Queen of hearts

Anjita Pradhan

Kathmandu, April 24:

With her soft and melodious voice it was natural for Penaz to make her name in the world of music. Looking gorgeous in her blue salwar kameez she greets me at the door with a warm smile and a hug. Before beginning the interview she insists on offering us juice and then excuses herself to add a dash of lip-gloss. She returns and is now ready to face my questions and the camera.

Born and brought up in a traditional family with her parental roots in classical music, she had her first lesson in the same tradition under Ustad Amanat Hussein Khan. But her life and direction underwent a sudden change after listening to renowned ghazal singer Madhurani. It opened up a whole new world of music to Penaz. A world she could not resist. She was attracted to ghazals and started taking lessons from her guru and idol—Madhurani. “What I am today is all because of my guru,” she says humbly.

By now the ice has been broken and she talks freely about the release of her first album while just in the ninth grade. Her first album ‘Aap Ki Bazam Mein’ was a huge hit. People loved her from the moment they heard her the first time. “Back in the 80’s ghazals were a rage. Everyone heard it and liked it,” she states with a smile. And why not? She sings beautifully and does justice to every emotion that a ghazal is written with. Presently with 28 hit albums to bank on, Penaz is a celebrated singer in her own rights. But she insists on practice everyday and refuses to let success get to her head.

Despite all her achievements, at heart she is more of an exuberant teenager taking things as they come, singing and dancing her way through life. Of her 28 hit albums, three are bhajans, three pop albums and the rest soothing ghazals. With two platinum discs and three gold discs to her name Penaz has proved her versatility as a singer. She also holds the unique title of ‘Shehazadi-e-Tarunnam’ yet insists on constantly learning and innovating. She still takes classes and believes there is a lot more to learn and do, with new kinds of music and fusion of traditional and modern music. Any releases coming up? “Well yes. My new pop album ‘Lakeere’ is coming up… it is a new composition of mine,” she reveals. She says she loves doing pop music and tapping along with it. “I love it most when my audience join me and dance to that trance of music,” she says. Her versatility can be judged from the fact that she entered the pop music scene with her album “Tu Dil De De” which was a major hit and topped the Channel V and MTV charts.

These days Penaz is busy with stage shows and has kept herself away from TV appearances and disc recordings. She has now taken to stage performance in a big way both in India and abroad. Penaz and her musical troupe are in Nepal for the Music Dhamaka organised by the Indian Embassy. Old melodies, pop numbers and a few ghazals will be performed to enchant the Nepali audience. And if there are requests, Penaz is also ready to sing a Nepali number as well. “I am a great fan of Narayan Gopalji and Tara Devi,” she says, when she sees the look of surprise on my face. Then she starts humming to the tune of “Ukali orali haru ma”.

She makes her point. I can’t help feel that her shows in Kathmandu will be a great success because she knows how to steal people’s hearts.