Muzaffar Ali showed his directorial prowess with the iconic Rekha-starrer film Umrao Jaan (1981). The filmmaker wears many hats: he’s a poet, artist, fashion designer, music lover and he also curates a popular music festival, Jahan-e-Khusrau, World Sufi Music Festival, which will be held after a gap of two years in the Capital.
“It’s the people who have brought it back. I obviously wanted to do it but things weren’t easy. We were not getting the right support. But then some people said we’ll put the money, it seemed really encouraging,” says Ali, who calls the event a people’s festival and believes that Sufism is a common thread between India and Pakistan.
The Padma Shri recipient did feel the constraint of not being able to invite Pakistani artists to the Sufi festival, which has been host to musicians such as Abida Parveen and Shafqat Amanat Ali in the past. He says, “Yes, I wanted to invite artists from across the border but I thought I may not be able to… If somebody embarrasses them then it’s not nice. I don’t have any opinions on that (ban of Pakistani artists in India) but certainly we can’t embarrass those people.”
This, however, didn’t deter Ali’s curatorial abilities, who will have artists such as Daler Mehndi, Sonam Kalra, Sukhwinder Singh and Malini Awasthi perform at the 13th edition of the festival this year. “It’s nice to have people from across the sub-continent — that’s the message of oneness that should go — but under the present circumstances, this is the best,” he adds.
And the whole Bollywood trap is very confusing. We would need big stars and distortion of history to make it commercial. You cannot distort history! I can’t afford to play around with the Kashmiri sentiment for this film. — Muzaffar Ali
On whether he wishes to revive his film Zooni — a biopic on the 16th century poet Habba Khatoon, which is stuck in production, he says: “ The seed of this festival was sown when I was in Kashmir and saw the turmoil and poetry of the mystics. I was making my film Zooni and could see a change take place between a very absorbent, gentle atmosphere to a very harsh reality of intolerance. That’s when I thought a festival like this should take place in India…. I’m very keen to revive my film but It can only be done if people want it. But there’s a lot of money involved. And the whole Bollywood trap is very confusing. We would need big stars and distortion of history to make it commercial. You cannot distort history! I can’t afford to play around with the Kashmiri sentiment for this film.”
- What: Jahan-e-Khusrau, World Sufi Music Festival
- Where: Arab Ki Sarai, Humayun’s Tomb Monuments
- When: March 24 to 26
- Timings: 6.30pm
- Nearest Metro Station: Jangpura on Violet Line
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