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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



Zikr Tera, CD Album review, by Siraj Syed: Cadence and decadence, allusion and illusion

Zikr Tera, CD Album review, by Siraj Syed: Cadence and decadence, allusion and illusion

Film playback singer, musician and ghazal exponent RoopKumar Rathod partners life -partner Sunali on an eight-track journey that is full of lament and pathos, allusion and illusion, called Zikr Tera (‘your mention’, in Urdu). More ethereal than earthy, it caters to an elite audience, and the senior citizens among them, at that. There are things to admire and things to comment upon, along the way.

Violin, sitar and keyboards are the dominant instruments, while the de rigueur flutes, tabla and percussion form the accompaniment. Violinist Deepak Pandit is the music arranger. The words flow from the pens of Shakeel Azmi (three numbers), Parveen Kumar Ashkk (also three) and one each from veteran Madan Pal and Saani Aslam.

Ghazal being predominantly a romantic form, the elements of betrayal of faith, and exquisite beauty of the beloved, are present in good measure. Also present are both covert and overt references to the political climate of the sub-continent (India-Pakistan) and the opportunistic promises of seductive politicians within the country.

Grappling with long breath and immersive singing is not really an issue for senior exponents like RoopKumar, but he chooses to give us more than an ample dose of the same here, in the Mehdi Hassan/Jagjit Singh school. Admittedly, the album is an acknowledged tribute to the late maestro, singer-composer Jagjit Singh.

Thoughtfully, Roop eschews the calisthenics that are more the domain of Ghulam Ali. They would not suit him, or the project, at all, and it is good that he realises this fact. In the process however, most tracks have abrupt endings to most lines (misras—lines, of shers--couplets). Some tracks have an abrupt ending to the whole number, as they suddenly grind to a halt, instead of a more gradually fading out.

Sunali has a rich base voice. She goes down the Pakistani gulukaras (female singers) lane of the last century, not so much her peer, Mrs. Chitra Jagjit Singh, while giving intonation to the words. Both she and Roop, however could have considered a more open-mouthed approach and more distinct pronunciation. In terms of duets, there is only the opening track, ‘Haathon men haath’ (Azmi), an apt choice as sole representation of the genre.

Renditions are almost uniform, even betraying a sense of monotony (some of Jagjit’s works had the same characteristic), while the lyrics span metaphors, like silence of witnesses to heinous crimes, and earthquakes to eliminate international boundaries. Listening at one go is recommended. No reason to suggest that the hard work of the team has not paid off. Just that the album comes off more as an easily appreciable one long track than as an assembly of eight different moods or patterns. There is at least one music video to go with, done in simplistic, dream like ambience.

Zikr Tera represents an era that is fast getting decadent. The immersive, trance-like singing means fewer crescendos and cadences, and in an eon wherein high-pitched groaning and moaning, items and bite ’ems, rule the roost, it could be a welcome under an hour break for those who still root for meaningful lyrics and consummate vocals.

A 2014 recording, it was initially released in 2015, when the tracks were played to a select group of music critics invited by music marketing wiz, Atul Churamani, to the Rathod residence, in Worli, Mumbai. This writer was among those present.

Zikr Tera is produced by TurnKey Music and Publishing, and retails at Rs. 200, in India. It comes with a little booklet enclosed, giving the lyrics in Hindi, and even the meanings of some of the relatively uncommon Urdu words used by the poets.


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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