Talat Aziz: I don't listen to noisy songs, if you sing a ghazal with understanding then you will connect with its soul

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale - Senior Editor
10 Min Read

Talat Aziz, everyone's favourite in the world of Ghazal, does not miss any opportunity to add to the beauty of his Ghazals even today. This is the reason that whether he goes to the North or the South, a crowd of Ghazal lovers gathers to listen to him. Recently he came to Lucknow. When we started talking to him about his attachment towards Lucknow, the conversation reached to Ghazal lovers, true artists, understanding of Ghazal, understanding of tune and those who took training from Ghazal emperor Mehdi Hassan. Here is a special conversation with him.

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I cannot say where I will find lovers of Ghazal

Wherever lovers of ghazals gather, the atmosphere becomes different. I am lucky that only real listeners come to listen to me, not those who pass time. By the grace of God, today I have completed 44 years. If I talk about the people who listen to ghazals today, I cannot tell where I will find them. I found many listeners in Bengaluru, Visakhapatnam, Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. If you look at it, time keeps coming and going in the world. I have a recording of 30 March 2024. We had a stage show in Bengaluru. The hall was packed. This was a ghazal by Umrao Jaan. As soon as she started, the audience sitting there started humming it in unison. I started the ghazal 'Zindagi jab bhi…' and the audience sitting there started singing the next line 'Teri bazm mein lai hai humein, yeh zameen chaand se bechar nazar deti hai humein…'. Then I myself clapped for those fans.

The audience will be attracted to the true artist

Every music has its fans. Yes, it is true that where the older generation gave ghazals to the younger generation, that love will remain in them and they will keep giving it to their next generation. See, the point is that music should be presented in the right way, I am not saying that everyone listens to ghazals, it is only a few people. Sometimes I ask the youth how do you remember the ghazal of 'Umrao Jaan' even though it is from 1981. How did you listen to it? So they tell me that our grandfathers, fathers, mothers keep listening to it and it keeps reaching our ears. We like these ghazals. The important thing is that listening is also an art. Like classical singing is not everyone's cup of tea and neither is it easy to understand it after listening. For example, I used to go to classical singer Rashid's concerts. There were youngsters as well as seniors. They used to come only after being influenced by something. If someone is a true artist and he sings something then the listeners are definitely drawn towards him. Similarly, there are many new artists these days. I request everyone to do whatever work they do with all their heart and honesty. The audience will like the one who shows honesty in his art. Now comes the trend. The most important thing is that there should be a tune. The tune is the most important thing. Everything else comes only after the best tune.


Ghazals should be sung with understanding, not by memorizing

If we talk about today's time, there are many good artists, they are good that's why all are famous. See, if I take the name of Sonu Nigam, he has also become senior now. He is about 50 years old. He is junior to me and I respect him a lot. Today there is no artist like him. Shaan is like a younger brother but now apart from him another generation has come which is making its own path. This is the rule of the world, nothing ends anywhere. If you look at it only from the perspective of ghazal, then understanding of the language is required to sing it. It should not be sung just by rote, it should be sung with understanding. If you sing with understanding then you will connect with its soul.

Now you can understand how to tune in

I don't listen to noisy songs, nor do I know about them. As far as impressing is concerned, there are only two things. First, I don't listen to them and second, I am not interested in them. I mean, it is not that I am demeaning them. If I did not sing a good ghazal from 'Umrao Jaan', why would people listen to it. What is the reason to listen to it? Am I not bored of singing it for 40 years? But when I sing it, I add more beauty to it. This comes from experience. Similarly, there are good artistes in today's generation, who are singing in sur. I pray that after some time they also reach that level. As my Ustad Mehndi Hassan sahab used to say, look at the sur. I did not understand how to see the sur. You can feel the sur, you can hear it, but how can you see it? Today, after so many years, I remember his words. I also teach. Today when I teach my disciples with my eyes closed, I see something. Sight means, you cannot explain it physically, no face comes, it creates an aura and it has an impact. I understood this after so many years. I am getting a lot of benefit from teaching. There were many compositions of mine or others, which I used to sing earlier. Now I analyze them. I teach and if they do not understand, then I tell them to break it into pieces and sing from here to there. They say that if you had not told us this, we would not have been able to do it. I said that because of you, I am also able to understand this thing more.

Mehdi Hassan himself asked me to get a Ganda tied

Mehdi Hassan heard me for the first time in 1977 and asked me to get a Ganda (a thread or amulet tied by a Guru to accept a disciple) tied on me. I was young at that time. His youngest son Faizan lives in America. He says that according to me, Abbu never asked anyone to get a Ganda tied. People used to interrupt him but he used to avoid it. You are the only person who himself asked you to get a Ganda tied. This relationship ended. Then a long journey began. I spent time with him, did programs with him. I learned a lot. I spent time with him, became friends, he was a Guru, I learned a lot in his company. In the year 2000, there came a time when his health was not good. He said that you sing with me, I forget that I have his recordings, which no one else has. A Ghazal singer like him has not been born till date. The special thing about Mehdi Hassan sahab is that his family belongs to Dhrupad and Dhamar. His ancestors did not sing ghazals. Mehdi Hassan sahab presented a bouquet of ghazals by incorporating classical colors. After that came Jagjit Singh. He made it more light, so that the common man could enjoy it. Introduced a slightly lighter version, added theka and introduced instruments. His tunes were simple but good. Salim Arif and I wrote the entire script on how the ghazal started. Where the ghazal started in India and how far it reached, this is also a separate project. Work is still going on on this.

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