Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Penaz Masani: Crooning Glory

A Parsi who didn’t know Urdu, Penaz Masani went on to carve a niche for herself in the male-dominated ghazal domain. The singer talks about her over 25-year-old musical journey

For ghazal lovers, there is some good news as Penaz Masani’s new ghazal album called “Penaz: A Live Story” is to be launched soon. The two CD albums contain some of the best ghazals in Urdu, with compositions from Mirza Ghalib to Shakeel Badayuni and Nida Fazli.

According to Penaz, the soon-to-be-launched album has 20 ghazals rendered at different live concerts in India and abroad. “The album is special for me because it has all my favourite ghazals,” says Penaz, who was in Ahmedabad recently for an interactive session with children at Visamo Kids Foundation on Tuesday.

But for someone who has been singing ghazals for over 25 years now and has carved a niche for herself in what, many say is a male-dominated field, doesn’t the diminishing charm of ghazals bother her? “It’s true that not many people take interest in ghazals,” agrees Penaz, but adds, ” But then it has always been for a particular class and not for masses.”

Ask her why that’s so and she says, “To enjoy, experience and understand the ghazals, first of all you need to be familiar with Urdu language.”

As a Parsi, she says she too had a problem with Urdu but says a professor at St Xavier College in Mumbai, Nizamuddin Ghorekar, taught her chaste Lucknowi Urdu. She acquired a flawless diction and has cut over 20 albums. She has also sung in 10 other languages.

Penaz has been into ghazal singing since 1981 when the field was completely male-dominated. “It was and it is a male-dominated area. Very few women have made it big in this field. When I started, people used to laugh at me and used to pull me down. But I stuck to it and earned a name through sheer hard work, perseverance, confidence and riyaz,” she said.

That’s ‘panache’ Masani for you.