Saturday, August 17, 2002

Abida sings Hazrat Shah Hussain
(Times Music)

BEGUM Abida Parveen, whom many consider the successor to the legacy of the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, won many hearts when she expressed Sufi mysticism and its depth. Her inspiration is the 18th-century Sufi saint Shah Abdul Latif, who blended folk music and classical raga in a style known as kafi. She has also proved that she is equally adept at the soulful ghazal genre of singing. A case in point was her rendering of Faiz Ahmad Faiz.

While she is at her best at the structured, poetic kafi, she is adept at the improvisational qawwali style as well.

She has now come up with this slow, meandering presentation of the kalam of Hazrat Shah Hussain, a 16th-century mystic poet whose devotion to God was a priceless example of surrender. His work is a romantic celebration of all the symbols of the rich Sufi heritage. She gives flamboyant expression to the beautifully woven words bringing about a divine expression of love.


Hazrat Shah Hussain was the first Punjabi poet whose kalam included a mixture of Punjabi with Pothohari, Hindi, Persian and Arabic. To make sure that the listeners can appreciate all its nuances, the album cover not only gives the lyrics of all the songs, but also their English translation. In the process the cover becomes one of the largest that you may have ever seen.

The words like Sajjan and Khavind are all used for God and once you master their hidden meaning, you undergo a divine transformation.

Everybody says I’m fine!

The soundtrack of this film is a far cry from the run of the mill stuff. Imagine rapping done along with qawwali! They call it world music, which is marked by "unhesitating use of musical influences from all parts of the world".

Maker Rahul Bose says that the only person who had the genius and the versatility to render music which spanned all genres — rap, trance, rock, pop, jazz and qawwali — was Zakir Hussain. The composer has not disappointed, although the mixing may come as come kind of shock to some.

The album has an Algerian singer harmonising with Talat Aziz in one track, Carlos Santana playing to Storms’ vocals on another, and members of the horn section of the Californian band, Tower of Power, playing alongside our desi qawwals.