Farida Khanum: Tribute to a Ghazal Maestro

Posted on August 19, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Music, People, TV, Movies & Theatre, Urdu
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Adil Najam

Last year the mobile phone company Mobilink had released a wonderful tribute to Mehdi Hassan on the occasion of Independence Day, conceived and produced by actor Shaan; now of Khuda key Liye fame. We had carried a number of posts on that wonderful tribute (here, here and here) and have recently featured it again on our sidebar. This year, Mobilink released a similar tribute, this time to Farida Khannum.

Fareeda Farida KhanumFareeda Farida Khanum

It is done equally tastefully and although the song itself does not have the gravitas and passion of ‘Yeh watan tumhara hai‘, the visuals and the sentiments are very moving. I, at least, have been listening to it repeatedly over the last many hours.

Fareeda Farida KhanumOf course, the ghazal and geet maestro Farida Khanum deserves – nay, demands – a separate and detailed post. She is in a class by herself and some of the most memorable renditions of Urdu ghazals and geets have been from her. To even think of writing about her music overwhelms one. She is a giant. Truly a giant of her craft. But more than that she is also a wonderful person and the big smile and welcoming demeanor that you see in this new video is not an act. It is very genuine. I have had the pleasure (in an earlier life) of interviewing her and spending some time with her. Her sense of humor and her sense of compassion are legendary … and real.

I hope to write a real post on her when I can do justice to it (unfortunately my list of posts-to-write keeps growing longer), but right now I wanted to at least share some of her greatest musical gems with our readers.

For me, to think of Fareeda Khannum is to think of ‘woh ishq jo hum say rooth gaya‘. This is not the best recording to that song, but listening to it still gives me goosebumps. Powerful poetry, rendered with amazing poignancy.

Although her forte has always been the ghazal, Farida Khanum’s geet have been equally memorable, including some Punjabi folk songs such as Balle Balle Tor Punjaban Di. But probably the signature geet fromFarida Khanum is ‘Mein nay paaon mein payal tou pehnay nahiN.’ Again, this is not the best recording of the song, but it is memorable nonetheless.

28 Comments on “Farida Khanum: Tribute to a Ghazal Maestro”

  1. Raza Rumi says:
    August 19th, 2007 1:23 pm

    Adil Bhai: thanks for this post.
    Farida Khanum’s voice is majestic – she is a living legend.

  2. Indscribe says:
    August 19th, 2007 4:28 pm

    Thanks to these great artistes, Urdu has managed to flourish and survive in India. Classical singers and all such mughannis and mughannias deserve a salute.

  3. Mubashir says:
    August 19th, 2007 4:36 pm

    Athar Nafees’s ghazal and Farida Khanum’s voice…..I am spellbound…………..

  4. August 19th, 2007 4:56 pm

    watching her live is such a magical experience. she starts off her performance with an alaap that is unique; she actually hums and gets her voice ready before the actually alaap is unleased by which time you are help spell-bound not only by the authority of her voice but her beauty; yes she looks beautiful in her crimson sari. at the APMC annual concert in karachi where finding space during the inaugural session was difficult, we saw her coming towards the place which my wife and i thought we had secured. we made room for her and she sat on the floor just infront of us; thereupon hordes and hordes of people queued up to pay their respects and if she was in conversation with anyone, she made sure she returned the compliments showered on her by people and she was a picture of complete humility. no wonder that people sat patiently till 3am because she was singing aaj jaanany kee zid na karo, what mortal being will even dare think of leaving when farida khanum implores you to stay a’la chend ghareeyaan yahee hain jo aazaad hain, tum ko apnee qasam jan-e-jan, rook lo aaj kee raat ko, aaj janay kee zid na karoo

    adil, do you remember the crowd responding to her when she first sang balay balay nee tor punjaban dee during the black-n-white days…what is PTV doing sitting on these golden archives i wonder. was it not on Zia Mohuydin show? how i wish the replay that whole series of stage music show

  5. Viqar Minai says:
    August 19th, 2007 5:30 pm

    Wonderful piece. I wish someone at ATP could put a similar piece together about here elder sister Mukhtar Begum. Looong time ago, I heard her sing a ghazal of Agha Hashr Kasmiri in a function at the Arts Council.

    mere AshyiAN mayN kyA hae mera AshiyAN jalA dE
    maen chaman mayN KHudh nahIN hUN mere aur haeN irAdE

    It was really something else. Would give anything to find a recording of it somewhere.

  6. Viqar Minai says:
    August 19th, 2007 5:32 pm

    … The second verse is:

    maen chaman mayN KHush nahIN hUN …

    I regret the typo.

  7. August 19th, 2007 7:45 pm

    Adil Bhai,

    Excellent post, the lady is a living legend alongside the greats of Pakistan namely Madam, Ustad Mehdi saab, Ustad Nusrat saab and Ustad Ghulam Ali. We have only three left, lefts savour them and especially pray and fight for Ustad Mehdi’s plight as his health is poor and the government of Mush doesnt give a damn even after endless emails from me to the famed President requesting his help to help the Ustaad.

    Maybe someone who knows someone can raise the profile, adil bhai could you say a word or two in an article or in an interview or even contact some journalist friends. I would love to see Capital Talk or some program of that kind dedicated to how we treat our legends come about as a result of a phone call, stranger things have happened!

    Feimanallah and Pakistan Legends Zindabad


  8. bananafish says:
    August 19th, 2007 8:17 pm

    This post was great.

    We all need to treat these people with more respect. I am only 22 years old and people from my generation don’t even know who people like Farida Khanum, Iqbal Bano and Nayyara Noor are. If there was more awareness raised in the media the perhaps the youth wouldbe aware of these people and respect them more. The govt. also needs to treat them with respect.

    I wish these new music channels would have segments on the great singers we have had from our country in the past.

  9. Raza Rumi says:
    August 20th, 2007 12:29 am

    Viqar Miani: thanks for reminding the readers of Mukhtar Begum – it is sad that these immortal voices have not been introduced to the younger generations. PTV used to promote our artists but in the current race for commercial gains, it has also fallen prey to mindless entertainment.

    One of my favourites from Mukhtar Begum – also rendered by Farida Khanum – is:

    Chori kahin khulay na naseem-i-bahar ki khushboo urra ke layee hai gaysu-i-yaar ki

    Both Mukhtar B and Farida K have rendered with sensitivity and playfulness that captures the delicate nuances of this ghazal.

    Another amazing ghazal (probably by Daagh) rendered by Farida Khanum is:

    Mere qabu mein na pehraun dil-i-nashad aaya
    woh mera bhulnay wala jo mujhe yaad aaya

  10. Ahsan says:
    August 20th, 2007 2:48 am

    A^fat ky shwkhiyAN hayN tumhAry nigAh meyN
    sung by Farida Khanam goes right to my heart.

  11. August 20th, 2007 5:18 am

    Bananafish & Adil bhais,

    You are so right about the lack of info on the legends, surely the Musik and Aag and others can have a legends program showing music from yesteryear.

    Adil bhai any thoughts on my suggestion?



  12. priya says:
    August 20th, 2007 11:27 am

    its lovely…..i remember one of her songs ‘soni dharti Allah rakkhey kadam kadam abad…kadam kadam abad’[hope i am not wrong] her voice superb ..may i add magestic…thanks again and again.

  13. August 21st, 2007 8:28 am

    Farida Khanum is colossal. I heard VH1 Pakistan is going to be launched by ARY Group. VH1 probably is a channel dedicated to old / classical music. I hope it sees the light of the day, so that we can listen to our musical greats regularly. They don’t find any airtime on our existing music channels.

  14. Shani says:
    August 21st, 2007 12:02 pm

    Another great post by ATP.

    I wish someone at ATP could put a similar piece together about Iqbal Bano.

    Dasht e Tanhaye may ………

  15. mrizvi says:
    August 21st, 2007 1:30 pm

    Thank you Adil Sahab for a wondeful post. For me “Ajj jaanay kee zid na karro” tops the list.

  16. Umar Shah says:
    August 21st, 2007 7:08 pm

    Nice post. One of my favorite Farida Khanum ghazals can be found here:


    Under the album ‘Best of Farida Khanum’ click on ‘Is Tarah Qissa Mera’. No matter if you hear it once or many times you will not be able to get the tune out of your mind :)

  17. Rafkash says:
    September 15th, 2007 5:19 am

    Faridah Khannum’s gayiki is beyond explanation, as there is no one to compare her with, her tackling with wadi sumwadi, rikhab ghandhar, laykari, andolans and the “aakaars of the voice “from where one begins the classical , She is so perfect in all of them , on the top, she has the sublime ghazals choice. I happen to listen to her sister, but Khannum will never have her second. She should be encouraged to transmit all to her disciples.

  18. aadh says:
    October 26th, 2007 7:45 am

    can anyone give me the lyrics of this song in English by the beautiful Farida Khanum Title: Woh Ishq Jo Humse. It is so beautiful. I believe she is Pakistan’s gift to the world like Abida Parveen

    thank you.


  19. Adnan Ahmad says:
    October 26th, 2007 11:11 am

    In the early 90s I happened to attend an evening with Farida Khanum at Karachi Arts Council. I had recently learnt to appreciate semi classical singing but before that evening my idea of Farida Khanum was just alright. As we entered the arena filled by who’s who of the city she was finishing one of her ghazals with the man at Tabla giving perhaps the performance of his life. She then started aaj jaaney kee zid naa karo and the entire audience was under a spell for the next 20 minutes. It was ghazal singing at its best. I have not heard Mehdi Hasan or any other big shot live but that controlled transition from low to high note, the quality of her voice that cannot be noticed on tape or cd, and the entire performance was out of this world. She was giving life to lines.. ‘tume hee socho zara..’ and ‘baat itni meri maan lo..’ It was an unforgettable performance. We had to leave early for an other gathering and I regret that to this date

  20. Vijay Phatarphekar says:
    December 25th, 2007 3:39 am

    Farida didi brings back memories of Parveen Sultana,Shobha Gurtu and their ilk.I hope such gems are treated with respect and care.We wlcome Pakistani Talent.

  21. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    December 25th, 2007 3:55 am

    The richness of talents

    Khanum has not only the gift of voice and stemna,
    but also a treasure of Ragas from which she knows
    how to extract, and form the “Dhun” and incert the appropriate ghazal or geet.
    And this is arithmetic and geometry, I still stay on my
    word, no 2nd to Khanum yet.

  22. March 25th, 2008 12:31 am

    i realy aprished to Mr.Yousif Raza Gilani He is the one of them who have the God blessings becoz he is the great person of God who came to save the Pakistan in the behalf of Miss Benazir Bhoto
    Benazir Bhoto was a very brave,inteligent and very bold woman. If she alive so she put out the Govt of PML(Q). i always with (PPP)with my heart and soul.

  23. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    March 25th, 2008 4:42 am


    I think you got the wrong number, OR

    Ravish ne thi hamari, yeh Piri aur faqiri,
    Dhondta ne tha Adil-najam, ik sitara aur

  24. nudma says:
    April 13th, 2008 10:44 am

    farida khanum is the standard of singing . she is the best classical singer of urdu poetry . she has brought a lot to pakistan but what we can return her back is to make 1000s of such videos as shaan has done……….

  25. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    April 13th, 2008 12:44 pm


    I don’t know if we can ever return minimum
    appriciation to this “bulbul”, videos can only
    “commercialize ” access, thanks to ‘you tube’
    the only alternative left for us.
    just listen on ‘ you tube ‘
    Ustad Salamat Ali Khan’s Multani kafi in Sindhi
    Bhairavi, Khawaja Farid’s saraiki kalam,
    and Ustad Amanat Ali & Fateh Ali Khan with superlative
    of devine vocal techniguqe (God-gifted) pure ecstasy,
    how human being is capable to go to such sublime hights, you can listen again and again,
    its regretable to see how we are handling this heritage
    on our “top priorities” list ?

  26. kiki says:
    August 17th, 2009 11:23 am

    can u tell me what is the lyrics of balley balley tor punjaban di (faride khanul) plz it’s very important: this is for a dolak

  27. kiki says:
    August 17th, 2009 11:41 am

    salam again

    i really have to know the lyrics of balley balley tor punjaban di
    of farida khanum because i don’t find it

  28. shozy says:
    August 17th, 2009 11:43 am

    je veux un M3
    allah hafiz

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