The Wadali brothers, comprising Ustad Puran Chand Wadali and Ustad Pyerelal Wadali, are among the few traditional Sufi singers, who are into the mainstream music scene too. With songs such as ‘Aye rangrez mere’ (Tanu Weds Manu; 2011) and ‘Ik tu hi tu hi’ (Mausam; 2011), they have left a mark in Bollywood as well. Ahead of their performance in the city, the brothers talk to us about their musical career and how Sufi music has changed over the years.
How has the experience of upholding the legacy of Sufi music been?
Ustad Puran Chand: We keep practising and [we also consider] every show as a time to practice. We never treat a show as a separate entity; we choose to make it a session where the audience is able to see us in our most natural and uninhibited setting. The audience is the reason we excel at what we do. This mentality is the reason we have and will always uphold the legacy of Sufi music.
Ustad Pyarelal: By God’s grace, the experience has been very good. All our songs depend on the poets who write it. There is a poet Sarabjit Sinha, who writes very well. The composers make the songs for us. The old poets such as Baba Bulleh Shah and the likes have written such beautiful poems. We just sing them.
Watch the official video of their latest song, ‘Rab da deedar’ here:
Do you feel satisfied with your musical career?
Ustad Puran Chand: We don’t treat this as a career, we treat this as a religion. For us, this is a means to stay in touch with the almighty and to remember and thank him for all that he has given us.
You have sung quite a few songs in Bollywood. Do you think Hindi films churn out real Sufi music?
Ustad Puran Chand: In today’s day and age, a lot of artistes aren’t aware of what Sufi music is. Bollywood artistes only create tunes. Sufi music is a form of music that is for the almighty and today’s artistes have misconstrued it to their own benefit, causing it to lose its charm and meaning.
Ustad Pyarelal: We sing to please the ears, unlike Bollywood, which makes music to please one’s eyes.
Are you doing anything different to attract today’s generation to the Sufi music?
Ustad Puran Chand: The world has changed, so the thought today is only based on creating pop and other forms of dance music. But Sufi is a genre that an entire family could listen to. We want to continue to create an experience for our audiences. We do our best to be able to appeal to a variety of people, while still maintaining the essence of Sufi music. Playing our music in front of all kinds of audiences is our way of opening people’s perspective towards a genre that is liberating and holds a lot of value.
Do you ever have creative differences with each other?
Ustad Puran Chand: This isn’t a concern for both us as we have grown up playing and listening to similar kinds of music. We both still uphold our personal creative choices, but almost always, we are on the same page with regards to how we’d like our music to come through.
How do you think Sufi music has changed over the years?
Ustad Puran Chand: The essence of Sufi music is still the same. Only the perspective of people and their understanding towards the music has changed. In a world flooded by pop music and alternative styles, people have forgotten the core behind Sufi music. Irrespective of where the world goes, we maintain the essence and meaning of the music, which helps us to grow and appeal to a variety of audiences.
Ustad Pyarelal: Now, everybody wants to sing Sufi songs, however, it’s very difficult to sing Sufi. It’s not just about taking any saint’s name — that’s just a song, not a Sufi song. Sufi song is something that has been written by fakirs such as Amir Khusro. Nowadays, people make music and just take Baba Bulleh Shah’s name. They think of it as a Sufi song and claim to have sung a Sufi number.