The album, Apna Muqam Paida Kar, comprises of eight songs by artistes;
Humaira Arshad, Ali Raza, Shabnam Majeed, Jawad Ahmad, Fareeha Parvez,
Abrar-ul-Haq, Masuma Anwar and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.
Released towards the end of 2006 after the album's launch ceremony
at Hazoori Bagh in Lahore, the album has been produced by Iqbal's
grandson, Yousaf Salahuddin (who has also composed a majority of
the album' songs), Mekaal Hasan (the sound engineer) and Farhan
Albert (for the album's arrangement).
The album opens with 'Lawh Bhi Tu', sung by Humaira Arshad and comes
as a bit of a surprise. Reason being, Humaira manages to sound vocally
steady and powerful without overbearing the song.
In 'Digargun' Ali Raza's classical vocal deliverance comes without
hardly any effort, as his alaaps quiver, flow and soar quite naturally.
The song is a wonderful one as its overall sound manages to sound
almost nostalgic and pained somehow.
The album is one fitted for ears which tilt in appreciation of authentic,
classical music, and eyes that smile upon reading pure, Sufiana
poetry on love and spiritual journeys. Apna Muqam Paida Kar will
not 'grow onto' the listener after a casual listening or two…it
must be felt – and the listener must be familiar with Iqbal's
history, works and sufism. This is not to imply that the listener
should have a PhD in the subject, still, a little awareness of the
subject and theme wouldn't hurt.
Shabnam Majeed's delivery of 'La Phir Ik Baar' is a treat. What
a golden, canary voice the girl has. In fact once you hear her sing
the first few verses, you are reminded of Lata Mangeshkar. Sings
Shabnam, "My flask of poetry held the last few drops/Unlawful,
says our crabb'd divine, oh Saki/Who has borne off Love's valiant
sword?" And, "Verse lights up life, while heart burns
bright, but fades/For ever when those rays decline, oh Saki/Bereave
not of its moon my night, I see/A full moon in your goblet shine,
The tracks that follow by Jawad Ahmad, Fareeha Parvez (her song's
composition by Farida Khanum and Yousaf Salahuddin) and Abrar-ul-Haq,
are also beautifully sung but it is Masuma Anwar who truly outshines
in 'Tujhe Yaad Kya'.
Masuma's voice is captivating and words would hardly do her any
justice if at all - but the throaty timber of her voice is in a
league of its own, just as the way Abida Parveen enthralls her audience,
so does Masuma.
She sings, "Have you forgotten then my heart of old/That college
of Love, that whip that bright eyes hold?/This is a strange world,
neither cage nor nest/ With no calm nook in all its spacious fold."
'Diyar-i-Ishq Mein' by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is a classic qawwali
number, which strikes a powerful, and inspiring equilibrium. Singing
with the josh required for passionate qawwali songs, Rahat belts
out, "My songs are the grapes on the spray of my vine/Distil
from their clusters the poppy red wine/The way of the hermit, not
fortune, is mine/Sell not your soul! In a beggar's rags shine!"
With guitars by Salman Albert and Sajjad Hussain, the satrangi by
Khawar, flute by Muhammad Ahsan Pappoo and tablas by Baloo Khan
and Babar Khanna – Apna Muqam Paida Kar is truly, a collector's
Pakistan's 'softer image' (so to speak), has been aided by classical
music maestro's Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen and others
(who have sung, and continue to sing traditional Sufiana verses
of poetry). Their songs not only promote the arts and poetry, but
also a particular ideology – a way of life, a way of the 'dervaish'…that
is a simple, yet spiritually rich one.
The NCPS's album, Apna Muqam Paida Kar is an acknowledgement and
tribute in honour of not only Allama Iqbal, but also in reverence
to the Sufi way of life.