Jiya dhadak (Kalyug), Ya Ali (Gangster), Chaand sifaarish (Fanaa) and Mitwa (KANK)... And if you thought that was all, Nagesh Kukunoor’s next, Dor, has a winner in the making with Allah hoo. Another musical, Zindaggi Rocks, has Sufi-meets-rock in one of the album’s racy and already popular songs Rabbi. Sufi music has entered mainstream.
Sufism is a mystic tradition of Islam and songs based on Sufi themes are perennial chart favourites, lingering on long after others have faded away. Remember Chaiyya Chaiyya (Dil Se)? Based on Bulleh Shah’s Tere ishq ne nachaya kar thaiyya thaiyya, the song is not merely remembered for Malaika Arora Khan and Shah Rukh Khan’s gyrations atop a moving train, but also made an overnight star of the singer, Sukhwinder.
And then there is Allah ke bande (Waisa Bhi Hota Hai - II), that made Kailash Kher a household name. And the latest Sufi sensation, singer Rabbi Shergill, is all set to debut as a music director with Delhi Heights later this year. So what makes the Sufi strain so sought-after in Bollywood?
|Chand Sifarish, a Sufi number from the film Fanaa, was hugely popular.|
Music director Anu Malik (who prefers to call himself Aanuu these days), the man behind Rabbi, pegs his
as a take off point for experimentation of Sufi music in recent times. “I’ve again given Sufi a current connect by fusing rock essentials with the Sufiana
in Rabbi.” But Sufi music made inroads long before
(2001), with the AR Rahman-composed
(1999). And it took off from the Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan-wave that ruled the charts in the mid-90s.
However, of late, songs with Sufi influences have become de rigueur in almost every film being released these days, irrespective of the genre, whether it is a romantic Gangster or a cerebral Corporate. “Sufi is in the DNA of the Indian sub-continent,” says producer Mukesh Bhatt, whose Vishesh Films has at least one Sufi number in most films since Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s chartbuster, Mann ki lagan (Paap). “The essence of a Sufi song can be brought out only by a Sufi singer though good lyrics are essential,” he says.
So what makes Sufi rock? “Sufi songs equate the love of God to that of the beloved. And as a theme song in the background at a poignant moment, it takes the music to a phenomenal level,” says Mukesh. Adds Kailash, “Sufi songs have a universal appeal as they are intense love songs. The lyrics are traditional, but my sound appeals mainly to the 20-30 age group.” As Anu says, “If you can make it groove-worthy keeping intact its lyrical core, the result rocks.” It sure does.