A Kashmiri rapper and a band come together to give Sufi music a twist

  • Anubhuti Matta, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jul 09, 2016 07:45 IST
A still from Like a Sufi’s music video that features Sufi band Alif and Kashmiri rapper MC Kash.

The youngest son of Haleema, was born in a curfew… 

…She holds him tight, never far from her sight 

Prays five times a day, let her children be safe  

It’s easy to tell that this verse is set in Kashmir. It’s part of 101 Sufi, a modern Sufi project that is experimenting with rap, rock, and ballads to create contemporary music to appeal to a younger audience. Created by youth-based portal 101 India, this is also an attempt to save the dying Kosur or Kashmiri language. 101 Sufi have released two videos in June — Like a Sufi and Jhelumas. Both feature Alif, an ethnic Sufi band based out of Pune, that sings in Urdu and Kashmiri, and Kashmiri rapper Roushan Ilahi, also known as MC Kash. 

Read: ‘Sufism isn’t confined to religion, it is the path to peace’

 Like A Sufi aims to capture the feeling of being lost while searching for the truth while Jhelumas is a Sufi-rock ode to the river Jhelum, inspired by the Kashmir floods. “It celebrates the strength of Kashmiri women, their constant and ever-flowing courage and perseverance to stand by their family,” says band member Mohammed Muneem. 

 The project is a modern take on Sufi music, says managing director at 101India, Cyrus Oshidar. “You can be as sanskaari as you want, but today's audience needs something different. Through this, we are trying to keep Sufi music relevant,” he says. 

 101 India aims to pick up interesting music projects from fresh, relatively unknown musicians. “We met Kashmiri rapper MC Kash while doing a hip-hop project, and we were intrigued by his music and his rebellious lyrics. He introduced us to Alif, and that’s when we thought of teaming up their two styles,” he adds. 

Read: How Sufi music helped Shikhar Dhawan find his groove

 Kajal Gupta, a 29-year-old photographer and a regular viewer of 101 India loves the Sufi project. “It is a great idea to mix traditional lyrics with rap because you connect with the words and enjoy the music,” says Gupta. “The videos make you feel their pain and angst but at the same time, it is difficult to resist tapping your feet.” 

 Future videos will feature travelogues of Ajmer and other places, documentaries on qawwal and profiles of great Sufi scholars. 

 Also check out… 

What: Sounds of Sufis, an interactive musical documentary theatre performance that traces the historical evidences of Sufism through music and poetry. Performed by Anuraag Dhoundeyal, Priyanka Patel and Karan Chitra Deshmukh, it will include episodes and anecdotes from their lives along with exhibitions, screenings, workshops, an incubation space and platforms for discussions. 

 When: July 10, 7pm onwards 

 Where: KCA Hall, 16 Veronica road, Bandra 

Entry: Rs 500; tickets available on bookmyshow.com

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