Indian music is popular in South Africa: Envoy

Sunday, December 5, 2010

NEW DELHI - Indian music is quite popular in South Africa, according to the Indian envoy Virendra Gupta, who feels music is one of the priority areas in the relations between the two nations.

“There is lot of interest in Indian music in South Africa. Bollywood music as well as movies are very popular. The 1.5 million Indians in South Africa are rooted to Indian culture,” Gupta told IANS at the launch of his wife Veenu Gupta’s debut album of ghazals here.

“The local population - both black and white - also like Hindi movies because they transcend barriers of colour, race and geography,” he added.

“We have a huge relationship with South Africa. Business and culture are two high-priority areas - across the spectrum. Classical music, folk traditions and yoga follow suit. We have just appointed a yoga teacher at our cultural centre,” the high commissioner said.

The Indian high commission in South Africa is planning a major conference on ayurveda and yoga next year, he added.

Veenu Gupta unveiled her debut album of ghazals at a packed gathering here late Saturday evening, following it with her soulful renditions.

A trained ghazal exponent, she rendered three mellifluous ghazals from her album, “Dil Humsafar” which features classical and contemporary “nazm” (poetry) by former diplomat Surinder Malik, L.S. Vajpeyi, Ahmed Faraz and Mirza Ghalib.

The cover has been designed by artist Manav Gupta.

Veenu Gupta received her formal training in Indian classical music at Bhopal University and later at the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, honed her skill under exponent Shanti Hiranandji - the lone surviving disciple of Begum Akhtar.

Hiranandji instructed her in the finer nuances “thumri” and “ghazal gayaki”.

Gupta is empanelled with the All India Radio and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). The soiree was presented by Routes 2 Roots, a non-profit cultural organisation promoting soft diplomatic exchanges.

“I had the album in mind for a while. Just a fortnight before we were moving to South Africa, I was asked to record the album. I recorded it in three days - in course of packing. I worked day and night to complete the album,” Gupta said.

She has been singing ghazals since she was a child.

Lyricist Surinder Malik said he has been writing ghazals in Hindi and Urdu for 20 years. “I took it up seriously when I sent my poetry (nazm) to (ghazal singer) Ghulam Ali in Pakistan in the mid-1990s and he recorded it,” Malik said.

His poetry has been composed to music and sung by popular exponents like Jagjit Singh, Chitra Singh and Bhupinder-Mitali, the lyricist said.

Malik has known Veenu Gupta for almost three decades as her husband’s colleague in the foreign service.

Virender Gupta, who was in the country for the launch, said his wife has helped him by keeping the Indian flag flying high. “Her music binds people,” he added.

Gupta has hosted many private soirees of his wife’s ghazals at home in South Africa.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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