Sunday, November 21, 2010

Faiz's 26th Death Anniversary - A Noor Jehan Tribute

Faiz Ahmed Faiz died 26 years ago yesterday (November 20th, 1984) aged 73. Over the years, regardless of whether governments tried to suppress his poetry or to promote it, his hold on the Pakistani literary culture has never flagged. In addition to the seemingly eternal relevance of his poetry to the Pakistani masses, Faiz was also fortunate to have had his works performed by the greatest Pakistani vocalists of the twentieth century. Malika Pukhraj, Farida Khanum, Mehdi Hassan, Amanat Ali Khan and of course Iqbal Bano all have signature recordings of Faiz's kalam.

However, starting with "Mujh Se Pehli Si Mohabbat Meray Mehboob Na Maang", Noor Jehan came to be identified as the voice of the revolutionary poet in captivity. Faiz is said to have heard Noor Jehan's rendition in prison and permanently dedicated the ghazal to her. With the possible exception of Iqbal Bano's "Hum DekheiN Ge", Noor Jehan's original version of "Mujh Se Pehli Si Mohabbat" is the ghazal that most reverberates in the Pakistani popular imagination.

As a tribute on Faiz's anniversary, here is a version of Noor Jehan singing this ghazal live. The video is old but I love the quintessential Noor Jehan you see in this performance.

Here is another personal favorite of Noor Jehan singing Faiz: "Tum aaye ho na shab-e-intezaar guzri hai"

Woh Baat Saare Fasane MeiN Jis Ka Zikr Na Tha
Woh Baat Unko Bohat Na Gawaar Guzri Hai

Photo: Faiz with the Chilean 1971 Nobel Laureate poet, Pablo Neruda


Zakintosh said...

Faiz's 100th birthday will be celebrated in 2011 and our Government has named the year as the 'Faiz Year'. Every city and many towns will have events all through the year, including some by us at T2F. We will post our videos up, too. I am sure you and your readers will enjoy them. If you are coming to Karachi next year do let us know in advance so that an event can take place while you are here.

Fawad Zakariya said...

Zak, I may be there so will definitely let you know. Glad that the year is being celebrated with multiple events in different cities.

billoo said...

Fantastic blog, Fawad.



Fawad Zakariya said...

Billoo, thanks for visiting and for the compliment.

Anonymous said...

Hello. I am enjoying the post that you wrote about Noor Jehan on Faiz's death anniversary right now, on Noor Jehan's death anniversary. I am far from Pakistani :), but I love them both.

That live performance of "Mujh Se Pehli Si..." is great, but there is a much clearer video of it available, and it is in color:

IMO, the performance should be viewed as clearly as possible, because, in addition to sounding beautiful, Noor looks pretty cute. (She still has some great expressions here, reminiscent of the times when she was a stunning Bollywood and Lollywood actress, a few decades earlier.)

Anyway, I like your blog and I am looking forward to more good posts.

Fawad Zakariya said...

Richard S, happy to know that you like both Faiz and Noor Jehan. They are cultural gems. I hope that you are able to read or understand them in Urdu, irrespective of ethnic origin. So much context simply doesn't translate well. Always fascinating to hear from people who have such catholic cultural tastes!!

Anonymous said...

Fawad, sorry, my Urdu knowledge is very limited, so I must depend mostly on translations. With Noor Jehan, that voice is wonderful to listen to no matter what the words are (the primary reason for my being a fan), I am very captivated by her screen presence from the '40s and '50s, and I have been impressed by seeing her in interviews and such (translated, of course).

With Faiz, I like to think I am still getting some of the beauty of his poetry through those translations :), and I appreciate his social contribution and, well, his socialism.

I could attribute some of my cultural tastes to several years of residence near lots of Indian and Pakistani CD/DVD stores in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City. I could also attribute some of my affinities to an old Pakistani girlfriend. But mainly, I've had the pleasure of being exposed to many cultures through living in a global city, for which I am grateful (even if some political and economic powers are trying their best to ruin everything). And, of course, there are blogs and YouTube...

Fawad Zakariya said...

Richard, I visited your blog and was incredibly impressed by your knowledge of "Indian" music and cinema. Given that much of it started as osmosis in Jackson Heigts without the advantage of knowing Hindi/Urdu is all the more remarkable. Keep up your great work!

Talat Afroze said...

December 31st, 2010.
Dear Fawwad Zakariya Bhai:
Assalaam Alaikum. I am a big fan of Majeed Amjad since 1977 when I bought and started reading Shab-e-Rafta kay Baad…. during my college days at Forman Christian College, Lahore.
I have just launched my web site ( dedicated to modern Urdu poetry. Majeed Amjad will be the central attraction of my web site! I am also working on a screenplay depicting the life of this great poet.
Your father, Mohtaram Dr. Khawaja Mohammad Zakariya is my hero since he compiled Kulliyaat e Majeed Amjad which was published by Mohtaram Khalid Shareef of Maawaraa in 1988!! (As an aside, Dr. Zakariya is also my distant Uncle since my father (Khawaja Mohammad Shafi) and the recently deceased Mrs. Shaista Kirmani (wife of Ahmad Saeed Kirmani) were first cousins.)
But that is beside the point.
The real reason I am writing to you is to have my request forwarded to your father. Dr. Zakariya noted in the preface to Kulliyaat e Majeed Amjad (p. 33) that he received a very valuable “register” or journal from Mr. Abdul Rasheed (the person who compiled Shab e Rafta kay Baad, the collection that came out immediately after Majeed Amjad’s death) . This journal or manuscript contains the entire early poems of Majeed Amjad. Due to space and time constraints, Dr. Zakariya only selected some of the poems from this early manuscript for publication in the Kulliyaat of 1988.
I would like to request Dr. Zakariya to kindly make the contents of this journal/register/manuscript available to serious fans of Majeed Amjad. The best way would be to use a Hewlitt-Packard or HP scanner (priced around $80) and convert all of the 500 or so pages of this manuscript containing all early poems of Majeed Amjad into pdf files and upload it onto a web site so that everyone can gain access to it. I would like to offer my web site as a repository for this invaluable literary treasure.
Please convey my message to your father. I can be reached via my email ( I look forward to hearing from you and especially from Dr. Zakariya.
I would be most grateful for any help you can provide in making Majeed Amjad’s early work available to his fans.
Warm regards
Talat Afroze, Toronto, Canada.

Fawad Zakariya said...

Talat Afroze Sahib, thanks for your note. I have sent an e-mail response to you on the e-mail address that you included.