February issue 2002
Once More With Feeling
After a gap of nine years, Farida Khanum appeared once again in Karachi in concert. The event was a fund-raiser for Mohatta Palace and the venue one of the graceful pavilions of the palace. Ahmed Faraz was there in person to recite his verses and to listen to an accomplished rendition by the one and only Farida Khanum.
She began the evening with a bandish in Raag Aiman and then went on to sing a number of her own favourites, including the perennial Ranjish Hi Sahi. Faiz Saheb’s Toofan Bedil Hai Koi and the qawwali Kahan hai manzil-e-rahe-tamanna found an appreciative audience as did the lilting Sajan lagi tori lagan.
Farida Khanum’s public appearances have become rarer, and when questioned about this she said that perhaps people were no longer interested in her kind of music — “mahaul badal gaya hai”— so she felt it was better to retire from the scene. But the audience on that cold winter’s night proved otherwise. Not even the chill winter wind could drive away the music lovers who wanted to make the most of a rare opportunity and Farida Khanum responded to their pleas, keeping the concert going well into the night.
Mohatta’s hospitality could have extended to a hot cup of tea, and there were complaints on this score, but no one could deny the abundance of rooh ki ghiza !