Pakistani ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali, on Tuesday, expressed gratitude and elation to be able to perform in Kolkata, following the cancellation of his Mumbai concert.
“I am very happy today. I have been coming to Kolkata for 30 to 35 years. But this time it feels like I have come back after 50 years. I was so sad and today my sadness ends,” Ali said at the start of the concert at the Netaji Indoor Stadium.
Performing with his son Aamir, Ali hailed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as a form of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom and music.
“I am grateful to her. She has done us a favour in the form of Saraswati,” Ghulam Ali said with a a smile.
Banerjee reinforced her views on universal brotherhood and requested the 75-year-old singer to visit the city again. She welcomed him with with a shawl and scarf.
The maestro had first performed in Kolkata in 1981.
“Gana wana mujhe nahi aata (I don’t know how to sing). I only know how to listen,” he said, reminiscing how he was tutored by the legendary Bade Ghulam Ali and his three brothers.
“I used to be after them [to learn],” said the singer, whose famous ghazal renditions are Chupke Chupke Raat Din, Kal Chaudhvin Ki Raat Thi, Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa, Kiya Hai Pyar Jise and many others.
After cancellation of his concert in Mumbai due to threats by the Shiv Sena, Ghulam Ali in November had expressed disappointment asserting “never to return to India”.
Mamata Banerjee offered Kolkata as a venue following the cancellation of the Mumbai concert, last October.