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Updated: February 18, 2010 17:29 IST

Messenger of peace

Shailaja Tripathi
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Sufi singer Sanam
Sufi singer Sanam

A rising star in Pakistan, Sanam Marvi makes her debut on Indian soil with a solo performance at this year's Jahan-e-Khusrau festival.

Listening to Sufi songs against the backdrop of Humayun's tomb sitting beneath a star studded sky is a surreal experience, and many of us have been part of it at Muzaffar Ali's Jahan-e-Khusrau festival, which is back at its original venue after a gap of three years, during which it had shifted to Jamali Kamali in Mehrauli.

Sanam Marvi, a young emerging artiste on the Pakistani horizon, promises to add to the experience with her rendition of the Sufi qalams of both the known and not-so-known Sufi poets. Making her debut on Indian soil, Sanam, trained under Ustad Fateh Ali Khan of the Gwalior gharana, emphatically states that her aim is to introduce, popularise and publicise the rich Sufi heritage amongst the Indian and Pakistani youth. Excerpts from an interview.

On her first ever performance in India

I have heard a lot about the love and respect Pakistani artistes get in India and this is my chance to experience it. I feel here our talent is appreciated more than it is in Pakistan, and may be that's why Pakistani singers are faring so well in India. Rahat Bhai (Rahat Fateh Ali Khan) has often told me that he never feels as if he is performing in a different country.

On her festival repertoire

I will render the compositions of Baba Bulleh Shah, Baba Sheikh Farid, Sachal Sarmast, the Sufi mystic from Sindh, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, who is one of the greatest poets of the Sindhi language. I have especially chosen Baba Bulle Shah's “Mandir dha de, masjid dha de, dha de jo kuch dainda, par kisi da dil na dhain Rab dilan vich rehnda”.

Also, since Indian audience respond very well to Allama Iqbal's poetry, they will get to hear “Gesu-e-tabdaar ko aur bhi tabdaar kar”. A lot of people sing these songs, but I will try and present in a way that no one attempted before. I am also bringing a collection of Sindhi songs which have not been sung and heard. In Sindh, for every occasion, there is a specific song sung by the womenfolk to the beats of a dhol.

On her training and Sufi music

I have been learning classical music since the age of seven. My baba, Fakir Ghulam Rasool is a singer, so it was natural for me to take up singing. Apart from Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, I have learnt from Abida Parveen also. Having studied Sufi poetry extensively, I am heavily influenced by this genre for it talks about love and peace. I have never performed any pop song in my life. My objective is to perform in every Sufi festival across the world, so that people of my generation and many more to come are familiarised with this vast culture. I am only 24, and if I can get fascinated by it, so can others.

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