Shahabaz Aman doesn’t care about boundaries when it comes to music. And you understand this when you hear the names of his works-KEF 1126, the name of his popular Sufi album (it is named after the jeep that he used to travel) and Om Allah, the title of his book.
The characteristic child-like smile, the carelessly tied-up long curly hair, and the meditative mood that he slips into often during his performances, give this Keralite musician a mystic fakir-like appearance on the stage. And it matches perfectly with the Malayalam Sufi Rock--that he calls his genre of music.
In his songs he weaves spirituality, devotion, political questions and human emotions seamlessly and deeply, with great musical and intellectual skill. This Sufi rock genre that he brought from the south -- Kerala -- where the origin of Islam was much older than in the north, was showcased in Delhi during Malayalam Sufi Route, held at the India Habitat Centre on September 30, 2015.
In a hall filled mostly by Malayalees (you instantly realize that when you hear the thick-accented English conversations, the highly political discussions like the one on reservations that you least expect from a music audience, and the glimpses of Mundu, the traditional Kerala attire) he enters the stage, humbly pinching his ears with both hands, amidst loud applauses.
Aman started with a Moppila song, written by Moeenkutti Vaidyar, the great Islamic poet of Kerala who is also considered to be the first romantic poet of the state. While drums, violin and the guitars spice up this fast number, he adds to it the flavour of ghazal through the beautiful melody along with the harmonium.
He went on to a popular melody ‘Othupalliyil annu nammal’, a song about the teenage love that instantly brings nostalgia in Malayalis. Next was an intense and tragic song, ‘Zammilooni’ that ended with lyrics that translated, “my corpse lies there, waiting for the sound of your footsteps on the other shore.”
A song from KEF 1126 to symbolise his Sufi music journey later in the life, brought before the audience the spiritual thinker in Aman. Its beginning translated: There is no fire in hell, neither garden in heaven. Everything is in you.
The political consciousness in Aman was seen in the song, Darwish, with the theme of Palestine. The song had the theme of a woman calling on a cloud over Palestine to pour over the dead body of her son, to drench her in his blood.
The final song, Iccha Mastan, ended filling the hall with melody and fast rhythm. Most of the teenage audience danced in joy. Aman stood at the centre of the stage with closed eyes, his both hands raised up, like a Darwish, as the lights dimmed.