Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Bet Both Ways: Ghulam Ali and Asha Bhosle

It is hard to name two bigger and influential stars in sub continental music than Asha Bhosle and Ghulam Ali. 

Asha Bhosle

The former, along with her sister, Lata Mangeshkar, one of the two incontestable Empresses of Indian film music, has recorded over 12,000 songs and acknowledged as the ‘Most Recorded Singer’ by the geniuses at Guinness Book of World Records.  But her contribution is measured by far more than the sheer quantity of her output. In an extraordinary career she has not only recorded some of the most memorable film songs but made records of pop, ghazal and avant garde disco (see an earlier post) and jazz with some of the world’s finest ensembles and artists.

Ghulam Ali

For his part, Ghulam Ali, has for more than a generation, occupied the summit of his chosen profession.  Though classically trained and an outstanding vocalist he has arguably done more to create one of the most commercially successful and widely loved styles of music, the popular ghazal than any other single person.  While Mehdi Hassan is probably better regarded by the cognoscenti Ghulam Ali’s place in the hearts of critics and the people is unassailable. Making a definitive count of the number of outstanding and timeless ghazals he’s gifted to the world would trouble a maths professor.  

You could say the place these two have carved for themselves in South Asian music is akin to that of Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra in the American popular music.

Tonight’s selection is a cassette I picked up in the crowded streets of Calcutta before it was known as Kolkatta.  Herein each sings a couple of their more famous ghazals and then come together for some very nice vocal jugalbandi-ing.
In a region where citizens rarely mix with their cousins across the border (yet can be the closest of friends when they are in a third country) both Asha and Ghulam Ali have huge and loyal fan bases in each other’s country.   Makes you wonder what the world would be like if singers, instead of politicans, ran the show. But obviously the manufacturers were just looking to appeal to two markets with one product!

            Track Listing:
            01 Dayar-e-dil ki raat mein charagh sa jala gaya
02 Hangama Hai Kyon Barpa
03 Dard Jab Teri Atat Hai To Gila Kis Se Karen
04 Phir Sawan Rut ki Pawan Chali Tum Yaad Aaya
05 Gaye Dinon ka suragh Lekar kidhar se aaya kidhar gaya woh
06 Awargi
07 Dil Dharakne ka sabab yaaad aaya
08 Nainan Tose Lage

Listen here.

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