An Old Tradition in the Land of the Pure: Hafeez Khan Talwandiwale



Some years ago I posted a recording of some dhrupad singing from one of my favorite gharanas, the Talwandi. You can read about the history of that gharana and its connections with Pakistan (as well as download the recording) here.

While some have pronounced the Talwandi gharana extinct it does still live and the last surviving keepers of this dhrupad tradition are the brothers Mohammad Afzal Khan Talwandiwale and Hafiz Khan Talwandiwale.  To read a bit more bout this dhrupad tradition from Western Punjab check out this article by Khalid Basra and Richard Widdess.

Today’s music is from a live concert at Lahore’s Chitrakar Studio in which Hafiz Khan takes pains to explain various aspects of the ragas he performs.

Hafiz Khan presents a distinctive ideology of dhrupad, in which Islam 
entirely replaces the Hindu frame of reference adopted by most dhrupad 
musicians (both Hindus and Muslims) in India. Nayak Khanderi and the 
Nayaks who succeeded him were all Muslims, according to Hafiz Khan, and 
they received their inspiration directly from God; there is thus for 
him no element of folk or temple music in the historical background to 
dhrupad. The distinguishing characteristic of alap and dhrupad is 
their spirituality (ruhaniyat), and the objective in singing them is 
zikr-e-ilahi, “Praising the name of God”. Thus in place of the mantra 
“om ananta narayana hari om” used by Indian dhrupad singers in alap, 
Hafiz Khan sings “nita tarana tarana Allah tero nam”; even the word 
alap derives, in Hafiz Khan’s opinion, from “Allah ap”. Training in 
alap is divided into four stages called sari’at, tariqat, haqiqat and 
ma’rifat : these are named after four stages of successively deeper 
mystical experience and understanding — respectively, “Islamic law”, 
“way, path (to enlightenment)”, “truth”, and “knowledge”. (Basra and Widdess)

Enjoy this rare and excellent recital.


Track Listing:

  1. Patdeep
  2. Multani
  3. Kafi Khwaja Ghulam Farid




Other logs from the fire: Lollywood

Although I’m guilty of the crime as much as anyone, I really don’t like referring to the Mumbai-based Indian cinema industry as Bollywood.  It rings false, as if it somehow were not serious, frivolous and needs to be associated (linguistically) with Hollywood to be legitimate.  But most of all, it is the narrowing of the frame of what defines an Indian film that makes me most uncomfortable. India is full of regional cinema with some of the world’s most acclaimed directors working in non-musical based cinema.

But, hey. This is a world and an epoch that demands a label. So we say Bollywood.

The next few posts will be about the other pieces of ‘wood’ in the cinematic fire of South Asia. Starting, today with India’s immediate neighbor and cousin to the west, Pakistan. Pre-Independence, the cities of Lahore and Karachi had lively studio complexes that produced films in the local languages (Punjabi, Sindhi, Gujarati) and indeed, many of the great heroes of what everyone now considers Indian (Bollywood) movie history had their start in these centres. Mohammad Rafi, Noor Jahan, C.T. Atma among the singers; Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and the Kapoor dynasts among the actors and directors.

Even before Independence in 1947 the consolidation of the film industry had begun however, with Calcutta losing its preeminence to Bombay and Lahore, Dacca and Karachi losing much of their talent to what would soon become the ultimate film city of Asia.  Come 1947 and Partition, the film industry was not spared the wrenching decisions that the rest of the country’s Punjabis, Bengalis and northern Muslims faced; to stay or go ‘home’.

Many leading lights, especially Noor Jahan and Manto, did opt for Pakistan. Over the 50s and even into the 60s others followed hoping perhaps that their careers would get a boost by helping to rebuild an industry.  This sometimes happened, and sometimes not. Making films in Pakistan in the 40-50s was hard work. Money was scarce and investment hard to come by. Some found artistic freedom restricted compared to India. This feeling increased in the 70s with the advent of Zia ul Haq’s , let’s-make-Pakistan-more-Islamic, campaign.

Others with more knowledge have written about the history of Pakistani cinema, which is now referred to as Lollywood, thanks to the centre being the studios of Lahore. A good article is posted elsewhere on this site.

Today I share an album with the fairly straightforward name of Best of Pakistani FIlm Songs.  This is a delightful record because it is instantly familiar and  yet very different. The familiarity comes from the styles of music, the poetry and the motifs which are identical to those used in Indian film music of the time (60-80s). But the voices are refreshingly new. No Rafi, Kishore or Mukesh. No Lata, or Asha.  Rather we are treated to the silky chords of the likes of S. B. John, Irene Parveen, Habib Wali Mohammad, Surraiya Multanikar and Masood Rana.  And we are treated to the elegant strains of Iqbal Bano,  Noor Jahan and the vamp-queen Sab se Bari, Nahid Akhtar.

Lollywood lived and barely survives today in the long and deep shadows of not just Bollywood but its own recent lively past.  But that should not be seen as evidence of its inferiority. Indeed, as others have shown, some of the coolest, funkiest most daring pop styled film music was born and bred in Lollywood.  Today, and for many years now, some of the most adored voices in Indian pop music and playback are Pakistani.  So, let’s simply clap our hands and say, shaabash.  Here is some top stuff from Lahore!

Track Listing:

01 Tu Jo Nahin to Kuchh Bhi Nahin [S.B. John] (Savera)

02 Agar Tum Mil Jao [Tasawwar Khanum] (Imandaar)

03 The Yankeen Keh Ayen Gi Ratan [Nahid Akhtar] (Suraiya Bhopali)

04 Allah Hi Allah Kariya Karo [Tahira Syed]

05 Tu Lakh Chale Ri Gori [Iqbal Bano] (Gumnaam)

06 Ulfat Ki Nai Manzil Ko [Iqbal Bano] (Qatil)

07 Barre Be Marawat Hain [Suraiya Multanikar] (Badnaam)

08 Ratain Thi Chandneen [Habib Wali Muhammad] (Baazi)

09 Yeh Alam Shauq Ka [Tahira Syed]

10 Jab There Shehr Se Guzarata Hoon [Sharafat Ali Khan] (Wada)

11 Itne Bade Jahan Man Koi Nahin Hamara [Irene Parveen] (Maa Kay Aansoo)

12 Allah Hi Allah Kiya Karo [Nahid Akhtar]  (Pehchan)

13 Muddat Hui Hai Yaar Ko Mehman [Noor Jahan] (Ghalib)

14 Aye Mausam Rangeelay [Zubaida Khanum] (Saat)

15 Tumhi Ho Mehboob Mere [Masood Rana]  (Aaina)