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Sufi music’s new haunt

music Updated: Apr 15, 2012 00:31 IST
Vaishali Bhambri
Vaishali Bhambri
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The Capital’s bustling night music scene has a new member — Sufiana music. Gone are the days when one needed to visit a dargah or an auditorium to listen to soulful melodies, as many city night clubs and music cafes are hosting qawwali concerts and the trend is fast catching on.

In a first, the recently opened nightclub — Blue Frog, as part of its series, Soulful Sundays — will today host a live performance by a Sufi group led by Qawwal Hasnain Nizami. The group’s a regular performer at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah.

“Such concerts help to promote Sufiana kalaam among a different audience. This way, we get to explain the music form to a new audience,” says Nizami, 38, who has been performing qawwali since childhood. “This one is definitely going to be different from the performance at the dargah. The performance there is more restricted... At this venue, we will have freedom to recite humorous sher (poetry) as well. Aisi jagah pe ek qawwal ko khula mahaul milta hai jahan sunne waale kalaam ka luft utha payein (such venues provide a liberal environment to the artist such that both the artist and listeners can enjoy),” says Nizami, whose group has 10 members.

Talking about this trend, Tushar Dutta, a classical and qawwali singer says, “The venue does not matter, only music and interested listeners matter. Thanks to Bollywood and concerts, this genre of music has become popular with youngsters now.”

Nizami Brothers at an event

So, do these performances need special arrangements? “No, we just need the sound system, a stage and a keen audience to perform,” says Nizami.

However, some feel that the qawwali sung at these venues is not the original kalaam, rather it’s a remixed version. Also, since Sufi music is every bit a spiritual experience, some even feel clubs are not the right place for playing this type of music. “This is not the real qawwali. It is a mixed version of Bollywood and Sufiana music that lacks spirituality. If you want to listen to an actual qawwali, head to the darbar,” says Syed Sadiq Serwer Hussain Nizami, the ancestral direct descendent of Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia.