HYDERABAD: The pitch for peace was possibly never more melodious, more devotional. At the Aman Ki Asha concert held at the beautifully-lit Chowmahalla Palace here on Saturday, it was the magic of Sufi and the message of love that reverberated in the 200-year-old monument even as citizens who thronged the venue swayed gently, clapped and prayed for `aman’. Setting the score for the mystic evening were two immensely talented artistes, Rekha Bharadwaj and the `mehman’ from Lahore Sanam Marvi.
That the concert was a much-awaited event was evident from the long queues that had formed outside the Chowmahalla Palace entrance much before the concert started. “I have come here not only for my love for Sufi music but also because I do believe that music can break barriers and bring about peace,” said a hopeful homemaker, Anita Dhawan, a resident of Lakdi-ka-pul, as she stood in the queue eagerly awaiting to embark on the musical journey of peace.
Many left the first World Cup match between India and Bangladesh to make it for the concert, which they felt was their way of expressing faith in the peace process. “The message of peace is more important than the match. So we decided to come here,” said cricket buff R Suneesh of Deloitte.
In tune with the concept of `atithi devo bhava’, Sanam Marvi was invited to perform first. The petite looking 25-year-old surprised everybody with her robust voice, the melodious tunes transcending the listeners to another level.
Performing a string of Sufi numbers, Marvi had the audience in a trance with her rendition of Amir Khusrau’s `Chaap tilak sab cheeni mose naina milaike’ or even Punjabi Sufi poet Bulle Shah’s `Tere ishq nachaya’. Marvi, looking stunning in a mustard kurta and green salwar, went on to perform another `kalam’ by Bulle Shah `Main Janu mera maula jaane’, which had the audience clapping, cheering on the young singer, who had made her debut in India only last year at the Sufi music festival Jahan-e-Khusrau. And it was her `Parchan Shaal Pavaar’, a duet she has originally performed with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, that had Hyderabadis break into `wah wahs’, admiring the singer’s mesmerising voice that held their attention for a good one hour, when Rekha Bharadwaj made an entry.
The two singers from two sides of the borders melted the boundaries in seconds as they teamed up for a rocking jugalbandi of `Damadam mast kalandar’. The duo set the stage on fire as Bharadwaj’s husky, earthy voice with an unmistakable tinkle, blended with Marvi’s powerful voice. If peace was the message of the evening, it was `tehzeeb’ which both Indians and Pakistanis are famous for, that was the clear tone. If Rekha Bharadwaj greeted her Pakistani concert partner with `main dil se tumhara saath doongi (I will accompany you with my heart), Marvi sat in the audience to clap and cheer as Bharadwaj performed, who incidentally dedicated her first Sufi number `Tere Ishq Mein’ to Marvi.
With lyrics by Gulzar and composed by Vishal Bharadwaj, `Tere Ishq Mein’ is from Rekha Bharadwaj’s first album `Ishqa Ishqa’ released in 2004. As she moved gently on the stage, swaying to the beats in her black dress with white sequins created by Nikhil (of Nikhil-Shantanu), Bharadwaj took time off singing to thank the `Aman ki Asha’ initiative of The Times of India and Jang group to give artistes like her an opportunity to be part of the peace process. She went on to give her tribute to acclaimed late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan with `Tere bin nai lagda dil mera’, after performing the title track of `Ishqa Ishqa’. And of course, the crowds did not let go of her without getting `Raat ke dhaai baje’ (Kaminey) and `Sasural genda phool’ ( Delhi 6) among her other hit numbers.
The setting of the evening could not have been better. Washed in many hues was the Chowmahalla monument, standing tall and bright, and providing the perfect background to the performing artistes were the glittering chandeliers that date back to the Nizam’s time. If the palace is famously known to be a synthesis of many architectural styles, on Saturday evening it saw two diverse styles of Sufi performances but with a common message __ of love and peace.
“But then even Hyderabad reflects the message of `Aman ki Asha’. There are so many communities from different religions coexisting here,” said Priyanka and Mohnish Shah, an IT couple living in Secunderabad.
Watching the magical performances from a huge distance was the full moon, shining bright on both the countries represented on stage in a mystic evening.