I've been maintaining this blog (for better or for worse) over the last eight years. Over these years, its natural evolution has led it into becoming something of a niche place for discussion of music in general and Qawwali in particular. Rather than trying to return my existing blog to its pre-Qawwali eclectic roots, I decided I’d start anew on Tumblr. So if you’re interested in music, Qawwali and subcontinental culture, keep reading/listening/watching/commenting here. For all of the above and everything else under the sun, head on over to my Tumblr page .

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

...Of A Week In Rehab

A week ago, when my finals were cut short mid-way and I was sent home because of the deteriorating security situation, I was none too pleased. This was in contrast to most of my classmates who thought that after a tough and slightly dispiriting start to the exams, a break was just what the doctor ordered.I however, didn't like a break in the tempo that I had grudgingly built up over the previous 20 days or so, plus I thought of a 10 day hiatus as only dragging the misery to beyond stretching point. On top of that, the elaborate plans I'd made for the post-exam holidays were in danger of getting mangled, most importantly the biannual pilgrimage to Lahore.

Therefore, I came home grumpy and planned to stay that way for the duration. There was, naturally no plan to study the first few days, and I was hard-pressed to come up with something to do over these ten days. I knew I could read two or three books over the next 5-6 days, but 20 days buried nose-deep in books had put me off the printed word for a while. Going out was out too, with every day bringing news of further bloodshed.

That's when I decided to go on a binge.

I have been downloading movies incessantly over the past six months or so, and with supply dwarfing demand, a huge backlog had built up. Plus I had several new ones on download too. The problem I have with movies is the same one Bill Bailey has with jokes, I lose commitment and tend to bail out on them. I have stacks upon stacks of DVDs, each chock-full of stuff I've downloaded but haven't had the time or the perseverence to sit through them. This was the perfect time however, to take the plunge. I substituted my 18-hour study sessions with 18-hour movie marathons, re-watching old favorites and discovering new ones. It is safe to say that I have absorbed more genius (and done more irreparable damage to my eyes) in the last 5 or 6 days than I've done ever before.

Now, as I head back to my hostels to get back to the nitty gritty, I can take stock of all the stuff I've watched and congratulate myself on so successfully flushing all the medical nonsense of the last 20 days clear out of my head, leaving me fresh and ready to finish the task ahead.

Here then, in a semi-organized form, is a list of everything I've watched in the last 6 days.If anyone wants a copy of any of these, I'd be very happy to oblige, after my exams are over, of course.


1. House MD, Season 6, Episodes 1-5

2.Parks & Recreation, Season 2, Episodes 1-5


4.Coraline,Henry Selick

5.The Nightmare Before Christmas,Henry Selick

6.Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea,Hayao Miyazaki

7.Mien Liebster Friend-"My Best Friend",Werner Herzog

8.La Salaire De La Peur-"The Wages Of Fear",Henri-Georges Clouzot

9.The Battle Of Algiers,Gillo Pontecorvo

10.Do Bigha Zameen,Bimal Roy

11. The Apu Trilogy,Satyajit Ray

12. Awara,Raj Kapoor

13. The Usual Suspects,Bryan Singer

14.Glengarry Glen Ross,James Foley

15.Network, Sidney Lumet

16.Double Indemnity,Billy Wilder

17.High Noon,Fred Zinneman

18.Tenacious D in The Pick Of Destiny,Liam Lynch

19.A Fish Called Wanda,Charles Crichton and John Cleese

20.Ryan Giggs-True Red

21.Barton Fink,The Coen Brothers

22.Fargo,The Coen Brothers

23.O Brother! Where Art Thou,The Coen Brothers

24.Airplane, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker

25.Observe And Report,Jody Hill

26.Office Space,Mike Judge

27.The Apartment,Billy Wilder

28.My Man Godfrey,Gregory La Cava

29.The Third Man,Carol Reed

30.Rear Window,Alfred Hitchcock

31.King Kong(1933),Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Shoesdack

32.Frankenstein,James Whale

33.Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956),Don Siegel

34.Cool Hand Luke,Stuart Rosenberg

Cheers, and do spare a prayer for my exams !!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

....Of Splendid Isolation And Selfish Indulgences

 One of the (many) perks of having a blog with limited readership is that I can indulge myself without having to worry about alienating/impressing/provoking a sizable number of readers. I'm sure the 4 or 5 people who do occasionally glance at my blog won't mind if I post what are quite possibly my three favorite Youtube videos of all time. Actually it's two videos,with one split in the middle.

  First off, here's Ustad Salamat Ali Khan singing one of Baba Ghulam Farid's kaafis in Raag Sindhi Bhairvi. What makes this video priceless is first of all the performance, with Ustad sahab clearly enjoying every wonderful note and Shaukat Ali Khan giving some inspired accompaniment on the tabla. But the icing on the cake is the audience...Ashfaq Ahmed sahab, Shahnaz Begum, a very young Pervez Mehdi, Ghulam Ali, Rajab Ali, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and a clearly emotional Masood Rana....and the way they respond to every nuance, every embellishment of the performance. I've been watching this performance at least once a day,every day for the past two months, and I have no plans of quitting.

Next comes another classical performance, from the same TV show;Nikhaar, that used to air during the mid-seventies from PTV Karachi,hosted by Ashfaq sahab and with the choice of audience just as inspired as the performer. The performers are the incomparable Ustads Amanat Ali-Fateh Ali Khan singing "Kab Aao Ge Tum Aao Ge", accompanied once again by Shaukat Ali Khan on Tabla before an audience comprising Ashfaq Ahmed sahab, Asha Posley, Ghulam Ali,a very animated Shaukat Ali, Nasir Kazmi, Qateel Shifai and Mallika Pukhraj. The contrasting styles of the two brothers fuse perfectly to define the Patiala andaaz of gayeki. Another bit of essential daily viewing, this video is made more poignant by the fact that this was Ustad Amanat Ali Khan's last recorded performance before his very untimely death. One can only imagine what more magic these two brothers would've created together, given the chance....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

بہار ...

پھر لہو رنگ ہوئی ہے میرے گلشن کی بہار 
آگ برسی  ہے پھر اس باغ  کی  سیرابی کو 

برق اتری ہے ہر اک بام سے، ہرغنچے کا لب
پھر  سے  دہرانے  لگا   قصّہ  بیتابی  کو

لالہ  و  گل  کا  یہ رنگ ،  نوحہ  سرا  یہ  بلبل 
یہ  سماں  اہل  چمن  کے  لئے  نیا  تو  نہیں 

لیکن  اس درد  کا  یوں  حد سے گزرتے جانا 
 روز  اک  سروِ  قد   افروز  کا  گرتے  جانا

یہ تو ممکن ہے کہ اس درد سے  بے حس کردے
لیکن  اے اہلِ  چمن ،  بے حسی  دوا   تو   نہیں

اب کے  جس  طو ر سے  یہ  خونیں گھٹا اٹھی ہے 
یہ  تو  ممکن  ہے ذرا  دیر   سیاہی  ہو  گی

پر  نہ  گھبراؤ ، بہت جلد اسی   باغ  سے  ہی
لاکھوں  قندیلیں  لئے،  اہل  چمن   ابھریں  گے

بلبلیں پھر سے سنائیں گی وہی پیار کے گیت
دامنِ شب پہ ستاروں کے گہر بکھریں گے

اور ان سب کی ضیا، درد کے ماروں کے لئے 
ایک  بے  داغ  سویرے  کی   گواہی   ہو گی