Jaag Rahi – Forget me not, O’Beloved

Fariha Pervez

Jaag Rahi, a classic thumri from Week 1 of Coke Studio 2020 has been re-imagined as an acoustic ballad, with a contemporary take on this particular semi-classical musical art form of the sub-continent. The term “thumri” goes back all the way to the 19th century where it was first linked to the ‘kathak’, a form of classical dance. Derived from the verb thumakna which means “to walk with dancing steps so as to make ankle-bells tinkle”, the form is usually connected with dance, dramatic gestures, evocative love poetry and folk songs.

Originally written by Zahid Abbas and composed by Mujahid Hussain, the song has been performed by Fariha Pervez who is suffering sleepless nights, longing to be united with her Beloved.  The counter-perspective, which is the male narrative brought by Ali Noor’s voice responds to this longing by explaining that he suffers the same predicament and that she is not forgotten.  There is also a reference to folklore (katchi) adding a spiritual dimension to the track. 

The song starts off with a soft acoustic guitar intro in Fariha’s voice, soothing and melodious, emanating an old world charm. The slow ballad is accentuated with the sound of delicate ankle bells bringing the classic thumri elements to life. Explaining the premise of the song, Fariha said, “This song has elements of Ishq-e-Majazi (romantic/worldly love) and Ishq-e-Haqiqi (love for God Almighty). However, even when I was singing I noticed that the more dominant feeling was towards Ishq-e-Haqiqi. I don’t think there is a greater love than that for the Creator.” 

In a twist at the interlude, Ali Noor comes in singing lyrics written by Asim Raza and composed by producer Rohail Hyatt. The song is predominantly in Raag Des, a musical scale which is similar to Raag Khamaj. Raag Des is also quite close to its neighboring ragas including Tilak Kamod.

Waiting for you each moment, the day has gone by

…has gone by

…has gone by

Waiting for you each moment, the day has gone by

The messenger bird brings no news of you

Listen, Beloved, please don’t forget me

Listen, Beloved, please don’t forget me

I lie sleepless, yearning for my Beloved

I lie sleepless, yearning for my Beloved

Jaag Rahi has been arranged by producer Rohail Hyatt, with backing vocals by Wajiha Naqvi, Nimra Rafiq, Kumail Jaffery and Shahab Hussain. The house band includes Turkish musician Volken Öktem on drums, Asad Ahmed taking on the electric guitar, Kamran ‘Mannu’ Zafar on bass, producer Rohail Hyatt himself on acoustic guitar and keyboards, Abier ‘Veeru’ Shan playing percussions and Babar Khanna on Eastern percussions.

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