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Scintillating sitar on a Sunday morning

Scintillating sitar on a Sunday morning

KARACHI: No matter what mayhem is created by fellow countrymen, life, indeed, goes on in the City of Lights. When I called Ayla, the moving spirit behind the All Pakistan Music Conference, to confirm if the sitar recital by Farhan Khan hosted by the APMC on Sunday morning at Lyceum was still on, she said that it was too late to change the date.

I went to bed with a nagging feeling that people would not turn up for two reasons: it was happening the very next day of the widespread disturbances in Karachi, and also the fact that the day was a Sunday, meant for NOT leaving the bed so early. In any case, we are not used to listening to music, particularly classical music, so early in the day!

But people did turn up at 10.30. The audience comprised both very senior citizens as well as young people who were treated to one of the best sitar recitals of a morning raag. Farhan, son of the great sitar maestro Ustad Rais Khan, had an eye infection and an injured finger, but what a brilliant performance he gave!

As per APMC tradition, the programme began on time with presentation of raag Charukeshi

As per APMC tradition, the programme began on time with presentation of raag Charukeshi by Farhan’s younger brother Huzoor Hasnain and Ritika Dhanja, the young girl from Hyderabad and the last shagird of Ustad Rais Khan.

Next came Farhan wearing dark glasses and said that if he was looking like a rock star he must apologise to the audience — but it was on account of an eye infection! It was nice to see Farhan in a cheerful and confident mood and I wished his father was alive to see this. His performance was a treat for ears otherwise subjected to a lot of painful notes emanating from the electronic media round the clock.

Since most music concerts in Karachi are held in the evening, music lovers do not get an opportunity to listen to early morning or pre-noon ragas such as Bhairon, Ahir Bhairon, Gunkali and Tori, Desi, Jaunpuri, etc. Farhan played Mian Ki Tori, a raag of the Tori thhath.

The structure of this raag in the ascending and descending order is Ni, Sa, Ga, Ma, Dha, Ni, Sa and Sa, Ni, Dha, Pa, Ma, Ga, Re, Sa — the notes Re, Ga and Dha being komal (flat). His execution of all aspects of the raag: alap, jore, bilampat, drut, jhala was superb. He was accompanied on the tabla by the well-known and senior tablanawaz Shabbir Husain Jhari. Farhan later played Bhairween.

In order to reach the venue on time I had missed my breakfast and though fully satiated by rooh ki gheza, went to have breakfast at the Boat Basin and joined the crowd 10 times larger than the audience at Farhan’s recital enjoying pait ki gheza. The food I consumed there with fellow citizens was greasy pooris and cholay — an anti-climax.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2017

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