Farida Khanum. While driving through the busy streets of Lahore on a Saturday, I was trying to prepare myself for my meeting with the legendary Ghazal singer herself. As it happened, it wasn’t easy to get hold of her. With time and age, she has been very selective in the people she meets. It took me a while to get hold of her contact numbers, and to feel that courage which let me dial her number for the very first time. “Ma’am Farida Khanum baat ker rhe hein?” “Ji mein bol rhe hon” When the first time I talked to her via phone, it was as if I have had known her since ages (While driving to and from work, I listen to her melodious voice on an almost daily basis, so for me she is pretty much a regular part of my life). While driving towards her residence, I was thinking about all these things, breathing deeply to prepare myself for the moment when I will be in the presence of Malika-e-Ghazal. To be honest with my readers, I was not sure what to expect. Women in performing arts can be too plastic for my liking. Will she be the same? And within my heart I was hoping that it will not be the case. After talking to her a few times via phone, I was sure it will not be the case. Farida Khanum, Malika-e-Ghazal, will not be a disappointment, I told myself before ringing the bell at the entrance of her bungalow. Read more..
Farida Khanum the iconic ghazal singer of Pakistan was born in 1935 in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in the pre partitioned India. She was brought up in the city of Amristar.
She showed inclination towards music from an early age and used to accompany her elder sister Mukhtar Begum to Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan’s place where she (Mukhtar Begum) went for riyaaz (practice of classical music).
Mukhtar Begum was more than a sister to Farida Khanum; he was also her first teacher of classical music. From the tender age of seven, Farida Khanum learnt khayal from her sister. Later under Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan’s guidance she perfected her singing skills.
She chose to migrate to Pakistan when India was partitioned in 1947. Farida Khanum’s first public appearance was in 1950. She later sang for the Radio Pakistan; her deep rich voice ruled over the hearts of Pakistanis and fans across the border for years. Even today her melodious voice and her perfect rendition of ghazals remain unmatched.
When on stage her majestic presence, her total command over the classical raags and her style of delivering the lyrics really overawes the audience; after all she is the Malika e Ghazal (Queen of Ghazals).
Farida Khanum was awarded the Hilal-e- Imtiaz by the Pakistani government in 2005. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh honored her with the Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Award in 2005 too.
At the age of 74, Farida Khanum still exudes the same charm and magic when she sings. Farida Khanum is a living legend, a strong pillar on which the Pakistani music industry stands.