How lovely to hear a song to Krishna in the qawwali form by artists from Pakistan performing in India! It seems doubly poignant when they sing, ‘O Krishna, do you remember us at all?’, seeming to say that we are also yours, and you are also ours. Boundaries of nation, or categories of religion, seem artificial and superficial in such a moment.
This song is in the style of a loving complaint to the beloved, sung with great panache and yet loving delicacy by the immaculate performers that Farid Ayaz, Abu Mohammed and their party are.
The last verse evokes the Sufi idea of the stages of descent of God into form, the movement from One to many. The poetic image has the woman saying ruefully that she was better off single, instead of suffering the pain of separation, now that they are ‘two’. The signature line of the song has the pen-name 'Hilm', who may be Nawab Sadiq Jung Hilm of Hyderabad Decan, though this is not verified.
It was the last day of the Festival of Kabir in Bangalore, the final concert of qawwali by Fariduddin Ayaz & Abu Mohammed from Karachi, Pakistan and the 1350-seat auditorium was packed to the brim. Farid Sahab told the audience that his family was originally from Delhi and flung across the border by the Partition in 1947. "Here, I am called a Pakistan-wallah, and there they call me a Dilli-wallah!” he said laughingly.
(Click on Settings for subtitles in English & Hindi. Click ‘B’ on keyboard to remove the black background in subtitles.)
Fariduddin Ayaz & Abu Mohammed are acclaimed qawwals from Karachi, Pakistan and belong to the 700-year-old 'Qawwal Bachchon Ka Gharana' of Delhi. They sing in Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, Pushto, Hindi, Poorbi, Persian, Arabic and Turkish, intermingling with aplomb the voice of Kabir with a range of Sufi poets including Jalaluddin Rumi, Sachal Sarmast, Zaheen Shah and others.
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The Festival of Kabir was organized by the Kabir Project, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology along with several other partner organizations in Bangalore in February 2009. It brought together singers from India and Pakistan in an immersive week-long event that included film screenings, live music concerts and talks.
This is one of a series of upcoming uploads for Ajab Shahar, a webspace featuring songs, images and conversations around bhakti, sufi and baul poetry from India and thereabouts, currently under construction by the Kabir Project team. www.ajabshahar.org
Lead Vocals & Harmonium: Fariduddin Ayaz & Abu Muhammad
Chorus & Clapping: Ghulam Akram, Ali Akbar, Gayoor Ahmed,
Moiz-uddin, Mubark Haris, Zarrar Ahmed, Shah Laeegh-uddin, Shehzad Hussain
Dholak: Muhammad Ashfa, Muhammad Nawab Kallan
Translation: Vipul Rikhi
Cameras: Tahireh Lal & Vinay Dhodgeri
Editing: Piyush Kashyap
Sound: Dipanshu Mitra
Sub-Titling: Shruti Kulkarni & Vipul Rikhi
Collection: The Kabir Project
Place: Bangalore, India
Date of Recording: Mar 01, 2009