By Suhel Johar


'Visaal' is a remarkable album as it brings together two great talents, ghazal singer Ghulam Ali and poet Gulzar. Released by HMV-SaReGaMa, the album is also significant because it has come at a time when Pakistan and India are pointing fingers at each other and things are a little bit tense on the border. One hopes that this collaborative effort will prove to be another small step in improving relations between the two countries. All said and done, Indian artistes are not accorded the same kind of reception in Pakistan that their counterparts get here in India. In fact, the Pakistani government seems to be averse to improving the climate on the cultural front.

The album contains eight ghazals, all written by Gulzar and composed by Ghulam Ali himself, while the music arrangement has been done by Amar Haldipur (of Amar-Utpal fame). 'Visaal' has Gulzar at his best, though one cannot say the same about Ghulam Ali.

The opening ghazal, 'Khushboo Jaise Log Mile', is arguably the best of the eight tracks on the album. The composition is good and Ghulam Ali complements Gulzar's lyrics with his competent singing.

'Sehma Sehma' depicts the pain and anguish of a person who remembers his past, especially former love. Gulzar's lyrics stand out while Ghulam Ali's composition is okay.

'Mera Kya Tha' is another example of great poetry. Gulzar is at his sensitive best here while Ghulam Ali as the vocalist is able to infuse the right kind of emotion.

'Jab Bhi Aankhon Mein', like the previous tracks, searches for meaning in existence following past memories. This pathos filled track has, for a change, an apt composition to complement it.

The concept behind the beautiful ghazal, 'Khushboo Gunche Talash Karti Hai', is once again about a person reminiscing about his past, a past that he wants to forget so that he can begin life afresh. While doing so, he realizes how difficult the process will be. The poetry of Gulzar holds fort, but Ghulam Ali the vocalist and Ghulam Ali the composer are decent enough.

'Shaam Se Aaj Saans Bhaari Hai' has Ghulam Ali at his best as a vocalist. Gulzar builds a beautiful imagery and lets his thoughts run wild with gay abandon. In fact, Gulzar is so impressive on this track that even Ghulam Ali is unable to let it go unnoticed and accepts the challenge. As a result 'Shaam Se Aaj Saans Bhaari Hai' proves to be one of the best tracks on the album.

'Koi Atka Hua Hai Pal' brings to mind strong sentiments of the past. This track is another example of the poet Gulzar and singer-composer Ghulam Ali sounding the right note. The lyrics are moving and Ghulam Ali's rendition is effective.

'Hum To Kitnon Ko' is a deviation in the sense that it strikes a happy note. Gulzar, as usual, is in his element, but Ghulam Ali is a little inconsistent here.

'Visaal' may not be an exceptional album but it is certainly welcome. If only Ghulam Ali had been in a better frame of mind, the result would have been magic. But this debut collaborative effort between the two still quailfies as a collector's item.


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