Ghulam Ali Live : Pune Concert

Ghulam Ali Live : Pune Concert

Ghulam Ali ~ Live in Pune concert

2nd September 2007, Pune : It was a dream come true to listen to Ghulam Ali live in concert – and I have been waiting for this opportunity for so many years. I have been listening to his ghazals since last 14-15 years and know almost all of them by heart. I would always feel jealous about the people who had an opportunity to listen to him live and wondered if I would ever get a chance to attend his concert.

The D-day for the Pune concert was 2nd September 2007 and I was ready with my ticket well in advance. He was performing live in Pune after 15 long years – he himself mentioned while talking that last public performance in Pune was almost 15 years ago. He looked a bit tired (as he was traveling from Dubai and didn’t have much rest), but he’s an old charmer – handled all that quite well with his grace! As he mentioned, at that time (some 15 years ago) Pt. Bhimsen Joshi was the one who invited him on the stage and further said, “Aap logo ne to bade, bade logo ka gaana sunaa hai, mai to gaane ka student hoon!“. The charmer started his mehfil there…

The infrastructure at Ganesh Kala Mandal was poor and seating arrangement was pathetic and uncomfortable, and the program started late as well. The concert must have been attended by approximately 2500 people of various age groups. I had booked my ticket quite early in the highest category, but was a bit disappointed to see first 10-12 rows reserved only for VIPs & press – I must have given a jealous stare to each one of them. Anyway! 😉 Vaishali Varnekar was the hostess for the concert and though her Hindi was mostly correct, her pronunciation was typical Marathi. I am sure they could have found someone better with knowledge of ghazals to host the show! Doesn’t matter though – she didn’t speak much after introduction anyway! The people who accompanied him on violin, santoor, tabla are his regulars and travel with him everywhere. However, the person who accompanied him on flute in this concert was Milind Date – and if I am not mistaken he is a Pune based guy and he was quite brilliant on flute!!

Ghulam Ali started the concert with Bade Ghulam Ali Khan’s “Gori Tore Naina” thumri and it was a great feast after that. Though I felt that his trademark baritone voice is becoming a bit shrill now with age. (Felt the same way while listening to his last album “Zikr”). Maybe, it was his fatigue, poor sound system – but I felt that the bass was missing a bit. Nevertheless, his mastery over his singing was more than enough to keep us engrossed!

The session after that was filled with his mellifluous voice and lovely ghazals and each lasting for 15 minutes or more interwoven with ‘ashraar‘ (plural of sher) that he recited while singing. He even added one sher impromptu in “Dil me ek laher si” as one person from the audience requested it on a piece of paper! He also mentioned how he used to discuss with ‘Nasir Kazmi’ about Urdu Ghazals, the words, their meaning and all that. Then he sang “Kal chaudhavi ki raat thi” and of course “Chupake Chupake” with one lesser known sher (There are many more ‘ashraar‘ and full version is really awesome). The session before interval was full of ghazals of his choice and each lasting for 15minutes or more…and each one them was memorable with his way of singing. Finally, I was experiencing the moments I have been looking forward to for so long.

While listening to him I was also busy trying to capture him with my camera as closely as possible (Lucky were the VIPs & press people sitting in the front rows. Not to mention organizers & sponsors!). Also managed to get some brief video clippings of the concert (one added here) but after a point my camera gave up as memory card was full. Rest – I managed to treasure it in my own personal memories. It was quite thrilling to listen to Ghulam Ali live, someone I have adored so much – and have spent so many hours, days & years listening to his ghazals. I have grown up with them since my teenage and they grew on me. It became all the more special because he hasn’t performed in live in Pune publicly in last 15 years and such opportunities are rare!

The interval was supposed to be for 15 minutes. But there was a constant rush of his fans backstage, and due to that the interval lasted for almost 30-40 minutes and organizers had to make repeated requests to the audience to take there seats so that the concert could resume. I really, really wanted to meet him personally and talk to him for some time. So I went backstage to see if I could meet him – but I couldn’t! Earlier VIPs kept it blocked and by the time I managed to talk to his P.A. through one of the organizers, he was really tired and fade up – because the interval was getting prolonged and he wanted to resume the concert. His PA mentioned that I could try my luck after the concert. She also agreed to give my card and small note to him, don’t know if she gave it to him or not. But it doesn’t really matter much – I had a chance to listen to him live & watch him in person. That was enough for me to stay elated.

In the post-interval session he sang ghazals requested by the audience, as per their ‘farmaaish’. And just to make sure that he gives justice to most of the requests, he decided to sing only few couplets from many ghazals. He sang “Hum tere shaher me aaye hai“, “Mehefil me baar, baar”, “Kaisi chali hai abake hawa”, “Zehal-e-miskin” and of course “Hungama”. Naturally, the most requested ghazals were the popular ones, and the response was maximum to “Hungama“and likes. I was a bit surprised when he sang –

“इरादा था तर्क-ए-मोहोब्बत का लेकिन, फ़रेब-ए-तब्बसुम मे फ़िर आ गये हम,
खाके ठोकर संभलने ना पाये, के फ़िर खायी ठोकर संभलते, संभलते।”

instead of

“”इरादा था तर्क-ए-मोहोब्बत का लेकिन, फ़रेब-ए-तब्बसुम मे फ़िर आ गये हम,
अभी खाके ठोकर संभलने ना पाये, के फ़िर खायी ठोकर संभलते, संभलते।”

from “Mariz-e-mohobbat” ghazal by Qmar Jalvi (told you, I remember almost all of them by heart) – but he managed it well. Maybe, with so many requests and ghazals, it’s difficult for him to remember the exact words of each ghazal. That session was really picking up and time was just flying with audience getting more and more involved. When someone whistled loudly, he sportingly said “Ye sitii bhi raag me hai”, and after 2/3 such incidents he asked to stop it – and crowd was decent enough to obey their beloved maestro! He didn’t sing lesser known but beautiful ghazals like “Shaam-e-firaaq ab na poochh” (just love this ghazal by Faiz), “Abke tajdide wafaa ka nahi“, “Karoon na yaad magar” (one of my favorites), “Faasale aise bhi hoge“, “Koi hamnafas nahi hai“, “Kuchh din to baso” (another favorite of mine), “Dukh ki laher ne” and others. Obviously, time was a big constraint! And after 14-15 such requests, he had to go and got up to leave – but people wanted more!! And he was kind enough to sit down again and sang “Aawargi” before he left and then immediately rushed to the airport as it was already very late for him! And we just couldn’t have enough of him… we wanted more & more!!! He promised to have another concert in Pune soon, let’ s see!

——- oOo ——-

I was just thanking all those music companies for preserving his original ghazal recordings in his wonderful voice on the cassettes & CDs so that we can listen to any one of them whenever we want. Thanked them for keeping his music intact beyond time!

It was the first time I heard him performing live. Maybe his voice was not at its best and the auditorium was substandard to put it mildly, but it was still a thrilling experience for me. It is quite a rare opportunity now to have his public performance in Pune, so I was more than happy to watch him live, someone who has given me so much joy with his ghazals over the years. His ghazals have been with me through so many different phases & moments of my life – and left some wonderful, unforgettable memories. Perhaps, people who have heard him live before were a bit disappointed, but for me it was definitely an evening that I would cherish forever. The excitement of listening to ‘him’ live was good enough to look above all those petty auditorium problems. And if there is another Ghulam Ali concert again in Pune in the near future, I would be among the first ones to book my ticket! 🙂

Concert Video – Here is a small video from this concert.

The video quality is poor – but that’s the best I could capture with my Canon S3 IS while people kept moving and I had to adjust my position accordingly. But it should give you a glimpse nevertheless!

BTW, here is Sakal’s coverage (They were Media partners) of this event (in Marathi) aptly titled – “तृप्तीतही हुरहूर लावून गेल्या गुलाम अलींच्या गझला!

Update : I have modified Ghulam Ali ghazals database on my website and have added links to Ghulam Ali ghazal Lyrics and videos there. I am planning to add more such links there, you can check it out at –


19 thoughts on “Ghulam Ali Live : Pune Concert

  1. bosky says:

    u’v projected it in quite a lively manner……. once in a lifetime experience na!wish i could’v been there for such a rare event that we could cherish forever!!!sigh..:(

  2. suparna says:

    the evening well captured in words.. am yet to see the video .. but i will definetly pester you to share them :))

    ur post reminded me of many more ghazals i love too – Faasle aise bhi honge, Shaam-e-firaaq, Karoon na yaad magar, Kuch din to baso
    are personal favourites too!

  3. Shrikant says:

    Thanks very good! Nicely put in words, good expressions, Manish!

    I also got a chance to listen to the maestro live on 3rd May 2007 in Mumbai at nehru centre. I had almost the same feelings as you had. in fact that time I drove from Pune to Mumbai and back. Just to attend the program. I still remember the time he entered on stage. That was the first ever time I was seeing him in front of me on stage… This will be my cherished memory of my life…Right now I am in USA hence could not attend this one…

    if you have mps recording of this concert would you mind sharing it with me? Please do let me know. my mail ID is mentioned in leave a reply section.

    May “God” Bless our “God” of Gazal Singing!

  4. Shrikant says:

    Hard luck – I am sure you will have it in your memories though, for a long long time…

    It seems that you are a big GA fan! I have a few of his Gazals. I love to collect his live versions of the gazals. I just go crazy every time I hear them.

    I have quite a few, but I am sure you will have far more… Would you mind sharing it with me? if you feel appropriate. I will also try to help you in any way, if I can!

    Thanks Manish! Long live GA Sahab!

    – Shrikant

  5. Mustafa says:

    a wonderful wirte up.. This made my heart beat increased now itself. because, I am holding a Ticket for His Dubai Live concert at Hayatt regency.. which is expecting to start within 3hrs..

    Waiting to such a memorable moment is not too Easy..

    However let me start now itself..

  6. Hi Manish,

    Excellent review! and great pictures too!

    And thanks for the kind words about me !!

    I need a bit of your help…

    Can you please send me a few pictures from that Pune concert wher I am seen alongwith Ustaadji?

    Thanks in advance..

    BTW Ghulam Ali ji is singing on teh 23rd in Aurangabad, so if you wish you can go there!


  7. Khushboo says:

    Dear Manish,

    I would really appreciate if you could let me know the contact of Ganesh kala mandal who organised the event as I would like to organise a ghazal night in delhi & invite Ghulam ali sir.
    I would be very thankful to you.


  8. Priyal says:

    Hey Manish,

    really very nice wording….. and i suppose exact replication of contents of my mind…. me too was one of the luckiest to attend that concert…..

    nothing to write more as u have already stolen my whole words…. 😦


  9. mohan says:

    i m goin to meet him at dser mehndi,d home in myself is a singer ..when i sang a ghazal in front of daler mehndi..he promiss me ki main tuje ghulam ali khan sahab se personaly milvaunga..wo mere ghar aate rehta hain..daler mehndi,d nephew is my childhood friend that,s y it could happen.

  10. आर्य says:

    ग़ुलाम अली साहब का गायन दिल को छूकर उसमें समा जाता है। मनीष जी आपके प्रयास की मैं सराहना करता हूँ। शास्त्रीय संगीत और कविता का मेल ग़ुलाम अली जी की आवाज़ के साथ — शब्दों में बयान नहीं होता।

  11. sudipto says:

    Before ever listening to Ghulam Ali I used to have similar attitude towards people who had seen the master live. After listening to him live in Calcutta I rushed to the dais to touch his feet – something that I have never done before and something that I would never do again. And to think that I belong to a very conservative Hindu Brahmin family 🙂 . But then who cares about these things.
    However, Ghulam Ali hardly ever sings his hit songs at live programmes and I can’t say I liked all that he sang that particular evening. His point is you can always listen to the hits in records and tapes (and now CDs). That’s true but the crowd likes to listen to what they like most.
    Jagjit Singh in contrast knows what the crowd wants and gives them only that.
    I first heard Ghulam Ali from a cassette sometime in the early 80s. It was a live recording of his performance in England. The cassette was Pakistani and bought in London. It had just 4 songs. Hungama ran for close to 20 minutes. I have never heard those stanzas again. The cassette is lost.

  12. A few days ago on a certain border, the human weakness was again exploited by the devil inside all of us and the humanity suffered. This keeps happening, the bloodshed; but hope has managed to keep alive in the face of the wicked storm. But this time it was a little more bleak than before. I had my doubts like everyone else about the survival of the candle in the wind. And amidst that came the Paigham-e-Mohabbat from Ghulam Ali Sahab.

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