Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Choral Symphony in Miniature?

When I interviewed him in 1993, the great Pakistani composer Sohail Rana said that among his dream projects were symphonies about great Persian masters such as Omar Khayyam.

Now I wonder if his 'Akele Na Jana' (female version) could also be interpreted as a miniature choral symphony dedicated to Nizami Ganjavi, the great Persian poet from the 13th Century.

Originally the song was featured in the trendsetting movie Armaan (1966), written and produced by Waheed Murad apparently as an update on Nizami's Layla Majnun in the context of modern day Pakistan.

The song has all the grandeur and feel of a symphony (the orchestra included 45 musicians) although it is less than three and a half minute, and it is actually divided into four "movements" of varying lengths:
  1. Intro
  2. First Interlude
  3. Second Interlude
  4. Finale
Each of the first three movements is followed by a few lines of poetry from Masroor Anwar interpreting the meaning of that movement (the lyrics were written after the composition, and the signature couplet was suggested by Rana himself). The interpretation of the last movement is offered before it, so that no words should be needed after the grand finale.

The poetry, incidentally, is based on Layla's love letter to Majnun in Nizami's epic, and Masroor Anwar seems to have done a superb job capturing the essence of the original poem.

Find out more about Sohail Rana at his official fansite (you can listen to 'Akele na jana' on the Film Songs page under Armaan, or directly in your player)
Read Sohail Rana's comments on this post.

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