Caravan of Music
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In the sleepy, silent neighbourhood around Teen Murti Bhavan on Saturday evening, several VIP cars were headed to one destination, the house of Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of HRD, IT and Telecom. This was where the Urdu Heritage Caravan was holding fort with a promise of music and poetry. The "Caravan" is a concept by Justice Markandey Katju to promote the Urdu language and arts through conferences, seminars and events such as the evening's Shaam-e-Ghazal.
With several dignitaries reclining on cushions near the stage and occupying the front rows of chairs, singer Radhika Chopra set the mood with a qalam by Mirza Ghalib. Her mellifluous voice matched the serene surroundings, soaring, dipping and floating in the air. Works by Ali Ahmed Jaleeli, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Mohd Iqbal followed, eliciting wah-wahs from the crowd, especially Sibal and Katju. "I sing in the rawayati andaaz, the traditional style, and the language of the old poets is sometimes difficult for people in concerts to understand. This time, however, 95 per cent of the audience was well-versed in Urdu so I enjoyed myself thoroughly," said Chopra.
When the second singer of the evening, Imran Khan, took over one hour later, he brought alive the works of another set of poets — Daag Dehlvi, Seemab Sultanpuri and Firaq Gorakhpuri among others. The selection was simple and effective, and he powered the verses with his classical-trained vocals. Khan held the audience in his grip, even as snacks began to be served around the performance area.
Among those present at the event were Union Culture Minister Kumari Selja, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid, MoS for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla, State Minister Haroon Yusuf, historian Mushirul Hasan, dancer Uma Sharma and the German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner. "Shows and conferences of the Urdu Heritage Caravan will also be held in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Lucknow" says Asif Azmi, national coordinator of the "Caravan".
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