This ghazal is sung beautifully by the famous Afghan ghazal singer Ahmad Fanous, accompanied by Ravi Albright on tabla, doing justice to the melodious version of this song popularized by Jagjit Singh. They are accompanied by his son, pianist Elham Fanous, and together they render one of the most successful fusions of the traditional ghazal with Western classical harmonies. Their unique blend of Indian and Western melodic styles owes much to the fact that Elham grew up with his father’s music in his ears and also began his own study of Western classical music at an early age in middle school.
“Kal Chaudhvin Ki Raat Thi” has been one of the most popular ghazals and has been interpreted by many singers over the years. But this version is perhaps the most popular and was composed by Jagjit Singh. The author of the original poem is Ibn-e-Insha, the pen name of Sher Muhammad Khan, a Pakistani poet who lived during the first half of the twentieth century. As with many famous ghazals, this is a wonderful poem, written in Urdu.
The poet compares the imagined face of the woman he loves to the full moon.
You were mentioned on yesterday’s full moon night,
Some said, ‘It is the moon.’ Some said that it was your face.
I was also present there, my opinion was also asked,
I smiled, I kept quiet, your veil I embrace.
Ghazals are a traditional genre of poems set to music. Though they originated in Arabic poetry, the popular versions of ghazals sung in South Asia today can be traced to the 13th century Delhi Sultanate (present day India) poet/musician Amir Khusrau.
The ghazal is fundamentally romantic, often including overtones of both love and the pain of separation from love. The lyrics may also have a hidden double meaning that suggests another story which must be kept hidden.