What a moment it was when two legendary singers from across the borders met! Pakistani Ghazal Queen Farida Khanum recently paid a visit to India’s Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar on her visit to Mumbai. They met after a good 35 years.
Farida, who’s known as Malika-i-Ghazal, performed for the first time in Mumbai. Her Immortal Moments concert organised by Reva and Bobby Sethi of Kala Swara was held on October 27 at Nehru Auditorium.
“Since many years I’ve been wanting to come to Mumbai. I’m so happy I got to meet Lata didi and her family. I will never forget this day. Dil ko sukoon mil gaya,” said Farida.
Satyajit Ray apparently had called her to India a long time ago to sing in one of his films, but she could not make it because of visa and permit issues. “I remember I cried a lot at that time. So every time I’m here, it feels great,” she added.
Born in Calcutta and raised in Amritsar, Farida Khanum migrated to Pakistan after Independence in 1947. She started learning Khayal from her sister Mukhtar Begum at the age of seven and later learnt classical music from renowned maestro Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan.
She became a star in Pakistan when President Ayub Khan first invited her to a public recital in the ’60s. Khanum was awarded the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, Pakistan’s highest civilian honour by President General Pervez Musharraf in 2005. She’s the second Pakistani artiste to receive the award after the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who received it in 1996.
Khanum loves all of Lata Mangeshkar’s songs. “She has taken music to a completely different level,” she says. During their meeting, she kept telling Lata about the fan following she has in Pakistan. “You must come to Pakistan. The whole country will come to see you,” she told Lata.
Music can strengthen ties between two countries and Khanum’s glad she’s got an opportunity to do so through her music.
“It’ll be nice to have more artistes from here come and perform there and vice-versa,” says the 72-year-old whose popular songs include Aaj Jaane Ki Zidh Na Karo, Mere Hum Nafas, Tauba Tauba among others.
Farida’s exceptionally popular in India, specially Mumbai. “There’s a mad rush and I’m finding it difficult to cope with the number of requests for passes for her concert,” said Bobby.