Now a days it’s fairly common to hear new versions of old songs. Seems like everyone is doing that. Sometimes they are cringeworthy, sometimes they are an interesting fresh take on an earlier rendering, and sometimes they are so good that it’s like meeting an old friend after many, many years. This one falls in the last category.

Sure it’s no technical singing. But even without any aalaaps or harkatein, Atif manages to create a special atmosphere with this. Soulful. I sat through the whole 10 or so minutes without any movement and experienced a strange calm come over me. My ears were delighted and I certainly had some new-found respect for him after listening to this.

It wasn’t just the singing. It was the entire mahaul, the samaa. The poetry, the musical arrangement, the vocal and instrumental accompanists (I will always be partial to the peti), and the clapping, made the whole listening experience somewhat magical.

Of course I couldn’t talk about this and not mention the real thing. So, for the musical purists out there, and for those who can still experience the old world charm of qawwali induced trances, here are the original masters with their amazing classical finesse and control. It is expression, sureelapan, and tenderness all rolled into one. Listen to them sprinkle in a few verses of an exquisite zehaal-e-miskeen at around the 7:25 mark.

The two versions are beautiful in their own way. And in the world of music lovers, there is plenty of space for both!


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