PHOTOS & REVIEW BY GIRISH MODI
Atlanta, GA: Munni Begum has been singing ghazals longer than any singers I have known and has maintained her sterling reputation for over fifty years with a huge following. That truth was evident on Saturday January 26, 2013 when she embarked upon Atlanta for the third time in two years.
Munni Begum looked vibrant, full-spirited and stunning in her red sari. She was greeted by a crown of over 300 fans. Sadaf Farooqui introduced her to her fans with sweet shairi that described Munni Begum’s accomplishments and popularity like a golden arrow.
For over three hours Munni Begum sang top ghazals from her repertoire and kept the audience glued to their seats and still excited. Many were clapping, thumping and singing along with her and giving her encouragement to sing more memorable ghazals.
Upon this writer’s request Munni Begum sang her evergreen ghazals like mareez-e-mohabbat, chahat mein kya duniyadari (with extra stanza), aaj jaane ki zid mat karo, and mujhe apne zakhm pe naaz. Of course she also sang her other popular numbers like ekbar muskura do, tumhare sahar ka mausam and awargi mein had se and others by audience request. During the 15 minutes break Munni Begum obliged many of her fans and posed posed for photo with them.
When Munni Begum sang zoom barabar zoom at the audience’s request many could not resist urge to become extremely ecstatic and joined her. The last ghazal damadam mast kalandar was the climax of the entire evening. Many from the audience came near the stage and started dancing when the tabla player Salim Khan showed his mastery for more than three minute interlude playing the dance rhythm.
Throughout the program one can see and hear Munni Begum’s control over the harmonium and her synchronization with the tabla player along with her mesmerizing voice. She is truly one of the last old time ghazal singers still alive and going strong at ripe age of 72. Long live Munni Begum!
The concert was organized by Ramzan Virani who has recently launched a new all-in-one venue in prime location in Duluth. This 13000 sqft hall is befittingly called Atlanta Event & Music Entertainment Hall. Virani’s goal is to provide entertainment for all age groups every day of the year. He organizes birthday parties, weddings, musical evenings, concerts, talent shows, dance programs. Soon he is going to start activities for senior citizens (daycare) since his wife Shehnaz is a registered daycare giver.