By Cris, September 10, 2012
White sheets were spread out on the floor at an apartment in Pattom. Performers and music lovers kneeled down for a quiet evening of ghazal music. “Ghazal music through Sufism,” corrects Manu Thampy, a singer for the evening. And one for the band Mehfil formed by four ghazal lovers who happened to cross each other’s paths.“It was all by chance. I was hoping to get some guidance in ghazal singing when I was introduced to Hussain Ali Sayed, a teacher at the Kendriya Vidyalaya School here. He was a Sufi singer in Rajasthan,” says Manu.
Hussain who heard Manu sing was impressed enough to suggest the idea of forming a band for ghazal music through Sufism.
“It is called Kalaam-e-ghazal ka sufiyana andaaz. Sufi music is all about expressing your devotion for God through your singing,” says Hussain as he runs his fingers through the harmonium. Hussain brought another crucial member for the band – Murali Menon, who can handle three instruments with ease – sitar, mohana veena and violin.
“He had worked in Rajasthan for 13 years. That’s where he picked up lessons in sitar and mohana veena, so he performs in a North Indian Style. Even the violin, he had learnt in Hindustani style,” says Manu. On a typical day, Murali Menon would set the mood by interpreting a raga. The others would then join him – Manu and Hussain with their rendering and Jithu on the tabala.
Jithu Oommen Thomas is the youngest member of the group, and a student of airport management at Bangalore. He would come down to Thiruvananthapuram when there is a performance. He has performed with even the great Ghulam Ali. Time and distance however have never posed a problem to these musicians.
Manu who works in the health service department and Murali Menon who is employed at the NABARD make it a point to come together for the occasional performance and practice sessions in Thiruvananthapuram.
The next performance of Mehzil will be held on September 12 as part of Hindi Day celebrations at Hotel Mascot.