Teena Sani is a seasoned singer who has sung a large number of songs and ghazals written by Faiz Ahmad Faiz. In fact, some people believe that the voice of Teena Sani has been produced for the poetry of Faiz. The News Tribe recently talked to her about music, poetry and her choices. Here are a few excerpts from the talk:
The News Tribe: A large number of humans enjoy music? Why?
Teena Sani: Artists have a sense of beauty that is different from that of common people. When artists manage to convey that sense of beauty to common people through a medium such as music, people get to enjoy it.
TNT: You mean artists make people see what they cannot otherwise see?
TS: Yes. But not everyone can do that. We used to listen to a ghazal sung by a renowned singer. But that never reached our soul. Nobody can produce meaningful art without taking it to his soul. It is something spiritual. Every art is a spiritual thing. In fact, I fear talking about these things. Many words or ideas are repeated so frequently in society that they lose their original meaning. I read Ghalib and Mir in childhood and then Faiz, but I remained unaware of their meaning for a long time. Then slowly I began understanding these verses. And now I cannot get out of their charm.
TNT: We often hear that music is a way of catharsis. If this is true, any music should do this. But it doesn’t happen.
TS: There is a thing named frequency. Everything in this universe has a frequency. Research has shown that there 400 frequecies n the world. Why do we feel like weeping while listening to a particular song. It is the frequency which matches something in our heart.
TNT: It is said that those who sing classical songs are weak in live performance.
TS: Yes. It is true. And it is because of technology. It is because those who are not born into musician families do not have the training to develop themselves enough. There has been a war between musician families and those outside these families. In Pakistan and India both, classical music singers have faced a lot of difficulties.
TNT: It is said that classical singing has progressed in India but not in Pakistan. Do you agree?
TS: In Pakistan, singers come from only three cities. Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad and to some extent Faisalabad. But India is much bigger. Even then we have produced such a talent. We should improve cultural ties with India so that our artists get the bigger Indian market.
TNT: Classical singing declined after partition. Why?
TS: People didn’t have bread to eat after partition. How would they buy music album in those days? People of the major musician families avoided introducing their children to this profession because of economic reason. Their children entered other professions. In the ’60s and the ’70s all renowned classical singers died. There was a void in Zia-ul-Haq era because people thought that there was no scope in music although nobody stopped us from working in this profession. Those who did not want to work in this profession for other reasons put the blame on Zia-ul-Haq. I am not supporting Ziaul Haq, but the fact is that those who wanted to work worked in his time too. This attitude hurt the classical singing. It is not easy to carry on classical singing. It demands a lot of ‘riyaz’ (practice). I had to live in the United States for a year. There I had nothing for riyaz except an ordinary piano of a neighbour. I practised with it.
TNT: You made music your profession too late. Why?
TS: I was indecisive about what to do in the beginning. I got training in singing from an ustad in childhood. Then somebody told me that I should sing for television. I knew only one song at that time: Akhyan Jhim Jhim. I sang that and it was a hit. Then I was at a loss about what to sing next. I started singing in 1980, released a number of albums, did a lot of practice, worked with a number of seasoned musicians. Then in 1998, I started live concerts. I confined myself to recordings in the beginning of my own accord. I sang a lot of bad songs. I told myself on quite a few occasions that singing was not the thing for me. But then constant practice yielded dividends and today my work is before you. I am still
TNT: Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has concentrated on film songs. Is it the way to go for the people of classical music?
TS: Whoever gets an opportunity to move forward, will avail himself of the opportunity. If a son of an opera singer in a European country gets an opportunity to work in hollywood, he will avail himself of that opportunity. There is a commercial aspect of music which cannot be ignored.
TNT: What is the relation between music and love?
TS: All feelings have to do with music. In fact, I believe that annoyance and anger also have relation with music. A man wants to disappear in himself and music helps him in that.
TNT: You have sung a lot of Faiz’s poetry. How do you see this attachment?
TS: Faiz’s poetry is a world in itself. When I sing his verses, I feel the best. People think that I have been close to him, but I never met him. The relation between my singing and his poetry is one created by the nature.