|the-south-asian.com DECEMBER 2001|
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"Visaal, means coming together. We chose this name because it signifies not only the coming together of two personalities, but is the union of two minds, two souls, two cultures and more importantly of two great nations." - Ghulam Ali
-Says Ghulam Ali In An Exclusive Interview
Recently in Delhi for the release of his latest album Visaal (Coming Together) penned by another maestro Gulzar, the singer spoke at length about his love for Urdu poetry, the cultural bonding that artists like him have managed to create between two estranged nations and also on his latest album and how he roped in one the most sensitive poets India has ever produced….
Ghulam Ali, the singing sensation has enthralled audiences all over the world for almost four decades now.
How does it feel to have an appreciative audience like you had today?
GA: Everywhere in the world I am heard with love and affection. But I personally enjoy singing in India. Though some people may not understand some of the chaste Urdu words but they know most of my popular ghazals verbatim. It's a great feeling. Singing for an Indian audience is a unique experience. They are true connoisseurs. As far as audience in England, America and Canada go, they have to be explained the meanings of certain words.
What about your fans in Pakistan?
GA: As you know Urdu is our zabaan. So in Pakistan things are entirely different. No one has to make an effort to understand the words of my ghazals. There I believe people say that if you haven't heard Ghulam Ali you've heard nothing. I may sound pompous but the fact is that in Pakistan they only listen to me when they want to enjoy a good ghazal.
In these strained times how do you think an artiste like you can help better relationships between India and Pakistan?
GA. Music transcends all geographical boundaries. I have admirers on both sides of the borders, for whom I am neither Hindustani nor Pakistani, but simply a singer. For me personally it is a great honour that through my songs I have managed to bring the people of both countries closer and I will continue to do so.
Just like you there are many pop groups from Pakistan who have tremendous fan following on both sides of the border. Tell us something about the role that they are playing and also about there singing?
GA. As far as fan following is considered it is good that pop groups too have been trying to cement ties between the two countries. But, frankly I am really bewildered at their style of singing. How can you sing a song by running and jumping around the stage? The stage is meant for performing not for acrobatics.
Do you feel ghazal is more superior to other forms of singing?
GA. Ghazal requires lot of riyaz and training and a thorough knowledge of classical music. Nobody, wants to spend so much time nowadays, every one is after quick bucks.
Which is your favourite forum?
GA: There's no question about it. Singing on stage is a sublime experience because you get an instant reaction. When the audience appreciates you they reward you right there with their applause. Can there be anything more satisfying for a creative person?
You've been singing for almost 40 years. Has there been any change in your style since then?
GA: Yes it's been 40 years or say all the years of my adulthood. The difference is that my voice has matured and I have learnt a lot. I've sung in front of different audiences around the world and feel far more confident than I did in my early days. In short I feel that I have matured considerably. I've become more God-fearing and feel that my talent is God's grace. Now when I sing well I feel I am communing with God.
As a great ghazal singer you follow the conventional style - you don’t like to experiment much?
GA: You see, experimenting with ghazal means experimenting with words and music. If you have been following my style, I keep innovating. For me ghazal is very serious matter, singing each ghazal is a new experiment.
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