From Nusrat to Lata Mangeshkar, 7 top renditions of Amir Khusro's 'Chap Tilak Sab Cheeni Ray'

Amir Khusro's famous Kalam 'Chap Tilak Sab cheeni re' has only grown in popularity in last eight centuries

Chaap Tilak Sab Chin Li Re is undoubtedly one of the most popular Sufi Qawwalis to have ruled the hearts of music aficionados for nearly eight centuries. The iconic song has been rendered time and again by thespians of respective eras. Composed by 14th-century Sufi mystic Hazrat Amir Khusro, it has only become more popular with time due to its resonance of melody and mystical lyrics.  For beginners we would like to explain first few lines of the sufi Kalam “Chhap tilak sab cheeni ray mosay naina milaikay, Chhap tilak sab cheeni ray mosay naina milaikay Prem bhatee ka madhva pilaikay, Matvali kar leeni ray mosay naina milaikay. (You’ve taken away my looks, my identity, by just a glance.By making me drink the wine of love-potion,You’ve intoxicated me by just a glance)”.

Such was Khusro’s love for his Guru Hazrat Nizammudin Auliya that the lyrics have the elements of both romance and devotion. His Kalam has made innumerable eyes shed tears of ananda and sent hearts of millions into a state of pure bliss.

Here are 7 renditions of the greatest renditions of Chaap Tilak:

1) Lata and Asha:

The song found its way in Bollywood film Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki in 1978. Composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal and sung by legendary sister duo Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle, you’ll find the song to be great if you are more into listening short and simpler versions. The Dholak has been used to great effect but the picturization of the song is quite average.

2) Abida Parveen:

Considered to be one of the best Qawalli singers on the Indian sub-continent, Parveen is herself an embodiment of Sufi music. With her thick soulful vocals, she has the power to induce hysteria among her listeners. In the beginning of the song when her alaap is interjected with the accompanying harmonium, it’s enough to enthral the listener. In her rendition, she has also used verses which are not part of the Qawwali but are thematically related to it. This version definitely deserves an ear.

3) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan:

We wonder if there is any Qawwali which has not been touched upon by the magical voice of legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. With the soulful rendition of the beautiful poetry, Nusrat perhaps remains unmatched in his vocal abilities and his extraordinary range only shortens the distance between the mortal and the divine. Nusrat Saheb is also credited with popularising the interjection of Sargam in Qawwali. He beautifully introduces Raag Bihag into the song, taking the composition to a whole new level.

4) Abida and Rahat:

Pakistan’s Coke Studio never ceases to amaze us with its unique range of compositions and artists. When two great vocalists come together to give voice to an already celebrated song, the result was bound to be nothing less than exceptional. Though the tempo of the song is slower as compared to the usual mode of Qawalli, instead of the harmonium, guitars and drum have put to use, with interludes of the tabla. Definitely, it’s a great recreation, however, Nusrat’s rendition remains the best in the genre.

5) Sabri brothers:

Sabri brothers (Ghulam Farid and Maqbool Ahmed) were less flashy in renditions as compared to Nusrat Saheb but they were flamboyant enough to transport their audience to another world with their melody. Sabri brothers are credited with igniting a passion for Qawalli among the urban audience in Pakistan and abroad. In this rendition the duo trade lines, push the chorus to ever more rousing singalongs, giving the listeners a wholesome experience.

6) Naheed Akhtar: 

Pakistani singer Naheed Akhtar’s rendition of Amir Khusro’s Kalaam is very pleasant. There is no escaping from her unusually expressive voice suited to diverse compositions. She had this unique ability to effortlessly switch to a peppy track after singing a gloomy song. She recorded this version back in the 80s for a programme Sur Bahar which was dedicated to the music of Amir Khusro and delivers what has to be one of the best short versions of the great Kalaam.

7) Ustad Farid Ayaz and Ustad Abu Muhammad Qawwal

This version of Khusro’s Kalam has been sung in in a more traditional style suited to the small and intimate gathering of listeners. Ustad Abu Muhammad and Ustad Fareed Ayaz are the flag-bearers of Delhi’s Qawwal Bachchon Ka Gharana whose foundation was laid by Amir Khusro himself. Their father Munshi Raziuddin Ahmed, migrated to Pakistan during partition. It’s a common modicum where the elders sing while the younger ones in the group contribute in chorus as they are being initiated into the public sphere.