On Ghazals

The fascinating thing about a ghazal is that it lives a thousand lives. Each time it is sung, it assumes a different form. It draws from the languor of the audience, or from the acoustics of the venue. The same ghazal sung by the same singer ends up sounding different on almost every different occasion. And thus it is that the ghazal celebrates a moment, rather than a lifetime. Unless of course you’re the kind that lives an entire lifetime in a moment. Or something like that. (Late evening ramble.. please excuse).

Take Faraz‘s wonderful Ranjish Hi Sahi. The trouble with this beautiful ghazal is that it is rejected for being too common. Every singer tries their hand. But how much pathos must you pour into lines that declare this – That even animosity is welcome to torment the heart. That a lover must return even if to leave again. So you have these two versions that can appeal to entirely different degrees of pathos and angst. Or the sultry appeal of Runa Lalila in another take.

See, that’s the other trouble with ghazal. It’s dramatic. Every bosom is heaving. Every heart is sinking. Every drop is potent. Every moment is fleeting. Nothing is trivial. You need to be able to celebrate melodrama to enjoy a ghazal. For in ghazal, even the act of slipping on a banana peel acquires the tone of the universe conspiring against the self. No wonder ghazals appeal to me.

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4 Responses to On Ghazals

  1. Silence says:

    Agreed. The interesting thing about listening to ghazals is that like any other art work, there is a different interpretation each time you listen/read/see it. The interpretation depending solely on your current state of mind.


  2. Amit says:

    Ghulam Ali once sang –

    Rooh jab wajd mein aaye to ghazal hoti hai
    ya koi dil ko lubhaye to ghazal hoti hai
    gham-e-jaana hi se maukoof nahi sher-o-ghazal
    gham-e-dauraaN bhi sataye to ghazal hoti hai….

    the interesting thing, as silence points out, is that interpretation of a ghazal is always your own.. because you never know what the shayar meant or what his/her mood was while penning it down.. Example – Har-ek-baat-pe-kehte-ho-tum-ki-tu-kya-hai (Mirza Ghalib)


  3. suparna says:

    and then there are these two versions ..


  4. RS says:

    Hi Neha,
    i’ve been a regular visitor here but delurking now. I love this song too – the emotions and the meaning. I’ve written about this song too but definitely not so well! 🙂


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