The inimitable Iqbal Bano

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In a concert

With her trained voice and complete grip on nuances of ghazal singing Iqbal Bano never gave the impression that she did not belong to a traditional singing family and learnt music as her passion. She actually hailed from a family that initially refused to let her sing and opposed her ambition but her natural talent compelled her family to let her learn music and she became very well versed in classical musical traditions.

Iqbal Bano learnt singing from masters of her time and developed her own style of ghazal singing that was widely emulated by successive generations. Her style focused upon clear enunciation of musical notes and their intense variation. She did justice to the essence of poetic couplets given her to render and paid due emphasis to their lyrical content. Her specific style made her a symbol for future ghazal singing and her style was widely appreciated.

She began her career from Radio Pakistan Lahore where the atmosphere was very conducive to music and arts. She also began participating in musical concerts singing ghazals and thumri and soon was in great demand. She preferred to adopt the Punjabi ‘ang’ or nuance instead of following the prevalent Poorbi ‘ang’ made popular by Begum Akhtar. The new nuance was perfected by Iqbal Bano that reflected her originality and she was ably helped in it by her consistent hard work.

Her break came when famous film music composer Master Inayat Hussain gave her an unusual composition to sing for a film. Payal mein geet hain chham chham ke became a rage on both sides of the border and Iqbal Bano became a very popular singer. Her hard work had paid off so well that this intricate composition was okayed in the first take impressing the music impresarios. This number is laden with classical overtures and is full of melodic surprises.

Her ghazal renditions sparkled with emotions and
helped create an aura of finer sentiments which she
embellished with her sophistry and panache

She was given another lilting song Ulfat ki nai manzil ko chala that she sang with perfection and it also became a hit. This composition was very novel in its treatment and required mastery of the art of singing to render it effectively. To Iqbal Bano it came effortlessly and she glided through its intricate notes.

One of her renditions Ambwa ki daarion pe jhulna jhula ja became very famous for its semi-classical orientation. She also gave her voice to an extremely popular film number Sitaro tum tau so jaao pareshan raat sari hai that is as popular today as it was when it was composed and sung. Her singing career in films saw her rendering songs for more than 70 films.

Though Iqbal Bano was given exceptional tunes to sing by music composers such as Master Manzoor, Master Inayat Hussain, Safdar Hussain, Firoz Nizami, Khurshid Anwar and Mehdi Zaheer but she was not one of the artists who are dependent on composers only. She selected poetry of classical and contemporary poets such as Ghalib, Daagh, Faiz and Ahmed Faraz and asked composers to set music to it.

Effortless rendition
With Faiz

Iqbal Bano was privileged that composers looked for her voice to record their compositions. When Mehdi Zaheer composed Faiz’s famous poem Dasht-e-tanhai he felt it necessary to ask Iqbal Bano to render it as the tenor of the composition could only be performed satisfactorily by her.

The rendition prompted Faiz to commend it and when during a concert she sang Faiz’s Tum aaye ho na shabe intizar guzri hai, he walked over to the stage and introduced himself as the poet whose poetry she just sang! She became a specialist Faiz singer and his poem Hum dekhenge is still sung with verve amongst all generations of music lovers.

Despite her success in film singing Iqbal Bano always wanted to sing ghazal. She was aware of her unique style and knew it would immortalise her renditions. She knew that her style was not confined to the considerations of time and space and her exertions indeed transformed her numbers into a class of their own.

Her ghazal renditions sparkled with emotions and helped create an aura of finer sentiments which she embellished with her sophistry and panache. Her deep devotion to music and her extreme hard work made her sonorous voice so magnificent that she would carve out a statue of brief glides, warbles and trills. This made the lyrics enter the hearts of the listeners who valued every number rendered by her as priceless.

Her ghazal repertoire is very rich and includes, among many others, Tere waade ko bout-e-heela jo, Bhooli bisri chand umeeden, Kab therega dard ae dil, Daagh-e-dil humko yaad aane lage and Sham-e-firaaq ab na pooch. Her ghazals will always be remembered and will keep the memory of Iqbal Bano alive as an exceptional singer in the league of Begum Akhtar, Farida Khanum and Mehdi Hasan.

Noor Israr has a discerning taste in music and he is a trained singer

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