Songs from the valley: Mohammad Muneem of Alif on their unique music

Mohammad Muneem of Alif shares the uniqueness of the band’s music and why he celebrates darkness in his poetry

Updated - January 05, 2019 12:42 pm IST

Published - January 04, 2019 12:48 pm IST

The band Alif

The band Alif

The New Year has began on a cheerful note for Mohammad Muneem of the band Alif. “Our single Ride Home: Alif feat has garnered more than one million hits,” enthuses the Kashmiri poet/singer/songwriter on the eve of his performancein Hyderabad for the Krishnakriti Foundation. It took a few years for his organic music from the valley to get established and now it is slowly and steadily capturing more hearts. “Hats off to the Krishnakriti Foundation; it needs courage and heart to invite niche musicians like us. We are looking forward to share our original content with connoisseurs of music,” says Muneem. The band includes Amit Gadgil, Aman Moroney, Hardik Vaghela and Karan Chitra Deshmukh.

Muneem had studied engineering but found his calling in music. His musical journey began from Kashmir in 2008 and two years later, he co-founded ‘Alif’ with another musician Hardik, who is now his bandmate . “The idea was to write original music and content,” he shares. Metaphorically Alif, the first alphabet of Urdu meaning ‘that which is unseen, strongly united’ and ‘the oneness of everything’ encompasses his music/poetry.

Muneem describes his music as Urdu and Kashmiri poetry with contemporary music. “Every language has a nuance which makes it beautiful. Kashmiri language has a lyrical quality to it and the wordsfeel musical. Even when you do not understand the language, you feel connected to its poetry/music which surpasses the language barrier,” he states as if to explain one of the reasons why Kashmiri poetry in ‘Ride Home’ has been received so well. Alif also won the eighth Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival for its Music video ‘Lalnawath’. “One of our songs featured in Imtiaz Ali’s Laila Majnu Imtiaz mentioned he is using the poetry and music as he wanted people to just feel the music.”

Intent to document

For the single, Muneem collaborated with a folk artiste Noor Mohammad from Handwara town in Kupwara. “For social media savvy musicians/singers, it is easy to connect with their audience but it is difficult to document Kashmiri folk artistes like Noor who do not have an account. There were no boundaries and I asked him to be the way his heart wishes during the shooting,” he says.

Muneem travels between Kashmir, Mumbai and Pune; he teaches Urdu poetry at a college in Pune, visits recording studios at Mumbai to record his songs and in Kashmir, he writes and makes his content. Having grown up amid conflict, his lyrics has ‘darkness’ behind it. In fact he celebrates the pain in his poetry. “The politics and controversies in Kashmir do not bother me because it is a part of me. If you have lived in such surroundings what can you except? Just celebrate it. Ro shni ko aane le liye andhere ka hona zaroori hai. One cannot spread hate and pain. We have to bypass that and stay positive to reach people.”

With a big musical palette, Alif hopes to sparkle in the world music genre. “It might take some time before the audience bonds with niche arts. You have to believe in yourself and also in the plan of what the universe has for you.”

( The band Alif performs as part of Krishnakriti Festival 2019 at CCRT amphitheatre Madhapur on January 5; 7 pm onwards)

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