1960s for his leftist friends who were being harassed, arrested, tortured and even killed by the dictatorial former Pakistan president Ayub Khan’s military government. This recording is from a 1980 concert for PTV. Khanum set it to the twilight raag Puriya Dhanashri. General Zia-ul-Haq was in power at that time.

‘Yun Sajaa Chaand’ (The Moon Appeared) is Faiz’s Matissean love poem, a celebration of the sensuous and tonic pleasures of poetry. Khanum interpreted it after listening to Ustad Salamat Ali Khan’s rendition of raag Rageshri. This is from a mehfil in Lahore some two years after Faiz’s death in 1984.

Read Ali Sethi’s profile of Farida Khanum, ‘The Djinn of Aiman,’ published in our April 2014 issue, here.

Ali Sethi is a musician, and the author of the novel The Wish Maker. He lives in Lahore.

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