Bestowed with the title ‘Queen of Ghazal’, Penaz Masani has enthralled audiences around the world for quite a while now with her extensive concerts, which left audience mesmerised. The stalwart singer was in the city to spellbind the audience once again with her charming voice at 29th National Exhibition of Contemporary Art at State Art Gallery of Fine Arts, Madhapur.
Penaz says that she has a very strong connection with Hyderabad and she has lost count how many times she has come here. “The audience of Hyderabad has always showered their love on me. I have been coming here for a long time. I guess the last time I visited was six to seven years back. The city has changed drastically; with all the flyovers, the metro rail and malls. I am confused where I am now,” she quips.
Discovered by legendary composer Jaidev at a very young age, Penaz says that the veteran musician handed her to famous Ghazal exponent Madhurani ji, who became an integral part of her career. “I vividly remember that I was participating in Susingar music competition in Bombay in 1977. I was 13-years-old then and there was no age bar for competition.
The panel of judges comprised of stalwarts like Jaidev, Naushad and Raj Kapoor. I won the first prize. Jaidev sir was mighty impressed with my performance and took me to my guru Madhurani ji,” recalls Penaz. “Initially, she said no, but Jaidev sir insisted her to take me under her wings and there I started learning Ghazals, under her tutelage,” she smiles.
Penaz cut her first album ‘Aap ki Buzm Mein Penaz Masani’ in 1981. She gives all the credit to her father Doli Masani for he asked her to learn classical music. “When my papa was pursuing engineering in Baroda, he used to accompany the court musician Ustad Fayaz Khan Sahab at Lakshmi Vilas Palace in the court of Siyaji Rao Gaikwad. Papa was from Agra Gharana hence, I learned classical music from Agra Gharana. Till I met Madhurani ji I had no idea about Ghazal,” she shares.
Penaz has the distinction of holding one Platinum and three Gold Discs to her name. She has worked with renowned musicians like OP Nayyar and RD Burman amongst many others and has rendered her voice for more than 50 Bollywood films apart from singing in over dozen languages. She is the only women to have achieved an eminent status in what is a traditionally a male-dominated world of Ghazals. When Penaz puts on the studio headphones, you know some real inspirational work is about to be witnessed.
The only Parsi ghazal singer, Penaz speaks about the dwindling population of the community, “It is sad that the (Parsi) community is decreasing at an alarming rate and it is a matter of concern. I am also a part of this problem as I also did not marry.” “Recently, I performed at a conference in the Parliament where this problem was discussed.
The Ministry of Minorities launched a scheme ‘Jiyo Parsi’, which is a Government of India supported scheme to arrest the decline in the population of the Parsi Zoroastrian Community in India. There are only 61,000 Parsis in India now. And at max 1.5 lakh around the world,” she informs. The rules of Parsis do not allow people to marry outside the community.
Penaz says, “In case if a boy marries a girl from outside his children are considered Parsis. However, if a girl marries outside then her children are not recognised. Problems like these and late marriages took a toll on the populace of this community, which has a major hand in building the nation.”