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Published on 24 December 2012
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I met Madam Ji for the second time at the Tai Wah restaurant on Main Boulevard in Lahore. She was having dinner with a large group of people. I went up to her to introduce myself and she asked me to join her party. There were about thirty, or so, guests at the long dinner table and I recognized poets Parveen Shakir, Qateel Shifai and Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi. Madam Ji was, of course, the center of attention. The topic of discussion was poetry and she was holding her own, reciting her favorite couplets by Daagh, Sauda, Ghalib and Faiz. I found out that she was very fond of poetry and wrote herself, as well. She recited a ghazal she had recently written in the Hazaj Musamman Saalim behar which I found very charming due to its simplicity and innocence. I remember a few couplets from the ghazal even today.

ُ
      ‫جسے تم دیکھ لیتے ھو وہی دیوانہ بنتا ہے‬ ِ
  ‫زرا سی بات بھی کر لو تو ایک افسانہ بنتا ہے‬
‫تری آنکھیں، یہ تیرے لب، ترے رخسار، یہ قامت‬
                                    ُ
        ‫جہاں بھی تم چلے آؤ وہیں میخانہ بنتا ہے‬

The party went on for hours, well past the restaurants closing time. All through the evening, Madam Ji led the conversation in chaste Urdu and demonstrated a knowledge and understanding of poetry rivaling that of Lahore's literati. Everyone present wanted her to sing and she relented towards end of the evening. She sang Khawaja Khurshid Anwar's Saagar Roye Lehrein Shor Machaien from Koel (1959), improvising the song with new taans and behlavas, for a good ten minutes. The restaurant was almost empty by that time. Madam Ji's voice filled the hall and floated over all of us. The recorded song is loosely based on raag Shudh Sarang but flirts with raag Des as well. Madam Ji displayed her knowledge of both that evening.

Khawaja Khurshid Anwar's song employs meends as the preferred alankaar mostly eschewing taans. The mukhra of the song illustrates a perfect meend traversing the whole saptak, executed flawlessly by Madam Ji without even a hint of strain on the vocal chords. At the end of the piece with the words Nainan Bhar Aaiyen, she executes a swift and subtle four note murki getting back to Nikhad in the mandar saptak to start the mukhra. Her execution is masterful.

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Dedicated to Priya

Priya Gainneos

We are a group of volunteers trying to make a site in honour of Madam Noorjehan probably the greatest singer-actress ever to grace the silver screen. It is dedicated to the memory of one of Madam's biggest fans the late Priya Gainneos. Priya, we are sure you are up there listening to Madam live in heaven. May your soul rest in peace and May God give your family and friends the strength to bear the loss. We can never forget you.Thanks a lot to the Hamaraforums founders for making this dream of Priya (to have a site in honour of madam) come true.

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