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Song to heal the world

Ghazal singer Talat Aziz talks about the changing trends in the music industry, his social work and a forthcoming album with ZIYA US SALAM

PHOTO: P.V. SIVAKUMAR

LENDING VOICE TO A CAUSE Talat Aziz learnt music from the maestro Mehdi Hassan

It is not easy to strike up a conversation with Talat Aziz. His words are measured, his voice barely above the audible. His tone gentle. He hails from a time when laughing aloud was considered impolite. He is polite almost to a fault.

He has been off the radar of music lovers here for quite a while. That, however, does not mean that he has been lying low. Instead, he has been carving out his own niche, his own way, far away in the distant North America, giving the youngsters a platform to hone their skills. All along cloaking his frustration with the remixes.

Of course, every now and then, he flies back home. At times for a recording, at others to lend his voice and name to a social cause.

For instance, CanSupport, an organisation dedicated to the cancer patients. Touched by the motive, Talat flew down to India, sang a few of his choicest ghazals, and shared his thoughts.

"I have been associated with various social benefit activities for a long time. I am happy to do my bit for CanSupport, but really a lot needs to be done."

Ghazals fading

Yes, a lot needs to be done for the ailing and the deprived, but a lot needs to be done for arts too.

"Fair enough. Like every art form ghazals are dying. Here everything is connected with Bollywood. The media focus has shifted to other more interesting titbits. Then there is television that has taken over in metropolises. Now you have artistes being made one day and discarded the next day. Television is full of bimbo-bimbette scandals. Where is the space for creative fulfilment? But like water, everybody, every art, finds its own level. So, I branched out."

By branching out, he is obviously referring to going to the U.S. where he is busy imparting lessons to youngsters. "There are youngsters who are talented and hard-working. I have taken many of them abroad, and many have joined from foreign countries. This way we propagate our art abroad and also filter it down to the next generation."

But there are many youngsters back home who have taken to remixes in a big way?

"I don't blame the youngsters. When we guys were growing up, there was better atmosphere to flourish. There was a demand for quality fare. Now, it is instant gratification, instant popularity that is driving many," says the man who was groomed in the early years by Jagjit Singh.

This son of Sajida Abid, a popular Urdu writer, took his initial training in music from Ustad Samad Khan and later Ustad Fayaz Ahmed.

Music industry

After the initial training Talat decided to learn music from music maestro Mehdi Hassan. On many occasions, he shared the same stage with Mehdi Hassan during concerts in India and abroad.

"The music industry is not conducive to original work anymore. We get instant appreciation more where people still keep their mind and heart open for arts."

So, is it goodbye to Talat Aziz, the popular ghazal singer who once gave us Aeena mujh se voh... ?

Amidst reports that he is busy working with Khayyam again, he maintains, "I won't say that I have left the country. I have been working on a new album for some time, it is based on classy Urdu poetry. I am waiting for a music company for over a year to bring it out."

Yes, he might be soft-spoken, but never mistake his politeness for weakness of purpose.

Talat Aziz has his views on everything. And is busy spreading the fragrance of his music.

Really, Zindagi jab bhi teri bazm mein laati hai humein, ye zamin chand se behtar nazar aati hai humein.

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