Mar 12, 2009

Homage to Shah Latif The recital was the first of many planned to coincide with The DAWN Media Group’s initiative to release a collection of compact disc’s of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s kalam sung by Parveen, as well as a new translation of the epic Ganj-i-Latif.
Before Abida Parveen took the stage, the organisers gave the audience a taste of things to come, with Shah’s kalam being read out before it was sung. Ms Dilshad Mirza read out the Sindhi original of Sur Kalyan — which preaches patience and peace — while Pakistan Herald Publications’ CEO Hameed Haroon read the English translation.
Though the aching and longing that is the hallmark of Shah’s poetry was manifest in the readings, when Abida took the stage at around 10pm — aided by the Shah’s fakirs — she opened new shades of meaning through her masterful vocal delivery.
Even if one’s Sindhi was far from perfect, her nuanced intonations made sure the language barrier did not stand in the way of appreciating the soulful kalam.
After a nearly 20-minute long recitation of Sur Kalyan, the fakirs left and were replaced with Abida’s own backing musicians.
It was interesting to note that other than the traditional instruments usually associated with Sufi/classical musicians, at Saturday’s performance Abida had brought along a violinist, a keyboard player as well as a set of chimes.
Along with Shah Latif, Abida Parveen paid homage to other names renowned for their gnostic poetry, including Hazrat Amir Khusrau and Hazrat Shah Niaz Beniaz Barelvi. Amongst the immortal kalam recited was Amir Khusrau’s Chashme maste ajabe, Shah Niaz’s Ishq mein teray koh-i-ghum sarpe liya, jo ho so ho and Yar ko hum ne ja baja dekha as well as Mehr Ali Shah’s Kithe Mehr Ali.
Talking to Dawn later, Hameed Akhund, one of the organisers of the recital, who is also playing a key role in the upcoming release of the CDs and translation, gave further details about the project.
‘About four to five years ago, Abida recorded 30 Surs sung at Shah’s darbar. Some of these have become almost extinct. She did not charge for performing.
The CDs were made and they will soon be released and launched by Dawn. We will try and market them internationally.’
When asked why they were working on another translation of Shah Latif’s Ganj, Akhund said the existing translations do not reflect the true spirit of Bhit Shah’s renowned mystic’s kalam.
‘The present English and Urdu translations do not reflect Shah’s Sindhi originals. The standard English translations are insufficient.’
He added that the project will be ready in about five to six months. Just as during Saturday’s event, the CDs will contain Sindhi and English readings by Mirza and Haroon respectively, while Abida Parveen will render the poetry in song.

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